Friday, February 22, 2013

Judge rejects mistrial claim in Sacramento elder abuse trial

The judge rejected an effort Friday by lawyers for Emeritus Corp. to call off the Sacramento civil trial where the survivors of an Alzheimer's resident are suing the assisted living giant for elder abuse and wrongful death.
Emeritus attorneys wanted a mistrial on grounds that plaintiffs lawyer Lesley Ann Clement improperly contacted several current and former company employees – and "coerced" one of them – to influence their testimony.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Judy Holzer Hersher turned back the motion, as well as an Emeritus attempt to disqualify Clement from the case, in a tentative ruling she released Thursday.
Hersher confirmed her ruling Friday, telling the Emeritus lawyers who continued to push for the mistrial and the disqualification, "I frankly have not heard anything today that changes my mind about these circumstances."
Outside court, the attorney who represented Clement called the Emeritus action "frivolous" and "a smear campaign." The attorney, Jim Murphy, said the defense action filed Jan. 25 suggests they believe they are losing the trial.
"Desperate times require desperate measures, and this was a desperate measure by a desperate party – I think they can read the tea leaves," said Murphy, a San Francisco lawyer who specializes in representing embattled attorneys and judges. "The testimony is not going well for them.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Massachusetts Nursing Homes Cited for Violations

Over the past three years, Massachusetts nursing home inspectors acting on behalf of the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services found 27 elder care deficiencies at a long-term care facility in Tewksbury and penalized the home with $13,000 in fines. Eight miles away, a nursing home in Wilmington was found to have six deficiencies and fined $117,160, the highest civil monetary penalty CMS levied in Massachusetts during that time period. The difference in the strictness of sanctions is the severity of the deficiencies. Woodbriar of Wilmington was penalized when a patient died of drug toxicity after a medication dosage error. At Blaire House of Tewksbury, none of the deficiencies was categorized as serious. CMS classifies deficiencies as serious if they harm a patient or put a patient in immediate jeopardy. Nursing homes with serious deficiencies are fined, but a review of inspection surveys in a database created by investigative journalism group ProPublica shows that less severe citations can pile up without penalties being imposed. In Greater Lowell, CMS has reports for the 27 facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid, putting them under the agency's jurisdiction. Of these 27 nursing homes, four have been found deficiency-free: Life Care Center of Acton, Littleton's Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley, Seven Hills Pediatric Center in Groton, and Lowell's D'Youville Transitional Care, the short-term rehabilitation facility affiliated with D'Youville Senior Care.

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by Bernard Hamill 
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Nursing Home Abuse

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Union battling nursing homes places Globe ad highlighting HealthBridge’s antipsychotic track record

Union battling nursing homes places Globe ad highlighting HealthBridge’s antipsychotic track record:

In bold, bright red lettering, a full-page advertisement in December 2012 Boston Globe warns readers that elderly nursing homes residents in three HealthBridge Management-owned Massachusetts facilities are given antipsychotic drugs at rates much higher than the national average -- despite federal warnings about lethal side effects from the powerful sedatives.
The ad was paid for by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a union that represents thousands of workers in five states, including Massachusetts, and is affiliated with a labor group battling Healthbridge in six Connecticut nursing homes.
The ads detail the high rates of antipsychotic use at Holyoke Rehabilitation Center; Lowell Health Care Center; and Newton Health Care Center -- measured by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the federal agency that regulates nursing homes.
The latest CMS data show that roughly 75 percent of residents at Holyoke Rehabilitation Center who do not have a medical condition that would warrant use of antipsychotics are receiving the drugs. At the Lowell facility, the rate is 64 percent, and in Newton it is 38 %
Earlier in 2012, a Globe series found that antipsychotic overuse is prevalent in many of the nation’s 15,600 nursing homes, and that rates are considerably higher in Massachusetts.

by Bernard Hamill