Thursday, December 31, 2009

NYC Nursing Home to Pay $19M in Damages for Patient Neglect

A Brooklyn nursing home will have to fork over nearly $19 million in damages to the family of a 76-year-old patient neglected so badly that he left with more than 20 bedsores.

The massive award, handed down by a Brooklyn jury earlier this month, is the first in the state against a nursing home that includes punitive damages, lawyers said.

"It was horrible," said Margaret Whitehurst, 55, who pulled her father, John Danzy, from the Brooklyn Queens Nursing Home after just nine months. "He walked in on two legs and a cane. He was 237 pounds. When we got him back, he was 148 pounds and he had holes all over his body."

She and her siblings moved Danzy, a retired truck driver and butcher, to another nursing home. Six months later, in November 2003, he succumbed to an infection caused by the bedsores, according to testimony.

A Brooklyn jury deliberated two full days following the four-week trial before finding the Cypress Hills facility delivered substandard care.

The panel awarded $3.75 million for Danzy's pain and suffering, but tacked on $15 million in punitive damages, based in part on the allegation that the home had doctored records to try to cover up the neglect.

Lawyer Dennis Kelly said the first-ever imposition of punitive damages against a nursing home in New York state was due in part to evidence that the home tried to cover up the lack of care Danzy was getting.

An FBI expert testified that about 100 different skin-check notes showing "G" for "good" had been penned over to show "B" for "broken" — an effort by the home to claim it hadn't missed the horrific sores, Kelly said.

"Someone went back and wrote B's over the G's to cover their tracks, so they falsified the records, he said. "We believe that once they found out they were being sued, they went back and said, 'How could we have G's here when they guy has 20 sores?' "

The home's CEO, Leopold Berkowitz, did not return a call for comment, and the home's lawyer hung up on a Post reporter.

Kelly said the nursing home restrained the Alzheimer's-stricken Danzy to keep him from wandering off, but left him unattended for long periods.

He said medical standards require that bedridden or restrained patients be moved every two hours to prevent such sores, but that Brooklyn-Queens only moved Danzy every four hours — if at all.

Another of Danzy's daughters, Cynthia, said she and her siblings chose Brooklyn Queens because it was the only facility that had a bed available in 2002, when they realized he could no longer live on his own.

But it's a decision she'll regret forever.

"I think they should be shut down," said Cynthia Danzy, 46. "No one should endure that.",2933,581276,00.html

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Suit accuses nursing home of wrongful death

The executor of an estate for a former resident of Richmond Health and Rehabilitation is suing the home’s owners, alleging the resident received injuries there that led to his death.

Michael Cornett, executor of the estate of Jack Cornett, filed the suit Dec. 11 in Madison Circuit Court, accusing Fir Lane Terrace Convalescent Center Inc., doing business as Richmond Health and Rehabilitation Complex-Madison, Extendicare and three Richmond Health and Rehabilitation administrators — Tina McCaulley, Cindy Simpson and Robert Kirk, of providing negligent care that “accelerated the deterioration of Cornett’s health and physical condition beyond that caused by the normal aging process.”

The suit, filed on the one-year anniversary of Jack Cornett’s death, claims he was a resident at the home from early 2008 until he died on Dec. 11, 2008, in St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington. It alleges he suffered various injuries, including pressure sores, dehydration, compromised nutrition, weight loss, poor hygiene, infections, unexplained bruising, multiple falls, unnecessary physical pain, mental suffering and accelerated death.

“Jack Cornett also suffered unnecessary loss of personal dignity, pain and suffering, degradation, emotional distress and hospitalizations, all of which were caused by the negligent and wrongful conduct of the Defendants ... ,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Michael Cornett claims that Extendicare did not maintain adequate staffing at Richmond Health and Rehabilitation, negligently failing to deliver care, services and supervision.

It also alleges that Extendicare did not “develop, implement and follow policies to assist Jack Cornett in attaining and maintaining the highest level of physical, mental and psychological well-being,” failed to maintain Jack Cornett’s records “in accordance with accepted professional standards,” did not provide proper supervision, treatment and assessment to prevent falls and did not provide the resident with enough fluids to prevent dehydration.

The suit says Jack Cornett did not receive adequate sanitary care, medications, repositioning, turning and skin care to prevent the formation of pressure ulcers. Extendicare also is accused of not providing wound care, failing to make an adequate assessment of his nutritional needs, failing to prevent medication errors and a number of other similar claims.

Extendicare did not provide a sufficient number of qualified personnel to meet the resident’s needs, the lawsuit alleges.

“It was foreseeable,” the lawsuit claims, “that the breaches of care listed ... would result in serious injuries and the accelerated death of Jack Cornett.”

“ ... Extendicare Defendants acted with oppression, fraud, malice or were grossly negligent by acting with wanton or reckless disregard for the health and safety of Jack Cornett,” the suit reads.

The suit claims the conduct of the defendants was a “substantial factor in causing” the resident’s death, and asks for a jury trial. The plaintiff asserts a claim for judgment for all compensatory and punitive damages, including medical and funeral expenses and other administrative costs, pain and suffering, the grief suffered by beneficiaries, mental anguish, loss of spousal consortium and loss of life in an amount to be determined by the jury, as well as costs, interest and attorney’s fees.

Friday, December 18, 2009

1 Nurse, 2 Caretakers Indicted For Patient Neglect

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Attorney General Jack Conway announced the indictments of a nurse and two caregivers in connection with the alleged neglect of a patient at Creekwood Place Nursing Home in Logan County, Ky.

Barbara A. Moore, a nurse from Beechmont; Destiny W. Duncan, a certified nursing assistant from Russellville; and Melissa L. Lyon, a certified nursing assistant from Olmstead, were each indicted by the Logan County Grand Jury on one count of knowing abuse/neglect of an adult under KRS 209.990(2), a Class C felony.

Each person could face five to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The indictments allege that Lyon performed a single person lift to transfer the victim into bed when the victim’s care plan required a two person lift. This caused the victim to receive a fractured leg. Lyon, along with Duncan, allegedly concealed the true facts of the incident and Moore allegedly failed to call a physician or family member or check on the victim, all of which caused the victim prolonged suffering and pain.

Investigators from the Office of the Attorney General’s Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control investigated this case and presented it to the Logan County Grand Jury. The Grand Jury issued a summons for each defendant to appear for arraignment in Logan Circuit Court on Dec. 10, at 8:30 a.m. Logan County Commonwealth’s Attorney Gail Guiling is handling the prosecution of the case.

Nebraska Supreme Court Refuses to Compel Arbitration in Nursing Home Case

The present case comes as the U.S. Congress considers the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2009. This Act would render pre-dispute arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts unenforceable (Senate version: S.512 and Status; House version: H.R. 1237 and Status).

In Koricic v. Beverly Enters., 278 Neb. 713 (No. S-08-1167), Frank Koricic took his elderly mother, Manda Baker, to Beverly Hallmark (now operating as Beverly Enterprises), a nursing home in Omaha, Nebraska. In 2005, upon her admission into the facility, Koricic signed several documents for his mother, including an optional arbitration agreement.

Baker died in 2007, she allegedly sustained injuries and pain and suffering because of Beverly Hallmark’s negligence. Koricic sued Beverly claiming negligence, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. Beverly moved to compel arbitration of the claims. The district court concluded that the arbitration agreement was enforceable against Baker’s estate because Koricic had actual authority to sign the arbitration agreement. Koricic now appeals.

The Nebraska Supreme Court stated that whether an agency relationship exits and the scope of that authority are questions of fact. The court found that Baker was an immigrant from Croatia and had limited ability to read, speak, or understand English. Koricic often had to explain the documents to her, but he only took action upon Baker’s direction. Also, Baker was never declared incompetent nor granted Koricic power of attorney over her affairs. When Baker was admitted into the nursing home, Koricic signed the paperwork at an office, outside of Baker’s presence and Koricic never discussed the content of the admission papers with her.

The court discussed agency law principles (actual and apparent authority) and stated that “nothing in the record suggests that a reasonable person should have expected an arbitration agreement to be included with admission documents for a nursing home.”

The court held that Koricic did not have the authority to enter into an arbitration agreement on behalf of his mother because it was not a condition of admission. Accordingly, it remanded the case for further proceedings.

Chicago Jury finds Nursing Home Guilty in Bedsore Death

OLIET -- A local nursing home must pay up for a patient who died after suffering a huge bedsore that ate through her skin to the bone.

A jury on Monday ruled against Rosewood Care Center and awarded $51,000 to the family of Catherine Taylor in connection with her death in 2004. Rosewood Care Center must also cover the attorney fees incurred by Taylor's children over the course of the 5-year-old lawsuit.

"We feel vindicated that we proved that they did something wrong," said Frank Cservenyak, one of the attorneys representing Taylor's daughter, Mary Pat Barney, who was acting as the administrator of her mother's estate.

Taylor, who was 88 when she died in December 2004, was a resident of Rosewood in July and August 2004, On Aug. 19, 2004, Taylor, a former teacher, was taken to Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center and six days later "underwent a procedure to remove bedsores and treat bone infections brought on by her confinement to her bed and her exposure to urine and other bodily fluids during (her) care," according to the complaint against Rosewood.

"She had a hole in her backside the size of my fist," said an attorney representing Taylor's estate.

And Pyles said the bedsore was the fault of the nursing home staff.

"Rosewood screwed up on 8/18 (2004)," he said. "Everybody who testified in this case has told you about it, and it caused Catherine Taylor's death."

One of the attorneys representing Rosewood, pointed out that Taylor had bedsores on other parts of her body, proving that she did not suffer them as a result of neglect.
"If she wasn't being turned, how did that happen?" He asked the jury in his closing argument. "Something happened to her body that night," McCubbin said. "I don't know what it was. I don't think the doctors know what it was.",4_1_JO02_LAWSUIT_S1-091202.article

Saturday, December 12, 2009

100-Year-Old Woman Allegedly Killed in Massachusetts Nursing Home

100-Year-Old Woman Allegedly Killed at Massachusetts Brandon Woods Nursing Home: "Nursing homes often come under great scrutiny for alleged abuse of elderly or infirm inhabitants, but the death of a 100-year-old woman in Dartmouth, Massachusetts was shocking. reports that Laura Lundquist, 98, has been indicted in the murder of Elizabeth Barrow, her roommate at Brandon Woods Nursing Home. It's reported that the 100-year-old Barrow was found with a plastic bag tied over her head on September 24, while an autopsy ruled that strangulation was the cause of death. This is not the first Massachusetts Nursing Home Assault Indictment. Three years ago a nurse was charged with assaulting 4 residents in a Kindred Facility.

Although the roommates were often seen taking walks and ate lunch together daily, there are reports of heated arguments between the two in recent weeks, the latest being about the arrangement of their room. Barrow was displeased that Laura Lundquist had placed a table that seemed to obstruct the elder woman's path to the bathroom. Lundquist assaulted an employee at the home after the aide moved the table, while complaining that the elder roommate 'might as well have the whole room', according to prosecutors in Bristol County. Oddly, the two were still overhead at night saying 'Good night, I love you'."

Nursing home heads rarely disciplined

Illinois nursing home administrators are rarely disciplined when things go wrong -- including violent assaults on elderly patients -- even though the state Health Department, which investigates nursing home assaults and care, refers dozens of cases a year to the agency in charge of meting out punishment.

From 2005 through 2009, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation received 407 complaints from the state's health department. Only three resulted in discipline for nursing home administrators.

Advocates for nursing home residents say that's a sign of a broken system.

"Less than 1 percent is ridiculous," said Toby Edelman, an attorney with the nonprofit Center for Medicare Advocacy. "There should be more accountability on the part of the administrators."

The numbers were put together by a task force Gov. Pat Quinn formed after a series of assaults, rapes and murders in Illinois nursing homes. The task force is looking into why so few cases result discipline, said Michael Gelder, Quinn's senior health adviser. "We're absolutely very concerned about that," he said.

Advocates for nursing home residents are now watching to see whether Jamie L. Lloyd, administrator of Maplewood Care in Elgin, will be disciplined after a 21-year-old mentally ill resident sexually assaulted a 69-year-old woman at the home. The state's complaint alleges Lloyd didn't do enough digging into the young man's past before readmitting him to the Elgin facility. Had Lloyd checked, he would have discovered the former resident had an outstanding arrest warrant on felony battery charges.,CST-NWS-nhome13.article

GAO 2009 Nursing Home Report - Chains Offer Worst Care

GAO 2009 Nursing Home Report - Chains Offer Worst Care

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

nursing home abuse - elder care neglect |

nursing home abuse - elder care neglect |

A surveillance camera captured images of nursing home abuse in what has been deemed the second-worst elder care facility in the nation, according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Richmond Health and Rehabilitation Complex in Madison, also known as Madison Manor, was also ranked the worst facility in the state of Kentucky.

A total of ten Kentucky nursing homes made the national list of poor performers, with nine scoring below the national median. Madison Manor is owned by Extendicare, a for-profit chain that operates 21 facilities in the state. The Lexington Herald Leader reported Wednesday that three Extendicare facilities are on the GAO national list of worst performers.

Last year a hidden camera at the Richmond facility caught images of abuse inflicted on an 84-year-old resident by nursing aides. The resident, Armeda Thomas, has since died. However, in September of last year, Thomas' family hid a video camera in her room at Madison Manor in an effort to explain bruising on the resident's body.

Nursing assistants were seen physically abusing and taunting the Alzheimer's patient. The nursing assistants were also allegedly shown refusing to feed or bathe the resident. Nursing Home abuse is a form of medical malpractice.

Thomas died two months later. Her family proceeded to sue the nursing home, and three nurses' aides were indicted and charged with abuse, according to the Herald Leader. Jaclyn Dawn VanWinkle pleaded guilty earlier this year. Amanda G. Sallee stands trial in March and Valerie Lamb is set to enter a plea early in the new year.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Defendant faces trial in rape of 94-year-old Palo Alto woman - San Jose Mercury News

Defendant faces trial in rape of 94-year-old Palo Alto woman - San Jose Mercury News: "The man charged with raping a 94-year-old woman at her Palo Alto nursing home in 2002 appears headed for a jury trial.
In a five-hour preliminary hearing Friday, expert witnesses testified that compelling DNA evidence linked 42-year-old Roberto Recendes to the crime, and his former girlfriend identified a necklace found at the scene as belonging to him.
It was enough to convince Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Thang Nguyen Barrett that there is probable cause to hold Recendes on charges that could send him to prison for life if he's convicted. But defense attorney Carl Beatty said he believes Friday's testimony also exposed some holes in the prosecution's story.
The case gained national notoriety after Palo Alto police arrested and extracted a confession from a suspect in 2002, only to see him exonerated by DNA evidence. Jorge Hernandez, a Gunn High School graduate who was 18 at the time, was released after three months in jail.
The case appeared as though it might go unsolved; the victim said she never knew her attacker's identity. But in 2004, Recendes was convicted on domestic violence charges in Sunnyvale, and a DNA sample was taken before he was deported to Mexico. Authorities discovered the match two years later and eventually tracked him down, and he was extradited to the United States in 2008.
Meanwhile, the victim died in 2006, according to staff at the Palo Alto Commons nursing home."

Nursing home blamed for resident's sepsis | Madison/St. Clair Record

Nursing home blamed for resident's sepsis Madison/St. Clair Record

Nursing home blamed for resident's sepsis
A woman died after employees at an Illinois nursing home allowed her pressure sores to deteriorate, causing sepsis to flow throughout her blood, a man claims in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Steven Steiner filed a lawsuit Nov. 30 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Caseyville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Caseyville Property.

Steven Steiner claims Anderson Hospital admitted Theresa Mary Steiner on Dec. 6, 2008, after she began experiencing abdominal bleeding.

On Dec. 12, 2008, Caseyville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center admitted Theresa Steiner as its patient, according to the complaint. At the time of her admission, Theresa Steiner had three stage II pressure sores on her buttocks and one pressure sore on each of her heels, the suit states.

However, by the time of her discharge on Dec. 19, 2008, Theresa Steiner had three stage IV pressure sores on her buttocks and multiple pressure sores on her heels, the complaint says.

"Steiner sustained personal injuries, including, but not limited to, development and deterioration of her pressure sores on her buttocks and bilateral heels which, in turn, led to Steiner developing sepsis throughout her bloodstream," the suit states. "On December 19, 2008, Theresa Steiner was hospitalized at Memorial Hospital in Belleville, Illinois, where she subsequently died on January 7, 2009, due to sepsis and acute respiratory failure."

Before her death, Theresa Steiner experienced severe pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress and loss of dignity, Steven Steiner claims.

Steven Steiner blames the defendants for a number of negligent acts, including their failure to properly screen Theresa Steiner before admitting her, their failure to have an adequate wound care nurse on staff, their failure to develop an appropriate plan to treat Theresa Steiner's pressure sores, their failure to advise Theresa Steiner's physician of the deterioration of her pressure sores and their failure to adopt appropriate policies to treat pressure sores.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Registered sex offender groped mentally impaired woman in nursing home, government report states --

Registered sex offender groped mentally impaired woman in nursing home, government report states -- "Contrary to a nursing home's assurance that a registered sex offender presented no recent problems, a newly obtained government report and interviews show that the man allegedly groped a mentally impaired woman at the facility last month.

The Asta Care Center of Toluca in central Illinois failed to fully investigate the incident, implement an appropriate care plan for the sexual predator, Frank Aoskad, or properly monitor him to protect others, according to a Department of Public Health report obtained by the Tribune Friday.

The Facility acknowledged that administrators erred in not interviewing Aoskad or the female about the alleged sexual abuse, as required. But they disputed the state's claim that the nursing home did not monitor Aoskad or have a proper care plan for him.

A Tribune article Friday chronicled allegations of sexual abuse against Aoskad, 80, as part of a wider examination of Illinois nursing homes' failures to notify local law enforcement that they housed convicted sex offenders, as required by law, or to implement plans to isolate, monitor and treat the offenders inside the facilities.

Aoskad is alleged to have molested female residents in two prior incidents at the Asta Toluca home and a sister facility in Bloomington, according to state investigators."

10 Ky. nursing homes among worst in country - Latest News -

10 Ky. nursing homes among worst in country - Latest News - "Ten nursing homes in Kentucky, including one in Lexington, are among the most poorly performing in the United States, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
And, according to the GAO, which provides oversight of federal agencies for Congress, the nursing home receiving the worst scores in Kentucky was also the second most poorly performing nursing home in the United States. The report did not say which of the 10 named in Kentucky was the worst, and GAO official John Dicken said he could not provide the name.
Only 15 states had more poorly performing nursing homes than Kentucky, according to the report."

New York Injury News- Drugged: Illinois nursing home residents victimized - Injury News

New York Injury News- Drugged: Illinois nursing home residents victimized - Injury News: "Legal news for Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys. Nursing home residents throughout Illinois have been given dangerous drugs without cause.
Illinois nursing homes exposed for giving residents psychotropic drug treatment without cause or consent.
Chicago, IL—An in-depth investigative report compiled by the Chicago Tribune, exposed the ugly truth behind the treatment of the fail and vulnerable elderly nursing homes residents throughout the state of Illinois. The explosive report sheds light on the dark practices of Illinois nursing home caregivers who administer powerful and dangerous psychotropic drugs, which have led to debilitating injuries and even death among some of our most vulnerable residents."

State police sweeps removing sex offenders and ex-convicts from nursing homes were halted in 2006 --

State police sweeps removing sex offenders and ex-convicts from nursing homes were halted in 2006 -- "Amid reports that elderly and disabled residents were being assaulted and raped in nursing facilities, a state police unit in 2001 began raiding the homes to haul out unregistered sex offenders and ex-convicts with outstanding arrest warrants for crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder.

Elderly residents lined the corridors to applaud as Illinois State Police marched young thugs and sex offenders out of the nursing homes.

'Everybody was cheering,' former state police Sgt. Rick Klimes recalled.

'We would walk these felons out and the older people would be so glad that we were getting rid of them.'

From January 2005 through June 2006, when 20 northern Illinois nursing homes were swept and roughly 80 fugitives and sex offenders removed, state police in that area recorded a nearly 67 percent decrease in nursing home abuse and neglect complaints, according to a department citation issued to the sweeps unit."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Ex-nursing home employee gets jail

LAS CRUCES - A 35-year-old former nursing home employee convicted of resident abuse received the maximum jail sentence in Las Cruces District Court on Wednesday, according to District Attorney Susana Martinez.

Judge Lisa Schultz sentenced Joseph Anthony Garcia to the maximum 18 months in jail, plus four years' enhancement for two prior convictions on felony charges of breaking and entering and cocaine trafficking.

Garcia, with a P.O. Box in Las Cruces and street addresses in Truth or Consequences and Albuquerque, was indicted on a charge of abuse of a nursing home resident on Sept. 7, 2007.

Garcia's background was never checked before becoming employed at Las Cruces Nursing Home, Martinez said. While working there, Garcia beat a 76-year-old man about the head, chest, stomach and back while preparing him for bed, Martinez said. She said the man has since recovered.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Psychotropic drugs given to nursing home patients without cause

Frail and vulnerable residents of nursing homes throughout Illinois are being dosed with powerful psychotropic drugs, leading to tremors, dangerous lethargy and a higher risk of harmful falls or even death, a Tribune investigation has found.

Thousands of elderly and disabled people have been affected, many of them drugged without their consent or without a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis that would justify treatment, state and federal inspection reports show.

Lloyd Berkley, 74, was in a nursing home near Peoria for less than a day before staff members held him down and injected him with a large amount of an antipsychotic drug, according to a state citation. A few hours later he fell, suffering a fatal head injury.

One woman was given a psychotropic drug partly because she refused to wear a bra. Nursing home staff administered an antipsychotic medication to an 87-year-old man because he was "easily annoyed."

In all, the Tribune identified 1,200 violations at Illinois nursing homes involving psychotropic medications since 2001. Those infractions affected 2,900 patients.

The actual numbers are likely far higher because regulators inspect some facilities just once every 15 months, and even then they usually check only a small sample of residents for harm.

The Tribune's unprecedented review of more than 40,000 state and federal inspection reports found that nursing homes ranging from "five-star" establishments on the North Shore to run-down facilities in urban neighborhoods have been cited for improperly administering psychotropic drugs.

The paper's review took into account violations for "chemical restraint" and "unnecessary drugs" as well as cases involving dosages that exceeded safety standards or falls in which psychotropics possibly played a role.

While some nursing home residents suffer from major mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, the inspection reports show that many patients harmed by antipsychotic drugs had not been diagnosed with psychosis. They were disabled by Alzheimer's disease, cancer or Parkinson's disease. Some were blind or so frail that they could not breathe without the aid of an oxygen tank.

The findings come at a difficult time for Illinois nursing homes, which are already under fire for housing violent felons alongside geriatric patients and for failing to accurately assess the risk posed by the most serious offenders.

The misuse of psychotropics, which some experts say is a nationwide problem in nursing homes, suggests a troubling future for many seniors. The Tribune found 12 patients, including Berkley, whose deaths led to nursing home citations involving misuse of psychotropics.

In testimony before Congress two years ago, Food and Drug Administration estimated that thousands of nursing home residents die each year because antipsychotic drugs are administered to patients who are not mentally ill. Graham is known for blowing the whistle on Vioxx, the painkiller tied to heart attacks, but his warning on the psychotropics issue has drawn little attention.

New York researcher Christie Teigland, who is analyzing medical data on 275,000 nursing home residents with dementia, said she is finding that those on psychotropic drugs were more likely to fall or experience general decline than others.

SunBridge Nursing home cited after man's genitals disintegrate

An Everett nursing home is facing a lawsuit after an elderly resident's genitals disintegrated while staff allegedly failed to act.

Charles Bradley, then 93, arrived at Everett Care & Rehabilitation in the winter of 2004, suffering from the usual maladies of old age, according to court documents. He continued to live at the nursing home until two weeks before his death, which came on March 31, 2008, when he was rushed to the emergency room with a life-threatening -- but previously undetected -- malady.

In court documents, attorneys for Bradley's family claim staff at the nursing home left a wound on the elderly man untreated for months. That injury, apparently the result of an undiagnosed penile cancer, purportedly contributed to his death.

By allowing Bradley's injury to fester and worsen for months, plaintiffs' attorney claimed, the nursing home and parent company SunBridge Healthcare Corp. violated a promise to care for him

According to the complaint, staff at Everett Care & Rehabilitation noticed that Bradley's skin was breaking down while changing his diaper in November 2007.

Though staff notified a care manager, that manager allegedly failed to notify Bradley's doctor. Instead, according to the allegations, the manager "left to go on vacation and 'forgot' to tell the doctor."

During the four months that followed the initial notice of the wound, Bradley's genitals essentially broke apart bit by bit, the complaint contends, while the elderly man steadily lost weight. The injury was not treated until Bradley was taken to the Providence Medical Center on March 13, 2008.

Initially diagnosing Bradley with pneumonia, doctors there found only an infected, open wound on the man's groin, according to the complaint. Doctors later determined that Bradley was afflicted with penile cancer; Bradley died two weeks later.

"There was no evidence the facility had contacted the resident's physician … to allow for timely medical intervention," the state investigators said in an investigatory report provided by DSHS. "There was no evidence the facility had contracted their social services department or the resident's family." The center was cited and forced to take corrective action.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Arbitration Panel Finds for Nursing Home Pressue Sore Victim

An arbitration panel found in favor of the estate of Mrs. Voncil Sherrod, who died on 3/24/05 from gangrene, which developed during her residency at High Pointe Health and Rehabilitation, a Mariner Health Care nursing home in Tennessee.

The causes of action included claims for ordinary negligence, violation of the Tennessee Adult Protection Act (TAPA), and medical malpractice. Plaintiffs sought to recover compensatory and punitive damages, together with attorneys fees for violation of TAPA. Claims were asserted against Mariner Health Care, Inc. (the parent corporation), Mariner Health Care Management (the management company), and National Heritage Realty, Inc. (the licensee). Plaintiffs averred that the three companies operated the facility as a joint venture and that they served as the alter egos of one another.

"It is outrageous that Mrs. Sherrod was treated so horrifically. She wasn't turned and repositioned and developed terrible pressure ulcers. She wasn't kept clean and developed infections. In addition, she suffered the indignity of languishing in her own waste for long periods of time. We can only hope that other nursing homes take heed and reconsider the way in which they operate their facilities. It is particularly satisfying to have unanimous decisions when you seek justice for a negligence victim's family," said Kenneth Connor.

The arbitration panel, was comprised of two former trial and appellate judges and a lawyer who had represented Mariner. The parties each selected an arbitrator and those two arbitrators picked a third arbitrator who presided over the proceeding. The panel rendered its award, finding unanimously for the Plaintiff on the ordinary negligence, medical malpractice and TAPA survival claims. The damage awards (items X and XII in the link) were determined by a majority of the panel. A copy of the Arbitration Panel's findings is linked here: (

The amounts awarded, totaling $2,773,396.32 were as follows:

  • TAPA violations -- $250,000
  • Attorneys fees for intentional, malicious or fraudulent misconduct resulting in a TAPA violation -- $400,000
  • Medical malpractice -- $626,396.32
  • Punitive damages -- $1,500,000
see article

Arbitration Panel Finds in Favor of Tennessee Victim of Mariner Nursing Home

Arbitration Panel Finds in Favor of Tennessee Victim of Mariner Nursing Home

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Battle Zone - Nursing Homes?

In a nursing home near Denver, Sharon Kenney’s mother was waiting, and waiting, for an aide to answer her call bell and help her to the bathroom. Her daughter stayed on the phone with her for 45 increasingly desperate minutes. Finally Ms. Kenney hung up, called the desk nurse and asked that someone be sent to assist her mother. The ensuing conversation, as she recalls it:

Nurse: “We’re really busy and we have a lot of residents here. You’ll have to wait your turn.”

Ms. Kenney (after long pause): “That’s not the answer I was expecting. The answer I was expecting was, ‘I’m so sorry, we’ll send someone right down there.’”

Nurse: “I only have one person on that wing. She needs to wait.”

Ms. Kenney: “Maybe you could go down and help her. Do I have to drive over there and help her myself?”

The nurse and Ms. Kenney made peace a few days later, but whenever there’s a problem, a question, a tiff, Ms. Kenney takes notes. Her motto for dealing with the staff, even at an excellent nursing home where her mother lives happily: “Be as polite as possible. But relentless.”

On the other hand, and there is always another hand, Tracy Dudzinski, a certified nursing assistant, worked in a central Wisconsin nursing home for seven years. Interactions with residents’ relatives usually remained pleasant but, she said, “Some family members were rather rude. They thought you were their slave: ‘Do this, do that, do it now.’ They were bossy — they talked down to you. I don’t think most of them realized one aide was responsible for eight to 15 patients.”

Nursing home staff and family members tangle — how could it be otherwise? Family members, doing something no one ever really wants to do, grapple with stress, guilt and raw emotion as they turn daily care for a loved one over to strangers. And virtually all nursing homes are chronically short-staffed, with too few aides and nurses scurrying to help too many residents, who are more impaired and suffer higher rates of dementia than their peers a couple of decades ago. Even staffers who want to provide warm, personal attention rarely have the time.

“Staff and family members often have very strong stereotypes about one another,” said Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist at Cornell University who has researched these relationships for 20 years. “The staff sometimes feel families complain excessively — they’re too demanding. On the flip side, families sometimes feel that staff aren’t sufficiently caring, that staff are rude to them . . . . They often feel they have to coach the staff about how to care for their relative.”

“And then you add the situation where often staff and family are culturally different,” Dr. Pillemer continued. “They don’t come from the same socioeconomic status; they may be racially and ethnically different. Even though both share a common goal, the circumstances provide a fertile environment for conflict, anger and misunderstanding.”

Take my friend Cynthia Dyer-Bennet, usually an even-tempered sort. She grew frustrated when the aides caring for her mother in a dementia facility outside San Francisco seemed to routinely neglect brushing her teeth. “I could tell because her toothbrush was always bone-dry,” Ms. Dyer-Bennet said. The staff denied any problem. “They’d say, ‘We did brush her teeth.’ I’d say, ‘No, look, here’s her toothbrush — it’s dry at 9:30 in the morning.’ They’d lie to me.”

She understood that with three aides caring for 27 residents, the staff was doing its best. She knew, firsthand, that with an Alzheimer’s patient, brushing teeth can take 20 minutes. But she persisted, citing what she saw as broken promises about diet and activities, as well as oral hygiene. “It reached the point where the caregivers didn’t want to see me because I was waving a toothbrush, and the administrators didn’t want to see me because they didn’t want to hear complaints,” Ms. Dyer-Bennet said. She eventually moved her mother elsewhere.

Fighting with people who should be partners is miserable for all parties (and raises families’ fears that aides may retaliate by ignoring, or even harming, relatives). But the consequences go beyond mere unpleasantness, research by Dr. Pillemer and his colleagues show.

Family members who perceive conflict with staff have significantly higher levels of depression, according to a 2007 study conducted in 20 upstate New York nursing homes. And interviews with nearly 700 nursing home nurses and nursing assistants revealed that conflict with family members increases staff burnout and lowers job satisfaction, which contributes to the sky-high staff turnover rates that already plague many nursing homes.

Family-staff frictions can be ameliorated, though. Connie Kreider, a C.N.A. in Lancaster County, Pa., nursing homes for 12 years, has seen it happen. “If families see who you are, get to know you, if you ask for their opinions so they feel comfortable with you, you iron things out,” she said.

Officials find sexual abuse at St. Louis Park nursing home

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- State investigators are reporting that a nursing assistant at a St. Louis Park nursing home sexually abused a resident who has dementia.

The report released Thursday says Texas Terrace Care Center has suspended the employee and police have referred the case for possible criminal sexual conduct charges.

Four earlier cases of nursing home abuse have been uncovered in Minnesota since August 2008.

In the latest finding, the state Health Department says the resident reported that the nursing assistant kissed her on the mouth and touched her sexually in July. Two other residents said the employee had kissed them, with one saying he touched her stomach.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Medical Malpractice Nursing Home Abuse Neglect: Illinois ranks high on bad nursing home report

Medical Malpractice Nursing Home Abuse Neglect: Illinois ranks high on bad nursing home report

Illinois ranks high on bad nursing home report

Illinois has the nation’s second-highest number of nursing homes that have been flagged as having poor quality, according to a new federal report.

Forty-seven Illinois nursing homes are among facilities that perform “most poorly” on quality-of-care measures, according to a study released by the General Accounting Office. It’s second only to Indiana’s 52 facilities.

The report rated homes on staffing levels, procedures to prevent bed sores, measures to prevent abuse and neglect and other factors. Ones that were included among the poorly performing facilities averaged a 46% greater number of serious deficiencies that harmed residents when compared to other homes.

The study recommends vastly expanding a federal program that closely monitors U.S. nursing homes with the worst quality ratings, to 580 facilities from the current 136. The GAO did not list the facilities by name.

It also highlights a shortcoming in the way that program, run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is administered. The 136 homes that now undergo more-frequent inspections are the worst performers in their respective states. But some states, like Illinois, perform worse than others, which means many homes that deserve closer scrutiny slip through the cracks.

The study urges CMS to consider a facility’s performance relative to other homes nationally, which likely would label many more Illinois facilities as poor performing.

CMS officials told the GAO they disagreed with relying solely on a national comparison. The agency said it would consider an approach that allows for a national comparison to have more weight.

Officials from the state’s largest nursing home trade group, the Health Care Council of Illinois, which represents for-profit facilities, said they hadn’t had a chance to review the report and would not be able to comment.

Homes rated as poorly performing tend to be larger, with an average of 102 residents; for-profit and part of a chain, and have an average of nearly 24% fewer registered-nurses hours relative to the number of patients.

Several large states had far fewer poor quality homes than Illinois, including Ohio (three), Pennsylvania (six); New York (18) and California (40).

Nationally, there are about 16,000 nursing homes. So the 580 homes that the GAO’s report describes as the worst-performing represents almost 4% of the nation's nursing homes.

Separately, the Chicago Tribune reported in a front-page story Tuesday that 15% of Illinois’ nursing home residents are mentally ill and more than 3% have been convicted of serious felonies. Illinois houses mentally ill patients in nursing homes at a rate greater than any other state, placing residents at greater risk of being harmed by other patients, the story says

see also

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CNA Charged with Choking Elder Resident

PRINCETON — A certified nursing assistant at Good Samaritan Home and Rehabilitation Center in Oakland City is charged with choking and punching one of the facility’s residents.

Bryan C. Dillman, 29, of Oakland City, was arrested Thursday morning for a felony battery charge after police were called to the home in reference to a battery with injury on a woman living at the home.

According to an affidavit for probable cause, a nurse at the home, Sharlet Sillz, found Dillman asleep in a recliner in the room of DeeAnn Hoffman.

The affidavit says Sillz told Dillman she would not report him because “she knows that he is tired and that he has kids.”

Hoffman, who had been undergoing a test, went back to her room.

Sillz then told police she heard Hoffman yelling “please don’t hurt me” and Sillz heard a smacking noise coming from Hoffman’s room.

Dillman then quickly walked away and Sillz went into the room. According to the affidavit, Hoffman said to Sillz that Dillman had tried to choke her and hit her numerous times in the face.

After police spoke with Hoffman, she said she had told Dillman she was ready for a shower when Dillman jumped out of a chair, got behind her and put both hands around her neck and choked her.

According to the charging information, Hoffman told police Dillman punched her in the face with his fist."

Tri-State Media

Nursing Home Blamed For Patient Death | TriCities

Nursing Home Blamed For Patient Death TriCities: "BRISTOL, Tenn. – Ninety-eight-year-old Anne Brightwell died in a hospice bed June 16, family members said, after months of screaming over a fractured left femur that would not heal.
Her upper leg bone shattered Feb. 6, when a hammock sling, used by Cambridge House nursing home staff to hoist her from a bed to a wheelchair, snapped. A medical examiner listed the broken femur as the cause of death on Brightwell’s death certificate.
Daughter Ruth Countiss said the fall could have been prevented, and accuses the nursing home of regularly using aging and tattered slings, but throwing newer equipment into use only when Tennessee Health Department inspectors arrived.
Three former Cambridge House employees say administrators hid daily-use equipment from inspectors, only to later pull it out after tucking away the newer items until the next state visit.
On Monday, Countiss filed a $2 million personal injury lawsuit in Bristol, Tenn. General Sessions Court arguing that Cambridge House “knowingly, intentionally and recklessly placed the safety of its residents .... in harm’s way to save money.”"


Monday, September 28, 2009

CA Nursing Homes Carry No Insurance - Victims No Recovery for Abuse or Neglect

n 2007, Grover Brown, a paraplegic 37-year-old, debilitated by multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, developed a pressure sore soon after arriving at the High Street Care Center in East Oakland.

The sore erupted in March. By August, surgeons had removed his tailbone because the wound had festered without treatment, court documents showed.

Brown is suing High Street Care Center, which had a long list of citations from the Department of Public Health — 164 between 2004 and 2008. The facility is owned by Trinity Health Systems, whose president, Randal Kleis, has operated about a dozen facilities across the state under several corporate names.

But Brown, now 39, likely won't see more than a token settlement from High Street Care Center because skilled-nursing facilities, nursing homes and assisted-living care facilities — charged with caring for the sickest and most helpless Americans whose numbers are rapidly growing each year — are not required to carry liability insurance. The amount of the settlement he may ultimately receive is unlikely to cover the cost of care Brown will require as the result of his shoddy treatment at the High StreetCare Center, Renneisen said. The government will end up picking up the tab for his care.

And Kleis' other assets are untouchable because they were legally registered as separate corporate entities — a common way operators shield themselves and their profits.

full article

Felons working in nursing homes?

Florida seniors and disabled adults too frail to live on their own have been beaten, neglected and robbed by caregivers with criminal records according to an article in the Sun Sentinel.

A cancer patient at a Pompano Beach assisted living facility watched helplessly from bed as a nurse's aide with a record for theft rifled through her handbag and stole $165.

A video camera caught an aide at a North Miami Beach group home for the disabled shoving a cerebral palsy patient face-first to the floor, busting her lip. The aide had previously pleaded guilty to criminal assault and never should have been working there.

More than 3,500 people with criminal records — including rape, robbery and murder — have been allowed to work with the elderly, disabled and infirm through exemptions granted by the state the past two decades, a Sun Sentinel investigation found. Hundreds more slipped through because employers failed to check their backgrounds or kept them on the job despite their criminal past.

Screening gaps

Florida has a patchwork of controls for checking caregivers of the elderly that seems to put more emphasis on protecting against embezzlement than safeguarding patients.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pressure Sore Kills

Verda Henry, a 73-year-old life-long NY resident, entered a County nursing home in 2005 after she fell and injured her arm, thinking she would receive therapy and be home in a month.

Two years later, after repeated denied requests to go home, the grandmother of 15 died in the New Rochelle nursing home, partially because of a horrific, infected bedsore, according to her family and court records.

Henry's daughter, Patricia, filed a Nursing Home lawsuit against the Sutton Park Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation and said she and her children visited her normally active mother every day at Sutton Park, often for eight hours.

"There would be a nurse and she would run between floors and they had no time," Henry said. "Nobody checks on her. Nobody feeds her. Every time we asked to take her home there was a reason we couldn't."

One day, Patricia Henry went to change her mother's gown and noticed the bedsore, already in an advanced stage, over her mother's tail bone.

Within days the sore was infected and she heard her mother's last words - screams - as doctors scraped at blackened skin.

"You could put your whole hand down in her back," she said. "You could see the bones and spinal cord. It was like raw meat. Mommy screamed until she couldn't scream no more."

An administrator at the home said it could not immediately comment on the case. South Shore Medical Center did not return a call for comment.

Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, are lesions caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin. They are largely preventable by making sure a patient is regularly moved or turned every two hours, but are also often fatal once infected.

Patricia Henry's lawyer said there is no systemwide recordkeeping of bedsores, so that patients or families comparing nursing homes can make informed decisions.

Henry said she wants justice for her mother, who died a painful death because of a negligent system.

"I'm sorry I saw it, but I'm glad I saw it," Henry said. "They weren't telling us how bad it was and my mother couldn't tell me anymore."


Pressure Sore Stats

Data from the National Nursing Home Survey, 2004

  • In 2004, about 159,000 current U.S. nursing home residents (11%) had pressure ulcers. Stage 2 pressure ulcers were the most common.
  • Residents aged 64 years and under were more likely than older residents to have pressure ulcers.
  • Residents of nursing homes for a year or less were more likely to have pressure ulcers than those with longer stays.
  • One in five nursing home residents with a recent weight loss had pressure ulcers.
  • Thirty-five percent of nursing home residents with stage 2 or higher (more severe) pressure ulcers received special wound care services in 2004.

Pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores, pressure sores, or decubitus ulcers, are wounds caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin (1). They usually develop over bony prominences, such as the elbow, heel, hip, shoulder, back, and back of the head (1-3). Pressure ulcers are serious medical conditions and one of the important measures of the quality of clinical care in nursing homes (1,4). From about 2% to 28% of nursing home residents have pressure ulcers (2,3). The most common system for staging pressure ulcers classifies them based on the depth of soft tissue damage, ranging from the least severe (stage 1) to the most severe (stage 4). There is persistent redness of skin in stage 1; a loss of partial thickness of skin appearing as an abrasion, blister, or shallow crater in stage 2; a loss of full thickness of skin, presented as a deep crater in stage 3; and a loss of full thickness of skin exposing muscle or bone in stage 4. Clinical practice guidelines for pressure ulcers have been developed and provide specific treatment recommendations for stage 2 or higher pressure ulcers, including proper wound care (5). This Data Brief presents the most recent national estimates of pressure ulcer prevalence, resident characteristics associated with pressure ulcers, and the use of wound care services in U.S. nursing homes.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Nursing home aide accused of muffling patient

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — An aide at a Grand Junction nursing home has been arrested on charges of using a pillow to silence a screaming patient.

Twenty-three-year-old Errin Hubbard of Grand Junction was arrested Saturday on suspicion of third-degree assault of an at-risk victim and neglect of an at-risk victim.

Hubbard had an unlisted phone number and couldn't be reached for comment.

A heavily redacted affidavit released by police alleges another nurse's aide saw Hubbard put a pillow over the face of a patient at Larchwood Inns nursing home.

The affidavit says the patient, a woman diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, cannot walk on her own.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nursing Home Arbitration Preys on Vulnerable Seniors

More and more nursing home corporations are using forced arbitration clauses as a way to avoid accountability for their negligence. Inserted in the fine print of lengthy admission documents, many families are unaware they have signed away their rights until something tragic happens.

Families who face the stress and anxiety of placing a loved one in a nursing home are often in a frazzled state when signing these contracts and sometimes have no other options for care. Nursing homes frequently use tactics like allowing family members with no power of attorney to sign, asking patients with dementia or other debilitating conditions, forcing elderly spouses to sign and even gathering together a group of seniors without family members present in order to force them to sign.

The bipartisan Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (S. 512 / H.R. 1237), sponsored by Senators Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) in the House, bans pre-dispute forced arbitration clauses from nursing home contracts. The House Judiciary committee passed the legislation in July and the Senate is expected to consider the legislation in committee before Congress goes out of session.

Legislation is needed to counter draconian Court decisions such as that in Massachusetts which recently upheld these agreements. See Decision. A major problem with Arbitration is that there is often very limited or no discovery allowed before a hearing.

The facts

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Virginia Nursing Home Sexual Battery Charged

BRISTOL, Va. – The first time Patricia Davenport complained about a nursing aide’s mistreatment of a patient, she was told she saw it wrong.The second time Davenport complained – and no action was taken – she quit the nursing job she’d had for only six months at the National HealthCare nursing home on North Street.....

James W. Wright, 35, was indicted Tuesday on four counts of aggravated sexual battery. Each count stems from the investigation into the treatment of a different patient from 2000 to 2007, including the lady Davenport said she saw in the wheelchair and another patient who is blind, authorities said.

Davenport said the first time she stumbled upon the abuse of patients was in August 2007. It was the sound of a rocking wheelchair that grabbed her attention, she said, as she strode down a hallway. She peeked into a patient’s room and saw a woman shaking in her wheelchair. The woman’s shirt and bra had been shoved high on her chest. A nurse’s aide was standing behind the wheelchair, and he was reaching around to fondle the patient’s breasts.“She looked like she was just getting ready to break down,” Davenport said. “She just looked at you like ... she was so confused and hurt.”

Davenport said she quit soon after that incident.“You look at those people every day in the face knowing they’re getting abuse and you can’t do anything because nobody’s got your back,” Davenport said. “I don’t want to go back to nursing.”

full article

Monday, August 17, 2009

Retraining after allegations of Elder forced to eat feces

According to the Quincy Patriot Ledger, Mon August 17th, 2009,
The resident aid staff at the Atrium at Faxon Woods in Quincy were 'retrained' following allegations described by the newspaper as "Horror" and including allegations of abuse that included an elderly alheimers victim having to "eat her own feces"

Elder Abuse "Horror" in Quincy, MA.

A 23-year-old nurse’s aide from Quincy has been arrested after police say she tormented and abused elder residents at a home for people with memory loss.

Kara A. Murphy, a nurse aide since 2004, manhandled at least four elderly residents at the Atrium at Faxon Woods during a shift last Saturday, police said They also said she boasted to another caregiver about force-feeding an 89-year-old woman her own feces.

The charges against Murphy are based entirely on the account of another employee who reported the incidents Tuesday to her director, police said.

None of the victims had any recollection of the incidents, police said.

Murphy, of 38 Scammell St., Quincy, pleaded innocent on Friday in Quincy District Court. She is charged with seven counts of assault and battery on disabled persons older than 60.

Judge Mark Coven ordered her to remain under house arrest until authorities can fit her with a GPS tracking device. Murphy is next due in court on Oct. 8.

A woman who answered the door at Murphy’s home said the family had no comment.

Teri Marinko, vice president of marketing and communications for Benchmark Assisted Living, which runs the facility, said Murphy was immediately fired after the company conducted its own investigation.

Marinko said she did not know when Murphy was hired. Department of Public Health records show that Murphy was registered as a nurse’s aide following a competency evaluation in June 2004.

Marinko said there were no prior complaints about Murphy. All potential employees are checked for criminal convictions, she said.

“All the families that have loved ones at the community have been notified,” Marinko said. “We remain confident in the safety and security processes in place to ensure the well-being of our residents.”

The Atrium, on Falls Boulevard, has 60 private apartments and caters to people with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other forms of memory loss. There are color cues in the halls to help residents navigate the facility. Monthly rates start at $5,500.

A report by Quincy police officer James Whedbee reads like a sordid tale of elder abuse that, according to witness’s account, began at 8 a.m. in the bathroom of an 89-year-old resident.

According to the employee who reported Murphy, when the woman tried to stand up from the toilet, Murphy grabbed her by the jaw and forced her back down, saying, “I should make her eat it.”

Murphy then admitted to having carried out that threat in the past, the witness said.

Afterward, when the woman refused to take her medication, Murphy allegedly forced open her mouth and poured in water, which spilled down her neck as the woman pushed her caregiver away.

Later, the co-worker said, she witnessed Murphy push a 92-year-old into her wheelchair and backhand the woman in the forehead because she “was not moving fast enough.”

Murphy mockingly bounced on the lap of another wheelchair-bound woman and punched a different woman in the shoulder, the report says.

In the afternoon, Murphy taunted her co-worker for changing the clothes of a woman who had urinated on herself and recommended she leave it for the next shift, police said.

Quincy’s elder services director, Thomas F. Clasby, said the allegations were stunning.

“If it’s true, it’s disgusting and sickening,” he said.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Coverage Denied: How the Current Health Insurance System Leaves Millions Behind

New Gov Report

“Pre-Existing Conditions” Affect Millions of Americans

A large proportion of Americans have health conditions that insurance companies can qualify as “pre-existing conditions.”

A pre-existing condition is a medical condition that existed before someone applies for or enrolls in a new health insurance policy. It can be something as prevalent as heart disease – which affects one in three adults1 – or something as life-changing as cancer, which affects 11 million Americans.2

But a pre-existing condition does not have to be a serious disease like cancer or heart disease. Even relatively minor conditions like hay fever, asthma, or previous sports injuries can trigger high premiums or denials of coverage.3

Unattainable Health Coverage

Insurance discrimination based on pre-existing conditions makes adequate health insurance unavailable to millions of Americans.

In 45 states across the country, insurance companies can discriminate against people based on their pre-existing conditions when they try to purchase health insurance directly from insurance companies in the individual insurance market.4 Insurers can deny them coverage, charge higher premiums, and/or refuse to cover that particular medical condition.

A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults5 – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years.6

In another survey, one in 10 people with cancer said they could not obtain health coverage, and six percent said they lost their coverage, because of being diagnosed with the disease.7

It is still legal in nine states for insurers to reject applicants who are survivors of domestic violence, citing the history of domestic violence as a pre-existing condition.8

Even when offering coverage, insurers can exclude whole categories of illnesses related to a pre-existing condition. For example, someone with a pre-existing condition of hay fever could have any respiratory system disease – such as bronchitis or pneumonia – excluded from coverage.9

Losing Coverage When You Need It Most

Thousands of Americans also lose health insurance each year through a practice called rescission.

When a person is diagnosed with an expensive condition such as cancer, some insurance companies review his/her initial health status questionnaire. In most states’ individual insurance market, insurance companies can retroactively cancel the entire policy if any condition was missed – even if the medical condition is unrelated, and even if the person was not aware of the condition at the time. Coverage can also be revoked for all members of a family, even if only one family member failed to disclose a medical condition.10

A recent Congressional investigation into this practice found nearly 20,000 rescissions from three large insurers over five years, saving them $300 million in medical claims11 – $300 million that instead had to come out of the pockets of people who thought they were insured, or became bad debt for health care providers.

At least one insurance company has been found to evaluate employee performance based in part on the amount of money an employee saved the company through rescissions.12 Simply put, these insurance company employees are encouraged to revoke sick people’s health coverage.

The Need for a Solution

High-risk pools, which have been used by states to cover the “medically uninsurable,” do not work.

Thirty-five states offer a high-risk pool for people who have been denied coverage in the individual insurance market or otherwise cannot obtain insurance.13 However, high-risk pools generally charge significantly higher rates than they charge for a healthy individual in the individual insurance market,14 meaning that only relatively high-income people can afford the coverage. One study estimated that only eight percent of the uninsurable population is able to enroll in high-risk pools, mainly because of high premiums.15

Benefits through a high-risk pool are also not guaranteed. Some state high-risk pools have annual caps on enrollment, or limit eligibility only to people who had prior group health coverage in the preceding 63 days. And one state high-risk pool has been closed to new beneficiaries since 1991.16

All high-risk pools also impose pre-existing condition exclusions for six months to one year, during which time care for the very condition that made someone uninsurable is not covered.17

Health Insurance Reform Will Provide Stability and Security for All Americans

Under health insurance reform, insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing coverage because of someone’s medical history or health risk.

Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies will not be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.

And insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who are or become ill.

Health Care Reform - Obama's Coalition

With the push for health care reform in a critical stretch, some bizarre coalitions are stepping up the fight to see the legislation through to the finish line.

One of the most peculiar, Healthy Economy Now, is spending millions to pressure members of Congress to get on board with health care reform.

The organization has brought together stakeholders from across the spectrum -- the pharmaceutical industry, doctors, union interests, business interests and advocacy groups among them.

The common thread for these strange bedfellows? Self-interest, observers say.

"Either you're sitting down at the table or you're on the menu," said Ernest Istook, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

With the option of a national coverage mandate on the table, industry groups stand to win tens of millions of new customers regardless of the concessions the federal government extracts from them. Advocacy groups get the reform they wanted and union groups can win added benefits for their members.

"This whole thing has a lot of fascinating coalitions," Istook said, calling them a "convergence of individual self-interests rather than a shared vision of what is going to be best for the country as a whole."

In a statement, the senior vice president for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America -- one of the coalition members -- said the groups came together because they share the goal of improving the economy through health care reform.

"We believe that without health care reform, America will continue to get sicker and poorer," Ken Johnson said, adding that a "healthier economy can happen if we have a healthier workforce."

Regardless of motive, such coalitions could prove vital to President Obama and his allies in Congress as opponents of health care reform flood town hall meetings to meet with their representatives during August recess.

According to a recent report, drug makers stand ready to spend $150 million to help Obama get the legislation passed.

The Healthy Economy Now ad buys have so far cost $12 million, according to another account. The group so far has run three ads in states targeting key lawmakers in the health care policy process.

The most recent ad warns that medical costs will skyrocket "if we don't act," and Americans will continue to lose coverage and benefits.

"But we can act," the narrator says. "The president and Congress have a plan to lower your costs and stop denials for pre-existing conditions. It's time to act."

The ads reportedly were made by companies with close ties to Democrats and the White House.

Healthy Economy Now includes Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the AARP, the American Medical Association, the Business Roundtable, Families USA and the Service Employees International Union, among others.

But at this murky stage in the debate, it's becoming less and less clear what is in the best interest of these organizations.

Several of them got on the bandwagon out of sheer survival instinct. They came to the table when public opinion was more favorable toward comprehensive legislation and Obama-led reform seemed inevitable. It was seen as better for industry organizations to get on board and shape legislation to their advantage than to actively oppose it while a bill that meets few of their needs tracked toward the president's desk.

"I think the groups just naturally want to be at the table thinking they're going to come out of it better," said Rick Scott, who heads Conservatives for Patients' Rights, one of the leading groups campaigning against the legislation in Washington.

But with public opinion starting to turn and town hall meetings getting raucous, it's unclear whether these groups backed the winning horse.

"We'll wait to see what September brings and if there's cracks in some of these coalitions," Istook said.

A crack started to show this week, after Obama claimed the AARP was "on board" with his health care plan. The line apparently hit a soft spot for the seniors group, which, though claiming to be nonpartisan and not behind any specific legislation, has appeared to side with Obama on health care reform -- even hosting a town hall-style event with him last month -- to the dismay of some of its members. The group drew the line after Obama claimed he had their endorsement, with Chief Operating Officer Tom Nelson calling the claim "inaccurate."

Istook said the industry groups also are "playing with fire," since they're dealing with other organizations and officials that ultimately want them "out of business."

The tension between the traditional forces for health care reform and the traditional forces against it flared most recently between Democrats and the insurance industry.

After coming to the table on health care talks earlier in the year, the insurance industry has been vilified by congressional Democrats and the administration in recent weeks. The Department of Health and Human Services just issued a report titled: "Coverage Denied: How the Current Health Insurance System Leaves Millions Behind."

Obama, though, insists he's not trying to pave the way toward a single-payer system -- one in which the insurance companies are mostly taken out of the picture -- despite past statements in favor of such a setup.

America's Health Insurance Plans is now conducting its own ad campaign advocating health care reform, but it is strongly opposed to the kind of public option that Democrats are calling for. A public option could significantly cut into insurance company revenue even if an individual mandate is part of the legislation.

Meanwhile, the groups in Healthy Economy Now have used some questionable tactics in pushing their agenda.

The New York Times reported last week that PhRMA struck a behind-the-scenes deal with the White House in which the administration would ensure nobody squeezes extra money out of the drugmakers in exchange for $80 billion in cost savings over the next decade. A PhRMA executive later walked that back in an interview with the Huffington Post.

Another unlikely alliance came with PhRMA and Families USA banding together to launch the sequel last month to the "Harry and Louise" ads that helped derail health care reform under the Clinton administration.

This time, though, the Harry and Louise actors, whose full names are Louise Caire Clark and Harry Johnson, are appearing in a multimillion-dollar ad campaign in support of health care reform.

AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach said the scattered alliances stem from a desire to reach a mutually beneficial package and an acknowledgment that the status quo is not sustainable.

"You didn't see this type of collaboration 15 years ago. Never before have we had hospitals and doctors and employers and labor unions and health plans all coming together in support of health care reform," he said.

Despite the climate of advocacy for health care reform, several groups have lined up against the plans, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Jury Finds Nursing Home Guilty of Neglect

KENT, Wash., July 23 /PRNewswire/ -- A King County Superior Court jury awarded the estate of a Renton woman more than $1.8 million yesterday for a medical center's failure to alert her physician of a critical complication that developed after routine back surgery.

Ellen Sandbo went to Valley Medical Center on January 31, 2006 for a routine procedure to relieve lower-back pain. Sandbo showed immediate improvement after the late-morning operation, standing and walking across her hospital room that evening. According to court testimony, though, Sandbo - a former nurse for more than 50 years - began experiencing severe pain in her legs later that evening, and repeatedly asked the nurse to call her doctor.

The hospital's nursing staff did not alert Dr. Thompson that Ellen was in trouble, depriving him of the opportunity to help Ellen," Gellatly noted. Thompson said in court testimony that he asked the nurse why he wasn't called at the onset of Sandbo's pain and the nurse admitted the error, saying "I should have called" -- a statement the nurse later denied making.

Sandbo spent the next three months in a skilled nursing facility before being sent to an adult family home, and then died on April 29, 2009 from what her family believes were complications of her paralysis. "They just stonewalled us at every turn, showing no concern for my mother or her situation," said Sandbo's son. "They dismissed her as an old lady with exaggerated complaints, but the jury told the hospital that the elderly deserves the same level of care as everyone else."

"She was not just a little old lady with exaggerated complaints, and the hospital should have taken care of her," said Gellatly. "We hope this will send a message that the elderly should get the same level of care."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Medford CNA charged in Epoch Abuse of Elder

Ahead of yesterday’s (8-14-09) shocking charges of elder abuse in Quincy, a Medford nursing assistant was charged Thursday with punching and kicking an 83-year-old Alzheimer’s patient entrusted to her care at a senior center in September 2008, according to the attorney general’s office.

Marie Michael, 54, a certified nursing assistant of Medford pleaded not guilty to charges of elder abuse during her employment at EPOCH Senior Healthcare of Melrose.

The assault was witnessed by the 83-year-old patient’s roommate, prosecutors said.

Hours after Michael’s arraignment, Kara A. Murphy, 23, was arrested in Quincy in the alleged assault of several women in her care at the Atrium at Faxon Woods.

The charges highlight the prevalent problem of elder abuse, which experts say is little more than “bullying” and “power control” over the patients.

Elise Beaulieu, an expert on elder abuse at Boston University’s Institute for Geriatric Social Work called the alleged abuse “tragic.”

She said institutional abuse “betrays the trust families (place in nursing homes) to care for their loved ones. These are horrible breaches of trust,” she said.


see article

Quincy Nurse Aid arrested for 'Abuse" Rampage

8-15-09 Quincy MA.
The Boston Herald under headlines "Nurse Wretched" describes elder abuse alleged against a CNA in a Quincy assisted living facility, the Atrium at Faxon Woods in Quincy, Massachusetts.

The article states: "A young nursing assistant is accused of turning an upscale Quincy assisted-living home into a house of horror after she allegedly slapped and bounced on elderly Alzheimer’s patients in a sadistic barrage police say left the defenseless victims quaking in terror.

Kara A. Murphy, 23, of Quincy is under house arrest after pleading not guilty yesterday to seven counts of assault and battery on a person over 60.

The vicious beatings were allegedly unleased on four elderly women last Saturday during Murphy’s 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift at the Atrium at Faxon Woods in Quincy, according to a police report. The Atrium is a toney assisted-living facility with 60 residents.

In one alleged attack, Murphy - a certified nursing assistant since June 2004 - reportedly grabbed an 89-year-old woman by the jaw during a bowel movement and forced her onto a toilet. “I should make her eat it,” Murphy allegedly told a co-worker.

In another incident, Murphy allegedly bounced up and down on the lap of a wheelchair-bound, 96-year-old woman. “Get off me, get off,” the victim cried, according to the report.

In yet another incident, Murphy allegedly threw a 92-year-old woman onto a wheelchair, slapped her and backhanded her forehead, police said. “Don’t hit me,” the woman pleaded, according to police.

Later on the same day, police said Murphy was assisting a 79-year-old woman in a public bathroom and called to a co-worker for help. When the co-worker went inside, she saw the woman “upset, redfaced and crying,” the police report states. The woman hit Murphy in the shoulder and “then in retaliation, Murphy hit (her) in the shoulder,” the report said.

Murphy was arrested at her home Thursday night after a co-worker alerted police.

The co-worker described Murphy to police as “angry” and said she often hurls expletives at Faxon Woods residents.

Murphy faces 21 years in prison and $7,000 in fines if found guilty.

At Murphy’s home, her aunt, Loretta Palmacci, said, “She’s been a very kind and caring person. I don’t know what happened. Sometimes she would come home very tense. You can imagine all the different things that go on with Alzheimer’s. She could have been abused . . . ”

In a cruel twist, the Atrium staff told police that the victims are unlikely to remember the alleged abuse, given their conditions. “The victims in these types of cases are among the most vulnerable,” said Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating, who’s prosecuting the case."

Teri Marinko, a spokeswoman for Faxon Woods owner Benchmark Assisted Living in Wellesley, said Murphy has been fired. Marinko said the facility conducted a state-mandated background check on her prior to hiring her and found no complaints..."

Attorney Bernard Hamill also of Quincy recently successfully litigated several cases against Kindred Nursing Facility for elder abuse involving a CNA hitting and verbally abusing helpless Alzheimer patients. Hamill said " Just because the victim has an impaired memory does NOT mean there is no damage to the victims. Often they become fearful, angry or withdrawn after this type of physical abuse. And it is clearly illegal in our country to hit any resident in these settings of extreme vulnerability". See those accounts here.

In a separate but similar story, a Medford CNA was also accused of abuse at Epoch Healthcare. Attorney Hamill is also currently litigating a claim in Superior Court against Epoch for Nursing Home Neglect of a patient.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

University of Michigan School of Health Study: Nursing Homes Chains hurt patient care

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Standard marketing and strategic planning practices can hurt patient care throughout a nursing home chain, but only if too much emphasis is placed on such administrative standards to the detriment of clinical and facility standards, a new study indicates.

Research from the University of Michigan School of Public Health suggests that one of the strengths of a nursing home chain—the ability to standardize and perfect administrative practices throughout the chain—also can hurt patient care.

"Consumers need ways to identify what is a good or bad nursing home when making choices about where to place a loved one," said Jane Banaszak-Holl, corresponding author on the study. "Right now, we have an easier time distinguishing the quality in McDonalds versus Boston Market than we have distinguishing how, for example, a Sun-owned nursing home differs from a Beverly Enterprises nursing home."

Chain-owned nursing homes are the predominant type of institutional care provided in the United States, yet studies have shown that the patient care received in chain-owned nursing homes is generally not on par with the patient care received in nonprofit and singly-owned nursing homes. However, little is known about their management structure other than the fact that chain ownership has a significant impact on patient care. This study examines one aspect of management structure.

"If they (chain-owned nursing homes) are really not as good, we need to think about how to improve them," said Akiko Kamimura, a U-M doctoral student in Health Management and Policy at the School of Public Health, and first author of the study.

The study suggests that corporate standardization of clinical and facility processes improved resident care, but that corporate standardization of administrative processes hurt patient care.
..... "What is problematic is a shift away from community values and local needs, and an overly strong emphasis on administrative rather than clinical outcomes."

See full story

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NY nurse aide convicted of elder abuse

In a horrible report detailing an incident of nursing home abuse, a North Salem, New York nursing home aide tied an 83-year-old woman to her wheelchair with a bed sheet, deposited her in a common room, shut the lights out, and napped. The certified nurse’s aide napped for about one hour while the woman was tied to the chair.
According to LoHud, the incident took place at the Waterview Hills Rehabilitation and Nursing Home. Pierre Obas, 72, pleaded guilty to violating public health law involving the abuse, neglect, and mistreatment of a person, said LoHud, a misdemeanor offense. Obas was required to surrender his certification and is not allowed to work in a nurse’s aide capacity for a year from his April 27 sentencing said LoHud, citing court records.
see full article

Monday, August 10, 2009

How to Find a Safe Nursing Home for Loved Ones

1. The more time you have to choose the better
Try to anticipate when your loved one may need nursing care rather than limiting your choices by last minute emergencies.

2. Let your loved one participate in choosing the home.
If your loved one is able emotionally and mentally to review his/her choices it always is better.

3. Visit the home several times
See how many residents are up and dressed after breakfast. Does the facility smell? Are most of the people dressed, engaged in activities? Or do they collectively sit in a holding area for a large part of the day in nightgowns and pajama's? How many over 100 year patients are there - that could be a sign of good care. What is the average length of stay for a resident....

4. Investigate The Nursing Home
The left hand links column in this site has multiple links where you can look up your nursing homes. Pro Publica and Nursing Home Compare has a website to compare nursing homes.
State Departments of Public Health have public information on the quality of care provided.

5. Try the suit on before you buy it
Have a meal in their dining hall. Talk to CNA's, Nurses and residents about how they like the Home. Ask about staffing levels and turnover. Watch the communication and treatment between aides and residents: are they friendly and relaxed or rushed and put out.

6. Proximity to family
Frequent visits from family are crucial and trump many other factors. If the home is near family you will have more visits.

Bernard Hamill

Chicago Nursing Home : no additional staff needed

Alden Management Services did not pledge to hire additional staff in a meeting this month with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Substantial differences in the quality of care residents received at the black homes compared with white facilities has been alleged.

The company did not commit to hiring additional staff for the majority-black facilities, noting that the staffing levels are adequate for the type of care that is needed at those homes.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

New Hampshire is investigating nursing home on allegations of neglect

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services is investigating the Elms nursing home on allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Manchester, NH– An elderly mans death brings suspicions of nursing home abuse and neglect at The Elms nursing home. An investigation has been launched after concerns were raised by the staff at an area hospital when they noticed poorly treated wounds on the man’s legs, as reported by

The 87-year-old unidentified man died Friday, July 17, 2009 at The Elm’s nursing home. The elderly man was admitted to the Southern New Hampshire Medical Center for unknown medical reasons when the hospital staff became suspicious. The man had serious sores on his legs, which had been wrapped in ace bandages with the skin growing over the bandages. When hospital staff removed the bandages and found the nursing home personnel did not properly treat the sores. Upon further inspection, medical professionals found the man’s catheter was blocked with blood and his genitals were severely swollen. In addition, the elderly man also suffered from dementia and diabetes, and had cuts and an abrasion all over his body, and was unresponsive to nurses and doctors. Doctors and area police alerted the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Health and Human Services Elder Services Division (HHS) of the alleged nursing home abuse on June 28. A full investigation of the case will determine if any legal action will be taken.

See article

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Workers take pictures of naked elders in Nursing Home

GALAX, Va. -- Two workers at the Waddell Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Galax have been charged with taking naked photographs of patients without their consent.

The Galax Police Department began the investigation after receiving a tip. As a result of the investigation, police arrested Sharon Ann Walker, 29, and Livia Dawn Crisan, 25. Crisan's age was originally listed as 35. Police corrected her age Friday afternoon.

Police said the incidents happened between April 1 and July 15. Wooddell said the two had snapped the pictures using their cell phones.

see full article

NY man serves jail time in nursing home abuse case

A former certified nurse assistant at a Tupper Lake nursing home has been sentenced to time served after pleading guilty to abusing an elderly patient.
John Ette, 42, of Tupper Lake, was arrested in May for physically abusing an 88-year-old resident of Adirondack Medical Center's Mercy nursing home on Oct. 20, 2008.
The state Attorney General's Office said Ette admitted to investigators that he struck the bedridden woman in the face, grabbed her arm and pushed her into her wheelchair. She suffered severe facial bruising and a broken collarbone.
Nursing home staff noticed the woman's injuries the next morning and notified AMC officials, who reported the incident to the state Department of Health. The matter was then referred to the Attorney General's Office for investigation.
Ette was initially charged with endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person in the second degree, a felony; endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, a misdemeanor; and willful violation of health laws, a misdemeanor. He could have faced up to four years behind bars if convicted on all counts.
You will note from an earlier post that a Massachusetts CNA was undicted for criminal charges charging her with abuse of nursing home residents.

see full article

Elder Abuse Death Rate 6X Higher!

A recent study reveals some disturbing data on senior care and elder abuse. According to the research conducted at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, the risk of death increases significantly—nearly six-fold—when seniors do not care for themselves, reported Medicine Net. The findings appear in the August 5th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Also, when seniors are abused—emotionally, physically, financially, sexually, or through neglect—the risk of death increases by more than double, according the study, said Medicine Net. “Elder self-neglect and abuse really have severe consequences,” said Dr. XinQi Dong, study author and associate professor of medicine at Rush, quoted Medicine Net. According to Dr. Dong, the research indicated that “it’s not just the cognitively impaired,” citing patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, affected by these trends, “Even more capable seniors face a higher risk of premature death from self-neglect,” he said, reported Medicine Net.
According to Dr. Thomas Gill, who authored an accompanying editorial in JAMA, self-neglect in the senior demographic is the most common reason a patient is referred to adult protective services, said Medicine Net.
We’ve been following the widespread issue of nursing home abuse for some time. Last year, the former Bush administration finally published the names of 131 of the nation’s worst nursing homes. And, in a harrowing example of the widespread problem of elder abuse and negligence, last year, the family of a deceased Norwich, Connecticut man filed what is believed to be the first wrongful death lawsuit against officials at Connecticut’s largest nursing home chain: Haven Healthcare. The suit claimed that misappropriation of Haven funds by Chief Executive Officer Raymond Termini contributed to “deplorable conditions.”
In that case, the family also sought permission to sue the state departments of public health and social services, and Nancy Shaffer, the state’s long-term care ombudsman, for failing to investigate and act on complaints lodged by the family.
Self-neglect, or one’s inability to care for oneself, involves not providing sufficient “food, water, clothing, shelter … necessary medications, and not following basic hygiene practices,” said Medicine Net, citing both the study and the accompanying editorial.
The team looked at 9,318 Chicago residents over the age of 65, who were participating in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, said Medicine Net, which said the review looked at the period from 1993 to 2005; social service agencies reported self-neglect on 1,544 participants and abuse on 113. In seven years, over 4,300 participants died.
Earlier this year we wrote that two nursing homes in the Rochester, New York area were embroiled in an abuse scandal in which one certified nurse aide at the Kirkhaven Nursing Home in Rochester, and another who worked at the Edna Tina Wilson Living Center in Greece, NY, were arrested as part of a state-wide probe into nursing abuse and healthcare fraud.
Unfortunately nursing home abuse is a common crime. The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates at least one in 20 nursing home patients has been the victim of negligence and or abuse, though it concedes that the number is probably higher. According to the National Center’s study, 57 percent of nurses’ aides in long-term care facilities admitted to having witnessed, and even participating in, acts of negligence and abuse. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that nursing home neglect played role in the deaths of nearly 14,000 nursing home patients between 1999 and 2002.

see article