Saturday, April 14, 2012

Nursing Home Layoffs Can affect Care

Boston Massachusetts nursing home abuse attorney Bernard J. Hamill says families need know that there is a correlation between staffing levels and the adequacy of elder care in nursing homes. It is common sense and it is backed by state and federal regulations. The challenge is in interpreting data provided by nursing homes to the government regarding staffing adequacy to insure nursing home residents receive the high quality of care mandated by federal and state regulations. Federal regulations state that staffing must be sufficient to provide the “highest” level of care. 42 CFR Sec.483.30 states: “The facility must have sufficient nursing staff to provide nursing and related services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident, as
determined by resident assessments and individual plans of care.”
Each nursing home reports its staffing hours to its state survey agency. These staffing hours are from a two-week period just before the state inspection. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) gets nursing home staffing data from the states. Staffing hours per resident per day is the average amount of hours worked divided by the total number of residents. It doesn't necessarily show the number of nursing staff present at any given time, or reflect the amount of care given to any one resident. Attorney Hamill notes an important warning about staffing levels given by Medicare: “These staffing numbers are based on information reported by the nursing home. Currently there is no system to fully verify the accuracy of the staffing data that nursing homes report. Because of this limitation and because staffing levels may have changes since the last inspection, you should be cautious when interpreting the data.”
Attorney Hamill says that to determine staffing sufficiency, you should always look at the state inspection results, particularly any quality of life or quality of care deficiencies. The best way to interpret the staffing levels is use a results driven analysis. Go see for yourself what the quality of care is. No matter what the staffing statistics say, if a loved one is sitting in unclean clothing or poorly hydrated or neglected, then the care is inadequate. If the care is inadequate, then according to federal definitions the cause could easily be understaffing of sufficient well trained aides.
New Study Shows Nursing Homes Increasing Layoffs

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mandatory Binding Arbitration Article From CJ&D

According to the Center for Justice in Democracy Factsheet on Arbitration, "Mandatory binding arbitration is a process by which parties “agree” (although consumers rarely know they have “agreed”) to have a third party arbitrator (single arbitrator or a panel), instead of a jury or judge, resolve a dispute. Arbitrators are not required to have any legal training and they need not follow the law. Court rules of evidence and procedure, which tend to neutralize imbalances between the parties in court, do not apply. There is limited discovery, making it is much more difficult for individuals to have access to important documents that may help their claim. Arbitration proceedings are secretive. There is no right to public access. Arbitrators do not write or publish detailed written opinions, so no legal precedent or rules for future conduct can be established. Their decisions are still enforceable with the full weight of the law even though they may be legally incorrect. This is especially disturbing since these decisions are binding so victims have virtually no right to appeal an arbitrator’s ruling."
Fact Sheet: Mandatory Binding Arbitration -- A Corporate End Run Around the Civil Justice System

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Drug Deaths Rising in Nursing Homes

In a nursing home on the southern end of California's Central Valley, three elderly dementia patients died during 2007. Normally, that would not make the headlines. But these patients died after being given powerful antipsychotic drugs to control elders behavior--despite warnings the drugs increase the risk of death in elders with dementia.
Mae Brinkley, 91, Joseph Shepter, 76, and Alexander Zaiko, 85, died at the Kern Valley Hospital, a 74-bed skilled nursing facility in rural Lake Isabella, about 30 miles northeast of Bakersfield. Their cases came to light after a long-term care ombudsman reported to the state Department of Public Health that a patient had been held down and forcibly injected with an antipsychotic medication.
Investigators later found the nursing facility had given 22 patients, some with Alzheimer's disease--the most common form of dementia--high doses of antipsychotic medications to control them for the convenience of staff, according to court papers and the Center for Medicare Advocacy.
Now facing criminal charges are Hoshan Pormir, MD, the patients’ physician, Gwen Hughes, director of nursing, and Debbi C. Hayes, a pharmacist. The charges include three counts of elder abuse resulting in death, five counts of nonfatal elder abuse and two counts of assault with deadly weapons--the psychotropic medications Zyprexa and Risperdal, according to the state's criminal complaint.

Abuse of Mind-Altering Drugs Rising in Eldercare Facilities - New America Media

Monday, April 09, 2012

Nurse at Southern Cross home did not call doctor and Joyce Wordingham died, court hears

SYSTEMATIC failures at a Tyneside nursing home saw a pensioner in desperate need of medical attention left to die. Dementia sufferer Joyce Wordingham had become so ill it should have been obvious to staff at her nursing home that she needed to see a doctor. However, Daphne Joseph was the only nurse looking after 29 residents at St Michael’s View, in South Shields, and she had not been trained properly amid a “culture of neglect”. So, instead of calling an ambulance, Joseph simply sponged Mrs Wordingham and made a note she looked frail and ill. The next morning, just two weeks after moving into the home, she was found dead in her bed after Joseph handed over to the day shift. Joseph pleaded guilty to neglecting a person who lacked mental capacity but a judge suspended her prison sentence after being told of the conditions she was working in at the Southern Cross-owned home. Mr Justice Coulson, at Newcastle Crown Court, said: “Your neglect was part of an endemic culture of neglect. You had not been trained properly and that failure, which was not your responsibility, was directly relevant to the tragedy that happened.” The judge said the failings included management and leadership