Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

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The elderly and veterans are valuable members of our society. They have contributed a lifetime to the area and years of service and defense to the country and our liberties. For that reason, they need to be protected and cared for, as they have done for us. Oftentimes, these individuals have conditions that require a great amount of care in which they no longer live independently but in cared facilities. Because they are under the care of a facility, they are owed a legal duty of care to be protected and kept safe from harm and neglect.

According to a recent article by the Chicago Tribune, two residents of an Illinois veterans’ home recently died of Legionnaires’ Disease. The home is located in Quincy, Illinois – approximately 300 miles southwest of Chicago. The two residents were among 23 others who had been diagnosed with the disease at this facility.

For those unfamiliar, Legionnaires’ Disease is a severe form of pneumonia. It consists of lung inflammation usually caused by an infection. It is not transmitted from person to person, and many people contract the disease by inhaling the Legionella bacteria.

This instance is now considered so severe that the Adams County Health Department Director of Clinical and Environmental Services has iterated that the state health department is recommending that elderly people, anyone sick, and anyone who has immunity problems should not visit this home. These people would be extremely vulnerable to the disease and could easily catch it, as the Legionella bacteria is now very prevalent. The official also stated that normally this bacteria is found in such small doses that people do not become ill. However, when a cluster of people become ill, there is likely one source point. The health department is confident the disease is contained to this single veterans’ home.
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A recent study has shown that a surprisingly large number of nursing home residents have fallen victim to having their money stolen by staff near them who are able to get a hold of the elderly residents’ financial information and access their accounts easily. This terrible situation is occurring all over the country at various nursing homes, and often times occurs when the nursing home’s bookkeepers and nursing home office managers (who family members of nursing home residents and the residents themselves should be able to place trust in) take the residents’ money or falsify billing to the residents accounts.

Family members of the victims of this form of nursing home abuse have spoken out with outrage and shock that anyone working so close with vulnerable and elderly adults could ever take advantage of their situation and steal from these residents. Families that may help pick out a facility for an elderly family member in cases where the person may not be able to decide on their own, and nursing home residents that pick out a nursing home for themselves, should all be able to feel confident that the residents are in good and safe hands and that all the staff at nursing homes always have the residents best interest in mind.

While this story would be disturbing at any level, it is especially upsetting that this study revealed that this terrible fraud is occurring at many nursing homes across the country. Since 2010, there have been over a hundred cases prosecuted in which a nursing home employee in some capacity was charged with stealing from the residents. This just accounts for the cases being prosecuted, so the numbers of unreported or unknown cases is likely much higher than this number. According to USA Today, when their investigative team looked into this issue they found that this nursing home fraud was likely occurring more than people may realize because of how easy it is for these employees to access and skim money off of the nursing home residents accounts without anyone realizing what is happening or that the money is gone.

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A very alarming problem that has been discovered in connection with the investigation of nursing home abuse and neglect is that in certain areas the investigations are conducted in an indifferent manner and the charges and investigations are quickly dropped without any action being taken against the accused. Specifically, the State of California has been found to be particularly dismissive and cursory in their investigation of nursing home abuse in recent years.

According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Department of Public Health in California ordered close to one thousand pending nursing home abuse and neglect cases to be dismissed, back in 2009, when the department realized how backlogged they had become with respect to these types of investigations. While the Department attempted to do this quietly and under the radar, certain people that were aware that this occurred have recently come forward to warn the public of this serious situation.

In 2009 when these cases were dismissed, the dismissal was happening as quickly as a single phone call to end an entire investigation. Unfortunately, this was not just a one-time “solution” to the backlog and now, several years later, reported instance of abuse cases are still being opened and closed very quickly, without proper investigation into the allegations. Many nursing home staff accused of sexual abuse have retained their licenses without even a proper investigation into the allegations. All reported cases are required to be reviewed by headquarters and no one may even go out and investigate the nursing home until they are given permission to do so. This results in very few actual investigations and many negligent and abusive nursing home workers not only getting away with what they have done but also leaving the abusive staff unaccountable and able to continue their terrible behavior.

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A rehabilitation center in Zion, Illinois is under investigation in connection with multiple complaints of improper care and treatment of their patients. The facility is named Grove at the Lake Living & Rehabilitation Center and several families of the patients have recently come forward with instances of improper care, including possible abuse and neglect of patients.

The League of United Latin American Citizens has stepped in and is currently running a campaign to raise awareness on the issue of nursing home and rehabilitation center abuse and neglect. The president stated that while it is not a problem affecting only the Latin American community, they are still making it a point to get involved in the cause and raise awareness across the county on this issue. The Department of Public Health has also confirmed that they are currently investigating the facility for evidence of mistreatment, neglect or possibly even abuse.

The first family member to come forward against the center, according to The Sun Times, is the daughter of an Alzheimer patient that is currently residing at the Zion Center. Her mother has been at the facility full-time for three months and since that time she has been taken to the hospital for a fall that led to her hitting her head. After being released for this injury, the same woman was back in the hospital not long after for an abscess in her mouth, a black eye, bruising on her back and a swollen jaw caused by two fractures. Her treating physicians told the victim’s daughter that that type of injuries presenting were consistent with another fall or physical trauma. The family of this victim has retained Levin & Perconti to further investigate this neglect and possible abuse by the Center, and the firm is starting their investigation by a thorough review of the patient’s medical records. While we hope that the investigation will show that these injuries were in fact an accident, there is always the fear that these injuries were caused by the staff neglecting or possibly abusing their patients.

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An elderly Chicago resident of a nursing home was just recently shocked by a taser and then hit with bean bag rounds by the Chicago police after the nursing home he was a resident called the cops based on his behavior. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago police were called to The Victory Centre of Park Forest when the 95 year old resident of the home began acting “combative” while at the home. It in unclear at this time whether the nursing home staff took any other steps prior to calling the police to help calm down the patient. When police got to the scene, the resident was allegedly holding a knife and a cane when he was hit with the taser and the bean bag rounds. The police stated that when they arrived the resident was threatening staff and paramedics and refused to drop the weapons he was holding. It is unclear whether the resident understood or was capable of understanding the requests of the police at the time of the incident. After he has shocked and hit with the rounds, the elderly man was taken to a local hospital. He was still conscious and talking to paramedics on the way to the hospital, however he later died as a result of his severe personal injuries once at the hospital.

Unfortunately, these types of incidents occur more frequently than many people realize. Elderly patients suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may be confused or scared and not realize what is going on around them, causing them to try and defend themselves or not listen to security personnel when they are shouted at to do something or stop doing something.

Last summer in a different situation, another police officer used a stun gun on an Alzheimer’s patient to shock the man after the patient allegedly became combative and struck several other patients. The police officer shocked the patient five times with the stun gun. There is no evidence supporting why the police officer felt the need to shock the patient so many times to get him to stop acting in a “combative” way. Following that encounter, the wife of the patient filed a lawsuit against the police department for the force used on her husband. Other types of these cases have happened all over the country, and present a problem that needs to be addressed.

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The body of a Chicago area man was found floating in the water near Belmont Harbor earlier this week, and at this time it is unknown what led to the man’s untimely death. On the victim’s wrist was an identification tag that linked to reports of a missing person from a nursing home on the North Side of Chicago. The nursing home reported the man as missing after he was discharged from a hospital last week and did not come back to the nursing home where he lived prior to his stay in the hospital. The victim was identified as a 40-year-old man and the cause of death at this time is not known.

According to The Chicago Tribune, at this time it is unknown which specific nursing home the victim was a resident of, but the report mentions that it was a North Side nursing home. The Edgewater neighborhood and surrounding areas are home to a number of nursing homes. Some of the nursing homes in the area include All American Nursing Home, Bryn Mawr Care, Mid-America Care Center and Alden Lakeland, however it is still unknown where the victim had been living before he went to the hospital.

Given the lack of details known about what happened it is unclear if this was an accident or if anyone will be charged with negligence in connection with the lost man who ended up in the lake. If the victim was a current resident of the nursing home, it may have been the nursing home’s responsibility to make sure that the resident made it safely back to the nursing home after being discharged from the hospital. However, if the hospital staff knew that their patient was a resident of the nursing home or unfit for discharge, they may be held responsible for allowing him to leave the hospital without making sure he ended up back at the nursing home where he was supposed to go. However, until without further details it is hard to say what really happened.

Reports say that the victim was discharged from the hospital, however we often hear of cases where patients leave hospitals and nursing homes without staff knowing. While this may seem like the patient’s choice, if staff knows that a patient is not in a position to make this type of choice reasonably on his or her own, the hospital may be liable for failing to properly supervise the patient and any injuries that may occur as a result of this elopement. When families admit a loved one to a nursing home or hospital they trust that their loved one will be properly monitored and taken care of at all times. However we have seen many instances where facilities breach this trust and patients and residents are injured as a result of a lack of supervision.
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The Chicago based nursing home company that just purchased a failing chain of nursing homes, as discussed in a previous blog, has taken major steps to ensure that the homes are safer for the residents. According to the Sheboygan Press, the new company is requiring that all employees that previously worked at the nursing homes reapply for their jobs, in hopes of insuring that all staff are appropriately qualified and able to do their job. The reason that the re-application of all employees is such a necessary and important step in this specific situation is because the nursing homes were in such bad shape and had numerous accusations of nursing home abuse and neglect against the homes. With this type of history, it is crucial to make sure that any former employees that are kept on are interviewed and the new management is able to determine that the employees are able to give the proper care to all of the patients that are residents of these nursing homes.

Nursing home abuse and neglect are very serious problems and unfortunately occur much more frequently that most people realize. According to a study conducted by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, as many as 30 percent of the nursing homes in the United States have been cited for different types of elder abuse, including physical, sexual and verbal abuse. The most common problems reported were untreated bedsores, malnourished patients, dehydrated patients, inadequate medical care and inadequate hygiene of the patients.

Some of the nursing home issues arise from understaffing and the inability of the staff to take care of the needs of all of the patients. This type of nursing home neglect can be very damaging to patients, as they often are not taken care of, monitored, given the proper medications or otherwise getting the attention they both need and deserve. In addition to nursing home neglect, many nursing homes are accused of serious nursing home abuse. This is particularly disturbing because many elderly patients that are subject to this abuse have no way to defend themselves and often may be in the position where they are unable to tell anyone about what they are suffering or do not have anyone to talk to about these problems. One example of how horrible some of this abuse can get, is that authorities found that a Chicago nursing home had been keeping dozens of their patients in physical restraints.

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A Midwestern based assisted living home company that has been under a lot of scrutiny in recent years with regards to their treatment of their elderly patients has announced that they will close a large number of their facilities. The company has incurred nearly $100,000 in fines in the last two years relating to personal injuries and wrongful deaths of the residents. The complaints include allegations of wrongful deaths, neglectful treatment of patients, a history of slips and falls while at the facility, inability to monitor patients suffering from dementia, fights between the residents caused by the staff not monitoring and listening to patients and mistakes regarding patient medication. The shut down will affect ten facilities in Illinois and Wisconsin. Apparently, the company informed the state licensing board that they were closing the facilities, however state officials said that they had recently requested a meeting with the company to discuss serious plans to fix the company which is considered the last chance before the state revokes nursing home licenses, so that may have led to the company shutting down the facilities when they did.

According to Post Crescent, a Chicago based assisted living company has stepped in and will take over the operation of the ten facilities that are closing. The company that is taking over currently owns 85 assisted living homes. This is a relief because the new company with a much better reputation for patient care and the new company is working to make the transition seamless for current residents, making the patient’s care and comfort the top priority during the transition. An exact time as to when the transition will end up happening is unclear because it will depend on licensing and other necessary approval from the state.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is a very serious problem, and unfortunately occurs far more often than many people realize. It can often be a more hidden offense than many others because many of the elderly victims may not realize what is happening to them or may not have anyone else to talk to about the abuse and neglect issues. This is part of the reason it is so crucial for all nursing homes to be carefully monitored and held accountable for their actions. One of the biggest problems in nursing home is the problem of neglect, which can occur even when the staff does not necessarily know that they are acting in a neglectful manner. Understaffing and overworked staff members can lead to patients not getting the care and attention they need and often leads to serious personal injuries or in some cases even death.

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An elderly woman passed away shortly after she was a patient at Applewood Nursing Home in Matteson, Illinois and her family has recently filed a nursing home negligence lawsuit against the facility. Levin & Perconti is representing the family in their lawsuit against the nursing home, and the lawsuit claims that the nursing home staff was negligence in their care towards the woman, leading her to develop bed sores so severe that she was unable to recover from these personal injuries.

The family of the victim believed that the nursing home was taking proper care of their mother, since the nursing home knew that the woman was at risk for developing pressure sores which require a certain level of care to avoid. The woman had previously suffered a stroke and since stroke victims often lose at least part of their mobility, they are at a higher risk of developing bed sores. However, the nursing home did not properly monitor and reposition the woman in order to keep the bed sores from developing. In addition to the severe and life threatening bed sores, the hospital staff also allowed the patient to become severely dehydrated while she was a patient at the nursing home. Proper monitoring and taking appropriate and necessary care of the woman would have kept the bed sores from becoming so severe, would have kept her from becoming so dehydrated and likely would have kept her from passing away when she did. Many nursing homes are extremely understaffed, leading patients to not get the necessary level of care that they need to remain healthy.

The families of patients in nursing homes should be able to trust that the nursing home staff will take complete and total care of their loved ones, and that if a situation develops beyond the nursing home staff’s control, that the nursing home will contact the patient’s doctor or get the patient to a hospital immediately. The purpose of having a patient in a nursing home is so they will have complete care available to them at all times and to ensure the patient’s safety. Understaffing and busy staff members are not an excuse for the nursing homes to be negligent in their treatment of their patients. If a nursing home does not have the appropriate staff and time to care for the number of patients they have at the nursing home and are unable to afford to hire more, then they should not take in as many patients.

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Two cases were recently brought to the Supreme Court of the United States to determine whether state court decisions to allow descendants of nursing home residents bring wrongful death lawsuits against the nursing home, when arbitration agreements were in effect, were valid. The Supreme Court declined to overturn the state court decisions to allow the family of the victims to bring suit.

According to McKnights, the nursing home position was that the family members bringing the wrongful death lawsuits could not rightfully sue because arbitration agreements written into (and signed off on by the parties) the contract were binding and parties to the contract could not sue in connection with the contract.

In the first court case, which was in front of the Illinois Supreme Court, the daughter of a nursing home resident brought a lawsuit after she believed her mother’s death was caused by the nursing home’s actions. The nursing home claimed that the daughter could not bring the lawsuit because she had signed the arbitration agreement in the contract. The state court found that since the daughter signed on behalf of her mother, as her representative that she was not actually a party to the contract (because her mother has and she was just acting on her behalf) and that the daughter could bring a lawsuit on her own behalf as a family member of the victim of wrongful death.