October 22, 2014

Large Nursing Home Company Settles $38 Million Suit Based on Substandard Care

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Extendicare Health Services is one of the largest nursing home chains in the nation. It is also the subject of one of the largest, if not the largest, settlements in a quality-of-care case the country has ever seen. According to a report by one news source, Extendicare recently reached an agreed-upon $38 million settlement.

The charges against the nursing home chain were several. Some of the charges related to improper billing of the federal government. However, the bulk of the claims were in regard to the standard and quality of care that Extendicare was providing to its aging residents.

According to the report, the investigation focused on 33 Extendicare facilities in eight different states, including Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Kentucky, Washington, and Wisconsin. The claims alleged that the facilities employed fewer nurses than were needed to support the number of patients that the facility housed. In addition, there were claims that the nursing home staff members were not being adequately trained.

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October 15, 2014

New York Nurse Accused of Sexually Abusing Disabled Patient

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

In a disturbing story out of Syracuse, New York, a certified nurse aide has been formally accused of sexually abusing a physically disabled resident in a Utica nursing home. According to a report by one local news source, the state Attorney General has filed a nine-count indictment against a man who formerly worked at Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

Evidently, the man was charged with the following counts for alleged forcible sexual assault that took place on May 21 of this year:

  • Three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree;
  • Three counts of willful violation of health laws; and
  • Three counts of endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person in the second degree.

If the man is convicted at trial, he will face up to 21 years in prison.

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October 8, 2014

Nursing Home Fire in Maine Forces Evacuation of 22 Residents

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Earlier this month in Damariscotta, Maine, a fire in a nursing home resulted in 22 residents needing to be evacuated for their safety. According to a report by the Bangor Daily News, the fire was started by a small electrical fire that began in the attic space. Luckily, the fire was contained to a six-by-six-foot diameter.

Evidently, the fire was put out mostly with the use of a chemical compound used to help put out fires. In addition, one bucket of water was also used to help quash the flames. The nursing home’s sprinkler system was triggered and kept the fire under control until emergency crews arrived with more sophisticated equipment. Despite the relatively small size of the fire, an entire wing of the nursing home was evacuated. In total, 22 residents were forced to evacuate as a result of the fire.

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October 1, 2014

Two Connecticut Nursing Homes Fined for Falling Below Acceptable Standards

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Earlier this month in Connecticut, two nursing homes were fined by the State’s Department of Public Health in connection with various reports of substandard care. According to a report by one local news source, the allegations involved verbal abuse, unmonitored bedsores, and the care of a patient who fell 15 times in just four months.

Evidently, one nursing home was fined $1,650 after it was discovered that residents repeatedly fell while they were unsupervised and alone. In the case of one man who fell 15 times between January 5 and May 18, he was discovered several times on his own in the meal area, lost, at times when meals were not being served.

Nursing home employees had to undergo additional training earlier this year, but that training seemed to have little impact on the quality of care that was being provided to residents. Residents continued to fall off the toilet, in the shower, and in common areas while unsupervised.

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September 23, 2014

New Legislation May Require a Nurse on Duty 24/7 in All Government Funded Facilities

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

A new bill in Illinois called the “Put A Registered Nurse in the Nursing Home Act” is being introduced by Representative Jan Schakowsky. The bill, which still needs to be voted on before it would have a chance at becoming law, would require that any nursing home facility receiving either Medicare or Medicaid funds have a Registered Nurse on duty all day, every day.

According to a report by HealthCare Dive, the current requirement is that any qualifying nursing home must have a nurse on duty for at least eight hours a day. This requirement was passed back in 1987, and there has been little regulation of nursing homes passed since then.

Some states are currently mandating that nursing home facilities have a nurse on staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, the new law would make that requirement extend nationwide. Currently, it is estimated that almost 12% of nursing homes do not have a full-time nurse on staff 24/7. The cost of one full-time nurse is approximately $68,000.

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September 16, 2014

Cameras in Nursing Homes?

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

A recent article by the Chicago Tribune outlines the debate the State of Illinois is having in determining whether nursing homes should be required to allow video cameras to be installed in patient rooms in order to document the type of care the nurses are providing to their patients.

The article explains that there are two sides to the debate, and even patient advocates are skeptical that cameras are a good idea in all circumstances. Right now, there are about five states that allow a family to install a camera in their loved one’s room. Each state’s law is a little different, but a few things must be considered about the use of cameras in nursing homes, such as:

  • The loss of privacy that nursing home residents would suffer as a result of the cameras always being on;
  • The expense of the equipment and the occasional monitoring of the videos;
  • The effect, both positive and negative, that recording patient interactions may have on the nursing home as a workplace;
  • The admissibility of the tapes in civil or criminal suits against the nursing home and its employees; and
  • The privacy of visitors, guests, and nursing home faculty and how it may be affected by the cameras.

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September 9, 2014

Texas Nursing Home Blamed for Seven Deaths

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Towards the end of August, authorities filed suit against a Texas nursing home, claiming that the nursing home’s gross negligence caused the deaths of seven residents. According to a report by one local news source, attorneys for the families showed reporters some pictures of the deceased, one woman with maggots in her ear as a result of a massive infection she sustained at the nursing home.

Evidently, there are several other anecdotal stories that the plaintiffs have, including a bed sore on one man’s back so deep that his bone can be seen in the photograph. Other residents claim that they had been “soaked” in feces and urine for hours on end.

The nursing home’s record is not stellar, either. According to the report, they received four violations for “Level 4 Deficiencies,” meaning that a home resident’s wellbeing was put in immediate jeopardy. The home also has two wrongful death suits against it pending on appeal.

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September 5, 2014

Nurse Arrested for the Abuse of a 92-Year-Old Nursing Home Patient

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Earlier last week in Syracuse, New York, a female nurse was arrested and charged with several crimes related to the alleged abuse of a 92-year-old patient. According to a report by one local news source, the nurse was not only charged with the abuse-related crimes but also with falsifying business records to cover up the abuse.

Evidently, back in March of this year, the nurse was assigned to care for the 92-year-old victim. On March 25, the patient did not want to move from her bed to a wheelchair, despite being asked to do so. The nurse grabbed the patient by her upper arms and forcefully placed her in the wheelchair.

The elderly patient then developed significant bruising. Other nursing home employees noticed the bruising and reported it to management, who assigned the nurse in question to investigate. Of course, rather than admit to abusing the patient, the nurse reported that the elderly woman was suffering from senile pupura, which is the purpling of the skin, a common condition in the elderly.

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August 25, 2014

Arkansas Nursing Home Cited for Abuse and Neglect

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Earlier this month in Arkansas, a local nursing home and care facility was cited for abuse and neglect of patients by the Department of Health and Human Services. According to a report by one local news source, the nursing home was cited for several failures, including:

  • Failure to provide proper supervision during patient transfers, resulting in a high instance of patient injuries. In one instance, a patient fell off a mechanical lift and hit her head on the ground.
  • Inadequate nurse training regarding the equipment that is used to move patients to and from their beds. Employees reported not being instructed at all on how to use this equipment that is crucial to their job.

The Department of Health and Human Services interviewed several employees about the level of training they received to use the mechanical lifts used to move residents. Not one employee told the Department that he or she had been adequately trained to use the lifts. In fact, the only employees who reported receiving any training told the Department that they only received the training after the woman fell off the lift.

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August 18, 2014

New York Nursing Home Questioned After Another Patient Death

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

A Long Island nursing home is under investigation after a 71-year-old resident recently passed away while under the home’s care. According to a report by one local news source, this isn’t the first time the home has been in the news. Back in June of this year, several employees from this same nursing home were charged with criminal offenses related to the death of another resident.

Evidently, both the most recent death as well as the prior death occurred in the home’s 40-bed ventilation unit. Loved ones of the recently deceased asked employees to speak to someone about the previous death that occurred in the home, but they were told “absolutely not.”

As it turns out, earlier this year, several employees of the nursing home were charged with several offenses, including patient neglect and falsifying business records to cover up information about the woman’s death that occurred back in 2012. All involved pleaded not guilty to the offenses. These cases have not yet concluded.

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August 11, 2014

Jury Doles Out $14 Million Verdict Against Grossly Negligent Nursing Home

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Recently, a Massachusetts jury delivered one of the largest verdicts in state history to a family who lost their loved one after a nursing home failed to provide adequate care for her during her final years. According to a report by the Boston Globe, the nursing home, which is located in Danvers, provided grossly negligent care resulting in the woman’s death.
Evidently, the woman was taken to the hospital when she fell out of her wheelchair. Upon being examined by ER doctors, the woman was found to have an open pressure sore on her back, acute appendicitis, a severe urinary tract infection that had invaded her blood stream, kidney failure, uncontrolled diabetes, and severe dehydration.

Doctors did their best to treat the woman. However, she died one month after she was admitted to the hospital. The family of the woman brought suit, claiming that the home’s gross negligence in failing to properly care for their relative caused her death. The woman’s family recounts times that they expressed their concern over their loved one’s health but were told by nursing home employees that nothing was wrong.

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August 4, 2014

Elderly Man Suffers Sexual Abuse in Maine Nursing Home

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Earlier this week, a report from a local Maine source chronicled the sexual abuse that an elderly man suffered at a local nursing home. According to the report, the man’s family lived nearby, but, because of his declining health, could not provide him with the day-to-day assistance that he needed. They decided to place him in a nursing home in their neighborhood.

The elderly man, who was partially deaf and completely blind, was also losing control of his reality due to an aggressive case of dementia. He was therefore completely dependent upon the staff of the nursing home. When his family would come visit him, he would try to explain that there was a male nurse that would “take sexual favors from him.” But the family believed that this was the man’s illness speaking, rather than reality.

However, a few months later, another nursing home employee caught a man sexually abusing the elderly man. It is believed that the offender chose this man in particular because he was exceedingly vulnerable and had little to no way to effectively report the abuse.

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