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Articles Tagged with nursing homes

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By Jessica Surber, Attorney

English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP

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Our firm routinely handles nursing home abuse, neglect and wrongful death cases. We see families every day who have trusted their loved ones to assisted living facilities or nursing homes but have found that the care was not up to basic standards.

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By Jessica Surber, attorney

When you or a loved one enter a nursing home, you are asked to sign paperwork, in order to be admitted. Most of the forms you fill out provide much-needed medical information and cover things such as payment arrangements.

Usually, you’ll also find an agreement that specifies what happens if you or your loved one is injured or dies in the care of the facility, and you believe the facility is at fault. The agreement indicates that should you have a dispute with the care facility, you and the nursing home will go to binding arbitration, rather than court, to settle your differences or to seek compensation if the nursing home patient was injured or died.

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delirium, brain scan, elderly, nursing homeWhen a person suffers from delirium, he or she may have confused thinking, a reduction in awareness of his or her environment, a general lack of focus, and other symptoms of cognitive impairment. Behavioral changes such as hallucinations, restlessness, and lethargy are also common, as are emotional disturbance issues such as anxiety and depression.

According to media reports, a recent study from Brown University indicated that nursing home residents who are admitted to care with delirium are at increased risk as compared to residents without such a condition. The study, which analyzed over 5.5 million residents’ medical records, indicated that there were almost a quarter of a million seniors admitted to nursing homes with delirium from 2011 to 2014.

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elderly woman's handsPhysical abuse happens to nursing home residents much more often than most of us can imagine, and often the perpetrator gets away with it. But not always.

Recently, a woman who worked at a nursing home in Pike County, Kentucky, was indicted by a grand jury for the alleged abuse of a nursing home patient in her care. The worker, who was a 32-year-old certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Pikeville, Kentucky, admitted to the court that she went into work while under the influence and then injured a resident’s arm.

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nursing home assaultsWhen someone mentions nursing home abuse, chances are, you think of injuries inflicted on patients by the staff that is supposed to be caring for residents. But the staff aren’t always the ones perpetrating abuse. Sometimes abuse comes at the hands of other residents, and it’s no wonder it happens. Residents are, at times, confused as to where they are and who those around them might be, or sometimes taking medications with side effects that can include exacerbating anger issues.

In fact, such mistreatment among fellow nursing home residents is so prevalent that it triggered a study by Cornell University in 2014. The report determined that, in the population studied by the university, about one in five residents suffered resident-on-resident mistreatment during a four-week period. Verbal incidents like screaming or cursing were most common, followed by events such as a resident entering another’s room to go through his or her possessions. Physical altercations, such as hitting or biting, and incidents of sexual misconduct, such as exposure or touching, were also noted in the survey.

A Scottsville, Kentucky personal care home even had a murder . According to reports, the victim of the murder was a 71-year-old man who was strangled with a lamp cord in his room at the Scottsville facility. Reports also suggest that the man’s 35-year-old roommate may have been responsible for the crime.

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Crutches in a medical clinis

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are one of the leading causes of nursing home injuries and deaths. In addition to the approximately 1,800 nursing home residents who die annually from injuries related to falls, many more sustain injuries that render them permanently disabled or with a reduction in their quality of life.

The CDC also reports that, in a typical 100-bed nursing home, there are at least 100 and as many as 200 falls reported annually. This is a staggering statistic, especially given the fact that many nursing home injuries are never reported. About half to three-quarters of all nursing home patients will fall at least once a year, and some fall multiple times. Those who are unable to walk are particularly vulnerable to falling, with the CDC reporting that 35% of injuries from falls happen to those who are unable to walk without assistance.

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Depakote kickback

According to a press release issued by the United States Department of Justice, the second-largest nursing home pharmacy in the nation – Louisville-based PharMerica Corporation – has agreed to pay some $9.25 million in a settlement of various claims arising from its alleged participation in a Depakote kickback scheme.

According to the company’s website, the “voluntary civil settlement” related to its possible violations of the False Claims Act and/or the Anti-Kickback Statute from 2001 to 2008. The company, which primarily serves institutional health care providers like nursing homes, stated that it was “pleased to resolve this matter” and “remains focused on operating with integrity.”

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stopwatch

There are many questions that determine the outcome of a lawsuit. However, while inquiries such as “who, what, how, and why” are important, the first and foremost consideration is often “when” – as in, when exactly did the claim arise? This is because civil actions are subject to a statute of limitations, and lawsuits not filed within the time set by law are usually dismissed.

This is unfortunate because many otherwise valid claims may be dismissed when, if the action had been filed on time, the complaining party would likely have received a sizable settlement or judgment.

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hospital bed 7When a resident of a nursing home does not receive the level of care to which he or she is entitled, the resident, or a family member acting on his or her behalf, can file a lawsuit in a court of law seeking money damages in compensation for the wrongful conduct. In such a suit, there may be several theories of liability, including ordinary negligence, medical malpractice, and breach of contract.

Depending upon the circumstances, other claims may also be possible. In a recent case, the intermediate appellate court in Kentucky was asked to address a trial court’s dismissal of some of the claims brought against a nursing home and others. The Kentucky nursing home lawsuit was filed by the executor of the deceased woman’s estate.

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medicationAccording to government projections, the number of older Americans who rely upon nursing homes, alternative residential care, or home care services is steadily increasing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that this group will increase from approximately 15 million in the year 2000 to around 27 million by 2050. Since these vulnerable, often frail older people rely on others for health care, personal care, and supportive services, nursing home understaffing can drastically affect patient care, and it’s all too common.

The Expected Makeup of a Nursing Home Staff

It takes a variety of personnel to ensure that residents are properly cared for. This can include registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), certified nursing assistants (CNAs), physical therapists (PTs), and others, such as janitors, cooks, and office personnel. Every nursing home in the country is required to report its staffing hours to its state survey agency. While staffing hours is an important number because it shows the total number of hours worked divided by the total number of residents, it does not necessarily reflect the level of care given to any particular resident or even the general level of care on a given day.

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