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Nursing Homes Abuse Blog

By Jonathan Rosenfeld

Ignored Alarm On Ventilator Patient Results In Criminal Charges

Posted in Ventilator Patients

In June 2014, criminal charges against a nursing home were issued for nine workers, including the head administrator, involving the death of one of the residents. A New York State, Suffolk County grand jury issued a 46-count indictment alleging abuse and neglect. The Attorney General’s office in charge of the case brought the original criminal charges against the nursing home.

The charges allege that neglect at the 320-bed nursing facility Medford Multicare Center for Living caused the death of a patient under their care. Additional charges include patient abuse, physical evidence tampering, falsifying business documents and records and obstructing a government agency along with endangerment of an incompetent individual.

Ignoring Doctor’s Orders

The criminal case involves the October 2012 death of 72-year-old Aurelia Rios, a hospital-released patient transferred to the nursing facility due to respiratory issues. On doctor’s orders, Aurelia needed to be connected to a ventilator throughout the night to assist her breathing. According to officials, the indicted employees’ ignore the doctor’s orders, which allegedly led to her death.

Electronic equipment monitored Rios’ breathing throughout the night, and could set off an alarm to alert the staff in the event of a breathing issue. The alarm set off every 15 seconds and continued for several hours. Unfortunately, the staff ignored the warning alarms even though a nurse sat only a few feet away from a computer signaling the alarm. Eventually, Aurelia Rios died as a result.

It is believed that the administrator of the facility deleted all alarm records on the computer in an attempt to conceal evidence of how Rios died. The employees are on paid leave while awaiting the outcome of the criminal case.

An Attempted Cover-Up

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has indicated that the alleged actions involved in this criminal case shows that the state of New York will not tolerate negligence in nursing facilities. The employees and the administrators are also criminally charged for attempting to cover up the details of Rios’ death.

In addition to the “willful violation of health laws,” a misdemeanor, the defendants could also be found guilty and sentenced for criminally negligent homicide. Each defendant could receive a maximum penalty of four years in prison, if found guilty of all charges.

Previously Cited Violations

This is not the first time the Department of Health (DOH) has cited the nursing facility for deficiencies. As the result of an inspection in August 2012, DOH officials discovered a failure of the Medford Multicare Center for Living facility to provide necessary bedsore treatment to one of their dementia patients, which can lead to serious life-threatening infections without proper care.

Additionally, investigators for the Department of Health noted another failure to respond to a behavior-challenged dementia patient’s immediate needs. According to the detailed care plan designed for the patient, staff was instructed to perform behavioral issue intervention using therapeutic remedies whenever the dementia patient was agitated or upset.

On another occasion, an inspector for the DOH observed a Medford Multicare Center for Living resident screaming for assistance while in the dining room unattended. A social worker ignored the pleas for help repeatedly, while positioned close by at a nurse’s station.

In addition to criminal charges, a civil complaint has been filed detailing how the home’s owners generated millions of dollars in profit at the expense of persistent neglect of residents in care.

Hiring an Attorney to Investigate & Prosecute Nursing Home Injuries

Unfortunately, nursing home resident neglect happens everywhere, including in the Chicago area, even when children and grandchildren choose a seemingly loving, caring facility. Family members will usually consider all available options and locate a nursing home to provide much-needed care to a loved one. The decision is often based on believing that the nursing home will provide the basic requirements of the resident in a safe environment, free of harm. However, when neglect happens it often leaves Illinois residents with serious injuries or dead.

The neglectful actions of a nursing home employee can occur in a variety of ways including through an error or mistake, preventing adequate delivery of necessary medication, withholding medications or stealing drugs for personal use. Other neglect can occur by the nursing home staff being inattentive, refusing food or toileting, sexual abuse or even physical or emotional attack. Neglected nursing home residents can suffer a variety of life-threatening conditions including stroke, heart attack, embolism, loss of mental faculties, infections, bedsores and severe pain.

If your loved one has suffered neglect in a nursing home, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help. Our law firm can stop the abuse immediately and provide legal options for compensation obtained through all responsible parties. Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 for a free initial consultation.

Elderly with Hip Fractures in Nursing Homes Face Grim Prognosis

Posted in Hip Fracture

Hip Fractures in the Elderly Can Have a Hard RecoveryWhen an elderly person is injured in a nursing home, his or her chances of survival can become slim. If the nursing facility is understaffed or lacks resources, an elderly person may be unable to ever properly heal from his or her injuries. Nursing home workers may not be attuned to the needs of the injured victim. They may fail to notice the development of an infection or other serious health issues.

It is important that you pay attention to the recovery of your loved one in a nursing home. If your loved one has been involved in an accident or fall, you should make sure that the nursing home delivers the care that your loved one requires. Federal and state laws mandate that nursing home residents receive adequate care. Under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, nursing home residents have the right to reside in a facility free from abuse, neglect and mistreatment.

Statistics Indicate Poor Survival for Residents with Hip Fractures

Nursing home staff workers have a legal duty to respond to the needs of a resident when he or she has been injured. They must seek to “accommodate” the “medical, physical, psychological and social needs” of patients in a facility under the NHRA. Unfortunately, a recent research study indicated that nursing home residents tend to have a poor survival outcome if they have suffered from hip fractures. It seems that nursing home workers may be failing to live up to their responsibility to deliver quality care. It seems that nursing homes are increasingly finding ways to avoid the extra cost and burden of caring for residents who have suffered hip fractures.

Researchers studied data from Medicare claims from 2005 to 2009. Their analysis of this data indicated that 36 percent of patients died after 180 days with a hip fracture. Over 53 percent of patients with hip fractures suffered new levels of dependence after 180 days with the injury .

Neglect in the Nursing Home

In the majority of hip fracture cases, a patient does not receive the care that he or she needs due to the neglect of nursing home staff workers. These individuals may not be properly trained or able to recognize that a resident has a hip fracture. In some cases, a nursing home may have inadequate staffing levels. A worker may not have time to check up on the needs of a patient with a hip fracture. He or she may downplay the seriousness of the injury.

Family Members Must Step In

Family members need to understand that they play a monumental role in assisting a loved one who has received a hip fracture. Family members may need to intervene to make sure that the loved one receives the care that he or she needs. Nursing home facilities may not take action until a formal complaint has been filed with the authorities. Family members may need to take advantage of online reporting systems to ensure that a complaint involving a loved one is properly handled.

Illinois is one of the first states to implement an online reporting system for the handling of complaints related to elder abuse and neglect. The online reporting system allows family members to instantly file a complaint alleging abuse or neglect with the Illinois Department of Public Health. The IDPH will then investigate the nature of the complaint. The IDPH may send investigators to the nursing home facility to ensure that a loved one receives the care he or she needs.


If your loved one has suffered from an injury in a nursing home, it is important to act fast. Your loved one’s condition may worsen if he or she has received a hip fracture. It is up to you to hold nursing home administrators accountable for the care that your loved one receives. Contact our nursing home abuse lawyers to receive help in filing a formal complaint.


Hidden Cameras Allow Families To Track Care In Nursing Homes

Posted in Nursing Home Abuse
Cameras are Hidden to Track CareWhen someone we care about is admitted into a nursing home, we expect him or her to be safe. Many of us see these facilities as a safe haven for elderly relatives and aging parents, a place where they have onsite doctors and nurses and healthcare management to provide the much-needed personal care and attention they need. We expect that the staff in these facilities treat our elderly citizens with respect, dignity, and kindness. What happens when this is not the case?

A case that garnered media attention

One of the most important cases to highlight the importance of hidden cameras in nursing homes is the tragic story of 96-year-old Eryetha Mayberry. Initially, family members put camera in her room because they were afraid someone was taking her belongings. However, the found footage depicts Lucy Gakunga, a former nursing home aide, forcing latex gloves into Mayberry’s mouth, jerking her out of her wheelchair, forcibly shoving her head down onto the bed to get her to lie in bed, and pushing and taunting the 96-year old frail dementia patient.

Despite the fact that Ms. Gakunga has since been found guilty of elder abuse and neglect, it is important to remember that if these family members did not have prior (completely separate) suspicions, this case would is likely to have remained undocumented.

A change made for the better

Partly because of the outcry over the Mayberry case, Oklahoma Senate Bill 587 was introduced and signed into law. This made Oklahoma one of three states (the other being Texas and New Mexico) that would explicitly allow residents who live in long-term care facilities to install surveillance cameras in their rooms. While at least five other states have considered similar legislation in the last two years, these three states are the only ones that have written it into law.

These types of recordings can certainly make an impact. Aside from the arrest of Ms. Gakunga, similar horrific scenes of nursing home abuse have been captured in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and several other states. Oftentimes self-monitoring is the only remaining solution for relatives and loved ones who feel that the authorities are not taking their claims of nursing home abuse seriously.

The only way to capture the abuse/neglect

It is important that the signs of neglect and abuse may be obvious to families, but that does not mean that they would be able to charge someone with a crime and force the facility to make a change. The only way to do so is to capture the abusing/neglecting party ‘red-handed’ and that can be done by using hidden cameras.

Preventative measures

One often heard claim from unions is that secret monitoring violates the employees’ right to privacy. While residents can expect privacy (the nursing home is essentially their room), the same cannot be said about workers. Workers cannot assume that their actions are going unrecorded. This may also serve as a deterrent for abuse, especially if staff members are unsure where cameras are.

Does it fix all problems?

While hidden cameras may weed out aggressive or unsuitable workers far more easily, it does not necessarily address all the problems that remain at many of these long-term care facilities. While they are a great step in the right direction, proper training and staffing are ultimately far better ways to guarantee quality of care.

Court Slashes Nursing Home Negligence Verdict

Posted in Litigation

In June 2014, the justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court slashed the $90 million verdict awarded to Dorothy Douglas in her Charleston nursing home abuse case. Even though the justices called the conduct of the nursing home “reprehensible,” the estate of Ms. Douglas was awarded $32 million instead. When ruling on the nursing home negligence verdict, it was the justices’ claim that the nursing home placed corporate profits ahead of the needs of the Charleston residents.

In an opinion by Chief Justice Robin Davis, claims were made that the nursing home owners denied authorization of using additional staff to ensure basic life-sustaining requirements were met for the plaintiff and all of the nursing home residents. It was Justice Davis’ opinion that the residents in the Charleston nursing home are West Virginia’s “most vulnerable” citizens.

A Duty to Provide Care

In 2011, jurors heard evidence in the Kanawha County courtroom in a trial presided by Judge Paul Zakaib, lasting almost two weeks. Jurors concluded that the Heartland of Charleston nursing home failed in their duty to provide care and feed Ms. Douglas, who was a resident for approximately three weeks.

The jurors awarded $11.5 million to the estate of Ms. Douglas and her son along with punitive damages of $80 million. The nursing home lawyers argued that the case should have been subject to West Virginia’s medical malpractice caps for all claims alleged against the Charleston nursing home and its staff. The state’s Medical Professional Liability Act (MPLA) limits the financial compensation to $500,000 or less for any non-economic damage awarded to lawsuit plaintiffs involved in medical malpractice cases.

However, a ruling by the judge in the case indicated that only a small amount of the nursing home negligence verdict should be subject to West Virginia’s medical malpractice caps. As a result, Judge Kakaib reduced the jurors’ award of $91.5 million to approximately $90.5 million, prior to an appeal before the higher court.

Compensatory and Punitive Damages Award

The West Virginia Supreme Court justices ruled 4 to 1 to reduce compensatory and punitive damages awarded to Ms. Douglas’ estate. In addition, the justices stated that the punitive damages awarded to the plaintiff should not be restricted by the state’s medical malpractice cap for any damages incurred.

Ms. Douglas’ estate and her son can either accept the reduced amount or ask the West Virginia courts to hear a new trial based on the Supreme Court’s order of deciding punitive damages in the case. In their stated opinion, the justices found no error in the conclusion of the Circuit Court in awarding the large punitive damages as a necessity to remove the nursing home owners’ profitability while conducting wrongful conduct. It was the justices’ opinion that the owners achieved greater profits by minimizing the number of employees it would have needed to pay.

The profits generated by the corporation were gained at Ms. Douglas’ expense along with the other residents who did not receive adequate care. The failure of the company to provide adequate staff was directly connected to the neglect endured by Dorothy Douglas. It was proved that the severity of negligence by the facility and staff directly resulted in her death.

The West Virginia Supreme Court justices indicated that the form of the nursing home negligence verdict was too vague in scope. As a result, the justices felt justified in throwing out the original claim. An earlier opinion made claims that lawyers representing the estate of Ms. Douglas did not properly submit paperwork before filing the plaintiff’s case, as is required by the West Virginia Nursing Home Act.

Medical Negligence

Attorneys representing the defendant (Heartland of Charleston) along with Manner Care, its parent company, argued that the state’s statute on medical malpractice caps defines nursing homes to broadly, indicating it is a healthcare facility. As a result, any negligence from the staff is improperly deemed medical negligence. However, attorneys for Ms. Douglas argued that a nursing aide is not necessarily defined as a healthcare provider as defined by law.

The plaintiffs are considering accepting the amount, indicating that the lawsuit was never filed for the compensation. The plaintiffs’ attorneys believe that the lawsuit demonstrated that intentional and reckless actions harming parents and grandparents in West Virginia will result in legal action to hold responsible parties accountable.

Hiring an Attorney

Unfortunately, abuse in nursing homes is all too prevalent. Studies indicate that nine out of every 10 nursing home residents are not receiving the care they require, and that three out of every 10 nursing homes in Illinois have received a citation for abuse.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers at (888) 424-5757 specialize in medical malpractice and nursing home abuse cases. The legal team has assisted numerous abused victims to obtain justice while obtaining financial compensation.

World Elder Abuse Day: Why Bother?

Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

Everyone, especially the elderly, deserves to be treated with dignity in a safe environment. Unfortunately, too many older Americans are neglected, abused or exploited. Research indicates that 10 percent of elderly individuals 60 years and older will be the victim of some type of abuse every year. Sadly, less than one in 10 elder abuse cases are ever reported to an authority. However, World Elder Abuse Day participants are bringing awareness to the problem of serious prevalent harm to senior citizens.

Defining Abuse

Elderly abuse does not always occur physically, but can happen emotionally, financially or through neglect. As senior citizens age, their bodies often become physically frail, making it more challenging to fight back to protect themselves when attacked, or guard against bullying. Their physical limitations often make it challenging to hear or see, and their mental acuity might be impaired, which often makes thinking clearly difficult. As a result, unscrupulous individuals can prey on the elderly to take advantage of them through physical, emotional or financial ways.

Many elderly individuals across the nation, including in Illinois, are routinely abused, and often suffer harm from individuals who are directly responsible to provide their care. The senior is often subjected to threats, intimidation, neglect and/or financial deception.

  • Physical Abuse – The law defines physical abuse against an elderly individual as an intentional use of force causing impairment, injury or physical pain. The abuse can occur in ways other than physical assault like shoving or hitting, through an inappropriate means of confinement, restraint or use of drugs.
  • Emotional Abuse – Individuals causing emotional abuse to the elderly might involve threatening or speaking in a manner that causes distress or emotional pain. Often considered psychological abuse, intimidating or threatening words spoken to the elderly can occur as yelling or by ridiculing causing humiliation. It can also involve a scapegoat attack through habitual blaming. Nonverbal psychological abuse can take place through ignoring the person, isolating them from activities or friends, or menacing (terrorizing) the senior.
  • Sexual Abuse – This type of abuse involves sexual conduct with the senior without his or her consent. It can involve a physical sex act, and/or exposure to pornographic material, forcing them to undress or watch sex acts.
  • Neglect – Whenever a caretaker fails to fulfill their obligations to the elderly individual, it is often deemed neglect. The action or omission of action can be intentional or unintentional. Neglect is often based on a variety of factors including denying the level of care the elderly individual needs, or ignoring it.
  • Financial Exploitation and Deception – Others often financially exploit elderly individuals through unauthorized use of their property or funds. It can occur by misusing bank accounts, credit cards and checks, or stealing money, household goods, or the elder’s identity. Numerous rackets specifically target the elderly including phony charities, paying money to claim a prize, or investment fraud.

Growing Numbers of Elderly Abuse

As the American population continues to grow older, elder abuse numbers continue to rise. Research estimates indicate that nearly 80,000 Illinois residents are victims of elder abuse, and less than 10 percent of all senior abuse occurrences have been reported to authorities or agencies including Adult Protective Services. The abuses involve:

  • Alleged financial exploitation (more than 50 percent)
  • Alleged passive or active neglect (more than 45 percent)
  • Alleged emotional abuse (more than 45 percent)
  • Alleged physical abuse (more than 25 percent)

Often times, witnesses of elder abuse turn a blind eye and do not take steps to prevent the negligence being caused by medical staff, nursing home employees, family members or supposed friends. In fact, many elderly individuals suffer abuse at the hands of others in their own homes, at the home of relatives, or at facilities that are paid to be responsible for providing care.

Getting Involved

Since June 2006, hundreds of thousands of individuals have become involved in participating in World Elder Abuse Day as a way to raise awareness on economic, social and cultural processes that affect elder neglect and abuse. The special day of celebration provides the opportunity or call to action for communities, organizations and individuals to increase awareness about elders in their community that are being subjected to neglect, abuse and exploitation. Every active participant can make a difference to improve the community and the nation.

If an elderly loved one is suffering abuse and neglect from others, it is essential to call the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers at (888) 424-5757 to speak with an attorney today. Our nursing home neglect attorneys specialize in abuse cases. Our law firm can hold responsible parties accountable for the injury, humiliation and pain caused to your loved one, and stop the neglect and abuse immediately.

How Quickly Can Bedsores Develop on a Nursing Home Patient?

Posted in Bed Sores, Pressure Sores, Decubitus Ulcers & Pressure Ulcers

Decubitus ulcers, commonly referred to as bedsores or pressure ulcers, develop in individuals that are chair bound or bed bound for an extended period. Many ulcers begin forming in as little as a week when lying or sitting in the same place. On average, bed sore developing skin ulcers become serious in less than a month of being bound to a chair or bed.

Bedsores on the skin are caused by continuous pressure and irritation at any specific location on the body. However, bedsores tend to be common on a prominent bony area including the buttocks, hips, elbows, back of the head, shoulders, lower back and heels. Bed sores can be minimized when taking preventative measures including changing body position whenever possible to relieve pressure.

Most Common Bed Sore Occurrences

Bed sore developing ulcers are often a common occurrence in hospital patients. Research indicates that as many as five percent of individuals admitted to a hospital, nursing home or health care facility can develop a pressure ulcer within a week or two. The most common bedsore occurrences happened by a variety of reasons including:

  • The patient is not very mobile and unable to change body position
  • The patient is seriously ill, such as patients in ICU (intensive care unit)
  • Individual suffering a spinal cord injury and are unable to feel or move the legs and/or arms
  • Individuals with a poor diet
  • Individuals wearing a plaster cast for a broken limb, a body brace or prosthesis (artificial limb)
  • Smokers
  • Individual suffering from diabetes that lose the ability to sense pain or major discomfort
  • Individuals suffering incontinence of feces or urine where the skin remains damp, increasing the potential of damage
  • Individual suffering heart failure or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Those with rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Individuals who have recently undergone hip surgery or nursing a broken hip
  • People with poor circulation in the arms and legs (peripheral vascular disease) where the arteries are narrowed by atheroma

Identifying a Bed Sore

Decubitus ulcers often appear in various stages depending on severity. Medical care identifying or grade the sore, based on the depth of the ulcer.

  • Grade #1 – The patient’s skin appears permanently red but has no crack or break in the surface. Often times, the area feels warm and hard to the touch, and slightly swollen. Individuals with dark skin often have bedsores that are blue or purple in color.
  • Grade #2 – The bedsore appears superficial much like an abrasion or blister.
  • Grade #3 – The decubitus ulcer penetrates throughout the entire thickness of the patient’s skin where obvious damage appears in underlying tissue.
  • Grade #4 – This type of ulcer is the most severe, where the sore is deep with significant damage to the bone and muscle beneath.

Preventing Bed Sores

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends consulting a healthcare provider as soon as possible whenever a noticeable bedsore appears. This is because surgery is usually required to repair and heal this kind of wound. The healing process of a decubitus ulcer often involves:

  • The ulcer is becoming smaller in size
  • The sore starts to develop pink tissue along its edges while increasing in size toward the center
  • During the healing process, noticeably healing signs include bumpy or smooth surfaces of new tissue growth
  • Bleeding can be present at the site indicating good blood flow circulation to the damaged area to promote and escalate healing

However, many bedsores do not heal without medical treatment. Often times, noticeable signs of necessary medical care can appear. These signs can include:

  • Significant drainage at the ulcer site or an increase in its size
  • Increase redness at the site or black areas beginning to form
  • A noticeable odor and/or extensive drainage with a green color at the sore site
  • Any indicator of a fever

Healthcare Provider Neglect

Anytime a bedsore is neglected in a hospital, nursing facility or assisted living home, it can be life-threatening. Many victims of abuse or neglect can develop an infection that can easily spread to the bone, heart and blood. Serious neglect of the decubitus ulcer can lead to amputation or autonomic dysreflexia (overactive autonomic nervous system).

Placing a loved one in a nursing home for necessary care requires a level of trust. Unfortunately, whenever the trust is violated, the love one can suffer a variety of serious injuries including debilitating bedsores. When this happens, it is important that family members hold the nursing home accountable for their negligence and abuse.

The legal team at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers at (888) 424-5757 is experienced in nursing home negligence cases involving serious injuries. We offer free consultations to evaluate the circumstances surrounding all treatments or lack of treatment to assist in obtaining financial compensation for your loved one.

Memory Care Facilities Emerging Specialty In Senior Care Industry

Posted in Dementia / Alzheimer's Patients
Senior Care Memory Care FacilitiesAs work continues on a 23,000-square-foot memory care center in Weston Wisconsin, it is important to remember that this is just one of the many facilities currently being built throughout the country. Because of the increased number of people who have memory-related illnesses, these types of ‘memory care facilities’ are only going to increase in number.

In fact, the number of people in Wisconsin alone who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease are expected to be around 202,000 by the time 2035 comes around, almost double the number of the current 120,000 Wisconsin residents with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011.

Defining memory care

It is important to remember that memory care facilities are not unlike assisted living communities. However, while assisted living communities may have memory care units that cater to specific individuals, the two types of care are not synonymous with one another.

Memory care is a specialized form of long-term skilled nursing. It specifically caters to patients who struggle with memory problems such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Memory care offers a residential solution for those people who are no longer able to care for themselves due to progressive impairment.

These professionals are trained to help people with impaired cognition or dementia. This goes beyond just having skilled professionals available too. Oftentimes the security of these facilities and their physical layout is designed to better suit patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This ensures that the environment is pleasant and easy to navigate and wandering behavior is minimized.

There are currently 23 states that require care providers to disclose the special services they offer due to special care unit disclosure laws. However, because there is no single universal law in relates to memory care facilities, it is vital that caregivers research these facilities thoroughly before they ever decide upon one facility or another.

A cost comparison: assisted living vs memory care

There are many different variables that determine the costs of memory care and assisted living. These include what services are needed, whether a space has to be shared or not, the size of the apartment/room, and the geographic location of the facility. Beyond that, the determination of the costs is a bit different for both types of care.

Assisted living usually charges a base monthly rate. This includes two to three meals per day and covers room and board. According to a recent survey, in 2012,  a one-bedroom assisted living apartment on average cost around $3,300 monthly. Some facilities cover other services such as laundry and housekeeping in their base rate, while others will charge extra. This emphasizes the importance of requesting a cost breakdown for each facility that you are considering for yourself or someone that you care about.

Memory care offers nursing services and specialized care not normally found in regular assisted living. As a result, the costs are oftentimes quite a bit higher. That same survey showed that the average costs were around $5,000 per month. Fortunately, veterans’ benefits, Medicare, and Medicaid can all help reduce the out-of-pocket price tag.

Do you choose assisted living or memory care?

If dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are not an immediate issue and the person is still relatively independent in their daily lives, assisted living may be a good choice. However, if the patient suffers from memory impairment and has the complex care needs associated with that issue, a memory facility  such as the one being built in Weston is going to be the best possible option.

Mealtimes Turn Dangerous In Senior Care Facilities

Posted in Choking
Dangerous Meals in Nursing HomesThe Rookery home in Walcott found out that mealtimes could in fact be dangerous – and in this case even fatal. Paul Relton had a specific care plan that specified that he required one-to-one supervision when he was eating. His food also needed to be cut into minimal pieces in order to avoid choking.

However, on October 14, 2012, Mr. Relton finished his own meal and then took a cheese roll that belonged to another resident. He placed it in his mouth. A support worker at the home says that he took Mr. Relton out of the dining room and brought him into the lounge, this was done to ensure that Mr. Relton was unable to take any more food from other residents. Despite the fact that Mr. Relton did not appear to have anything in his mouth or appear to be in distress at the time, the support worker admits that he did not check whether Mr. Relton swallowed the cheese roll that he took a second ago.

A problem becomes evident

Minutes later Mr. Relton ran out of the room and began coughing in the corridor. The support worker first assumed that this was normal coughing, but as it continued on, he decided to check on the resident. He report that he saw Mr. Relton lean up against the wall.

After seeing Mr. Relton up against the wall, the support worker brought another patient that he was with at the time back to the lounge. By the time he came back, Paul Relton face was face first on the floor in another part of the building. After calling the emergency number, it took paramedics 24 minutes to arrive at the scene – 14 minutes longer than their target. Two days later, Mr. Relton died in the hospital.

The aftermath of this case

The support worker says that he felt that having more staff present in the dining room at the time may have prevented the grabbing of the cheese roll in the first place. However, the manager of the care facility said that the staff levels met the ‘regulatory requirements’. The death was later ruled ‘accidental’.

Why this could happen more often

Part of the problem that plagues a number of care facilities and nursing homes is the fact that there are not enough adequately trained staff members present at all times. This means that during hectic times such as breakfast, lunch, or dinner, staff members are busy trying to help as many residents as possible.

It is important to have more staff members during these stressful times to ensure that an incident such as the one with Paul Relton does not happen again. Despite that, there are an increasing number of nursing homes that are cutting down on personnel in order to save money.

Remember that even small incidents could have big consequences. If you notice that the staff is no longer able to provide support for your loved one, it is important that you speak out and make your voice heard.

Accidents do happen, but hiding behind ‘regulatory requirements’ shows us that if this type of incident can happen in accordance with the law, perhaps it is about time that we look at addressing our lack ‘regulatory requirements’

Reports From Nursing Home Inspections Frequently Lag Behind

Posted in Bed Sores, Pressure Sores, Decubitus Ulcers & Pressure Ulcers
Nursing Home Reports for InspectionsWhen Mary Chiu discovered the bedsores that her 85-year old mother was struggling with, she was shocked to say the least. Her mother suffered bedsores on her big toe, heel, left leg, and the one on her backside was deep enough to where it exposed the bone. Hospital treatments for the sores and subsequent bacterial infections became standards, upwards of a half a dozen times her mother needed to go to the hospital. Her mother finally passed away because of respiratory failure months later.

Slow justice indeed

Because Mary Chiu wanted a thorough investigation of the nursing home, she wrote the Los Angeles County public health officials in September of 2011. The 7-page complaint detailed everything she thought went wrong in the case that led to her mother’s suffering. In December of that year, she decided to take legal steps and sue the Arcadia Health Care Center.

Lawsuit settled – case closed?

The lawsuit has since been settled, in arbitration it was decided that her mother was in fact the victim of negligence and elder abuse. The wrongful death of her mother led to Mary Chiu receiving more than half a million dollars. Even though the lawsuit was started and settled – the investigation from the public health department is still not finished.

It would be easy to consider this an afterthought, but it goes beyond that. If people look up the public records of the Arcadia Health Care Center, they are not going to see any reports of this case. This means that those people who are referencing public records to help them determine nursing home quality are left out of the loop.

Not an isolated incident

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. It is one example of hundreds of similar cases in Los Angeles County alone. Statewide there are thousands of these cases. This begs the question: how many of these cases are still pending on a national level? Especially if we consider these cases are incomplete for months, possibly even years.

As of the middle of March, there were 3,044 open cases in the county. Out of the 3,044, almost a third (945) of these can be dated back two or more years. This shocking statistic was recently revealed by the Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller.

A lack of accountability

Part of the issue, as previously mentioned, is the fact that these delayed cases are not available on federal or state websites. The only thing that prospective clients are able to see is that Chiu lived at the Arcadia nursing home in 2011.

The issue here remains that aside from the temporary financial setback, these facilities are not being held accountable for their actions. In fact, until a reporter confronted them about the situation, the website for the Arcadia Health Care Center proudly displayed a five-star facility status. This would suggest that there is nothing wrong, and there has never been anything wrong, with the facility. The actual rating that the Arcadia Health Care Center has on the U.S. official government database is three stars. Since being confronted with these facts, the claim has been removed from the website.

What seems lost here

Part of the discussion that appears lost here is the fact that Mary Chiu does not want other families to have to go through the same heartbreak that she did. While the monetary compensation is certainly helpful in taking care of bills and attending to her mother’s last wishes, it does not give Mary Chiu her mother back.

Until there is adequate funding for these departments to enable them to investigate each claim properly, what type of message does that send to the offending healthcare facilities. What message does it send to the families left behind?

Authorities Investigate Rape of Woman In Nursing Home

Posted in Sexual Abuse & Assault
Rapes in Nursing HomesA transitional care facility and nursing home in West Chester received a brutal reminder that even those elderly patients who live in an elder care facility are not always safe. According to police, a rape reportedly happened between 9 and 11 PM. Despite the fact that neither the police nor the care facility would disclose the woman’s age, it is assumed that the woman was in fact a resident at the facility.

According to the vice president for marketing for the owner of the facility, there were re-conducted background checks for all the male caregivers and these male caregivers were removed from schedule on that particular floor for the day.

Remember that sexual elder abuse goes further

Even though this particular instance pertained to actual rape, it is important to remember that any contact without the elder’s consent is considered sexual elder abuse and is unacceptable and punishable by law. Contrary to what most people assume, this is not merely limited to physical sex acts. Sexual elder abuse also includes forcing the elder to undress without any specific reason, forcing the elderly patient to watch sex acts, or showing the elderly person pornographic material.

Some facts about sexual elder abuse

Even with the number of elder sexual abuse victims as high as it is right now, estimates suggest that only about 30 percent of sexual assaults/rapes on the elderly are reported to the police. Sometimes it is fear or embarrassment that prevents the victim from seeking help and justice, other times it is the nursing facility that attempts to downplay the situation.

Another troubling aspect of elder sexual abuse is the fact that people often fail to speak out. According to the statistics of one specific study, it is far more common to have at least one witness present for the sexual abuse (more than 75 percent) than it is for the sexual abuse to happen without any witnesses (24 percent). This means a large number of people are not reporting what they are seeing – perhaps due to the stigma of sexual abuse.

According to one final study (which did not actively screen for institutional sexual abuse), most of the time (81 percent) the suspected offenders of sexual elder abuse were caregivers themselves  while 78 percent were family members. Perhaps more shocking was that more than 33 percent of the suspects were in fact elderly themselves.

Remember that you are not helpless

It is important to remember that even if something did happen or almost happened, you are not helpless when it comes to seeking justice. Both seniors themselves and their relatives are able to bring forth claims against the nursing homes and the offending parties.

Remember that even if something almost happens, it is possible to institute a lawsuit for neglect. It is required by law that nursing homes provide reasonable care for its residents – these are industry standards. In fact, nursing homes are often held to a high standard of care. The NHRA (federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987) mandates that any nursing home that receives Medicaid or Medicare maintain safe facilities for its residents. If you are concerned about someone you care about, remember to speak out and make your voice heard.

Nursing Homes Abuse Blog