Articles Posted in Nursing Home Neglect

The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that approximately one million seniors are abused or neglected across the United States each year. Sadly, experts allegedly believe such abuse is highly underreported. Too often, abuse by a caregiver may be simply overlooked. A number of warning signs should raise red flags for the families of individuals who reside in nursing homes in Illinois and across the nation.

First, family members of elderly and disabled skilled nursing facility residents should keep an eye out for any marked physical or emotional changes in their loved one. It is important to take note if a friend or relative becomes withdrawn or stops taking part in activities he or she previously enjoyed. Fear, unexplained weight loss, and symptoms of depression may also become apparent. If a loved one is being physically abused or neglected, he or she may suffer broken bones, bedsores, and unexplained bruises. Although some of these symptoms may simply be a normal part of the aging or disease process, it is always a good idea to watch how nursing home staff interacts with your family member during unexpected visits.

Another potential red flag occurs when facility staff regularly cannot or refuses to answer any questions about a loved one’s care. In addition, a refusal or lack of interest on the part of a skilled nursing facility to address any health issues such as unexplained weight loss may be cause for concern regarding the quality of care your family member is receiving.

Sometimes, staff at a nursing home will undoubtedly be busy or in the midst of a stressful event. If workers at a facility always seem frantic or have a bad attitude, however, it is important to take note. In addition, chronic understaffing and high turnover rates can also signal underlying problems at a skilled nursing facility. Consistent and quality staffing is an integral part of providing appropriate resident care.

Dehydration is reportedly the most common symptom of nursing home neglect across the country. Unfortunately, insufficient staffing levels can often lead to missed meals. Similarly, complaints regarding the amount of time it takes for employees to respond to your relative’s needs should also be taken seriously and investigated. If a nursing home is not endeavoring to improve the quality of care provided, families should definitely take note.

Even if your loved one is experiencing cognitive issues such as dementia, distress or discomfort around a particular facility employee should not be taken lightly. Such situations may be the result of neglect or other mistreatment. Do not hesitate to trust your gut if you feel uneasy regarding the care your loved one is receiving.

Mistreatment at skilled nursing facilities is not always easy to identify. Sadly, when an elderly or disabled nursing home patient is suffering neglect or abuse at the hands of a caregiver, he or she may become depressed, experience a change in appetite, and complain to family members about any mistreatment. Any suspected cases of abuse or neglect by a nursing home worker should be taken seriously and reported immediately. You should contact a skilled nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to discuss your concerns.
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According to a survey conducted by the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the influenza vaccine administered this season was only effective in nine percent of cases for individuals age 65 or older. For people under age 65, the vaccine reportedly reduced sickness by nearly two-thirds. As part of the study, more than 2,500 individuals were surveyed by the United States Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network between December 3, 2012 and January 19, 2013. Researchers reportedly found that the rate of laboratory-confirmed influenza-related hospitalizations and deaths in the elderly reached as high as 116 per 100,000 people. The flu vaccine allegedly offered a similar level of effectiveness to European seniors.

This season, the influenza vaccine that was distributed across the nation included protection against three strains of the virus: H3N2, Influenza B, and H1N1. Although the vaccine was allegedly 67 percent effective against the Influenza B strain in seniors, it was only nine percent effective against the H3N2 strain. H1N1 purportedly failed to be detected in the overall population at any sort of significant rate. According to researchers, the H3N2 strain of the flu virus was the most commonly transmitted this season. The vaccine’s overall effectiveness for children over six months of age was allegedly 56 percent. For some age groups, it supposedly prevented the flu in 58 percent of cases.

The reportedly statistically insignificant rate of H3N2 flu prevention in American seniors could be why the season’s rate of flu-related hospitalization and death was purportedly one of the highest on record. Joe Bresee, Chief of Epidemiology and Prevention in the CDC’s Influenza Division, said although the current flu season was moderately severe for most Americans, it was much more severe for the elderly population. Bresee stated the effectiveness of most vaccines decreases with age. Still, researchers are purportedly puzzled as to why the vaccine failed to work for seniors in such large numbers this year.

CDC researchers cautioned against reading too much into the survey results as chronic medical conditions could have played a role in higher illness and mortality rates for the elderly. In addition, only those individuals who sought medical treatment were surveyed. The CDC reportedly plans to perform further influenza vaccine effectiveness research in the future. Bresee stated anyone who works with adults over age 65 on a regular basis should be sure to obtain an influenza vaccine as a precautionary measure.

Since nursing home residents normally live in close proximity to one another, communicable diseases like the flu can spread quickly. Proper sanitation measures are vital to ensure the health of skilled nursing facility patients. Although direct care workers at Illinois nursing homes are required to take simple precautionary measures designed to control the spread of disease, many allegedly fail to do so. Unfortunately, this can have tragic consequences for elderly or frail facility residents. If your friend or family member died after he or she contracted a preventable disease at a nursing home in Illinois, you should contact a quality nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer.
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A study recently published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology claims that a number of strains of community-assisted methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are currently present in nursing homes across the country. MRSA is a bacteria that has become resistant to the antibiotics normally used to combat staph infections. The bacteria are often found in hospitals and other medical care facilities where invasive procedures are performed. Community-assisted MRSA is a fairly new variation of the bacteria and can affect otherwise healthy individuals.

As part of the study, researchers from the University of California, Irvine, reportedly analyzed data regarding community-acquired MRSA that was collected from nursing homes in Orange County, California between October 2008 and May 2011. Researchers took samples from 200 nursing home patients who were residing in one of 22 different facilities. Half of the samples were taken from individuals who were recently admitted to a nursing home. Researchers allegedly found that 25 percent of the residents who tested positive for MRSA actually had community-acquired MRSA. In addition, the bacteria were found at 20 of the 22 skilled nursing facilities that participated in the study.

Study authors claim community-assisted MRSA infections are just as dangerous as MRSA infections acquired in a hospital setting. According to lead researcher Courtney Reynolds-Murphy, more effective and targeted measures should be taken in nursing homes and other facilities in order to prevent and combat the spread of the potentially deadly bacteria. In addition, researchers stated the prevalence of such bacteria is likely to increase in hospitals throughout the nation because ill nursing home residents are often admitted directly to such institutions. Reynolds-Murphy said hospital rates of community-acquired MRSA have steadily increased since the strain of bacteria was initially discovered.

The study authors reportedly found that community-acquired MRSA rates were highest in skilled nursing facilities that served a greater percentage of patients under the age of 65. Researchers purportedly believe the disparity was caused by the fact that senior citizens are generally less mobile than their younger counterparts. Younger residents are allegedly more likely to interact with others which may increase exposure across a nursing home or other population.

Because residents normally live in close proximity, bacteria like community-assisted MRSA can be spread easily in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The use of effective sanitation measures is vital to maintain the health of skilled nursing facility patients. Although nursing home employees in Illinois are required by law to ensure simple precautionary measures designed to control the spread of illness are used, too many reportedly fail to do so. This can have a devastating impact on long-term care facility residents. If your friend or family member died after he or she contracted a preventable disease at a skilled nursing facility located in Illinois, you are advised to speak with a quality nursing home abuse and neglect attorney.
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A study conducted at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester claims more than one-fifth of nursing home residents across the nation are prescribed at least one anti-psychotic drug. A research letter recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association also alleges most of the anti-psychotic prescriptions written for skilled nursing facility patients are off-label, or not for an approved use. According to the letter, such drugs provide “marginal clinical benefits and serious adverse effects, including death,” for long-term care facility patients.

As part of the research study, Becky A. Briesacher, PhD and her colleagues analyzed prescription data for more than 1.4 million nursing home residents included in a database compiled by the long-term care pharmacy Omnicare between 2009 and 2010. Omnicare reportedly provides prescription medications to about half of all skilled nursing facility residents in the United States. Researchers found that about 22 percent of nursing home patients received at least one anti-psychotic drug. In addition, more than 68 percent of patients were administered one of three atypical anti-psychotic medications, quetiapine fumarate, risperidone, and olanzapine. Such drugs are classified primarily for use in individuals who suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Researchers also reportedly examined a subset of more than half a million nursing home residents who received at least 90 days of continuous medical observation. Patients given atypical anti-psychotic prescriptions were allegedly treated with the drugs for at least 70 days. Those who were administered conventional medications like haloperidol or chlorpromazine were purportedly only treated for 30 to 77 days. According to researchers, 92.5 percent of patients in the subset were prescribed more than one anti-psychotic drug.

The study purportedly found that anti-psychotics were most widely prescribed to nursing home residents living in South Central states. Patients residing in Western states were allegedly the least likely to receive an anti-psychotic medication. Researchers reportedly believe the wide variation between the two regions, 28.1 percent and 17.2 percent respectively, demonstrates that the medications are not being prescribed to skilled nursing facility patients using an evidence-based approach.

In 2005, the nation’s Food and Drug Administration issued a black box warning which stated the use of anti-psychotic medications in patients who suffer from a dementia disorder is associated with an increased mortality rate. In some nursing homes, residents reportedly receive such medications because employees have difficulty dealing with the behavioral symptoms that can accompany dementia. No matter what behavior issues exist, better alternatives should be utilized.

The abuse or neglect of skilled nursing facility residents is not always easy to identify. It is unacceptable for a nursing home patient to receive an inappropriate or potentially dangerous prescription drug in order to make caring for them easier on untrained or an insufficient number of employees. In general, the over-medication of residents is also a recipe for abuse. If you believe someone you love was the victim of skilled nursing facility abuse or neglect, you should discuss your concerns with a committed lawyer.
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The current influenza outbreak is reportedly the worst the nation has seen in more than a decade. Earlier this month, the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared that influenza has officially spread to epidemic levels. CDC data claims that 41 states are currently experiencing widespread influenza activity. During the first half of January, an estimated 128 million flu vaccines were reportedly administered to individuals throughout the country. That number purportedly accounts for about 95 percent of the influenza vaccines that were expected to be produced fot the U.S. over the course of the entire year. The CDC currently recommends that all health care personnel obtain a flu vaccine in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.

This flu season, a record number of cases were allegedly reported in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities located in Illinois and throughout the nation. Because the flu is more likely to prove fatal to the elderly and individuals with underlying health conditions, it is especially important for skilled nursing facility workers to remain vigilant with regard to preventing the spread of illness. Nursing homes are encouraged to provide disease prevention education materials to anyone who lives in, works at, or visits their facility. In addition, signs should be posted at each entrance to warn others regarding any potential flu or other outbreaks. Whenever possible, masks should be worn by anyone with a cough, facility employees should be encouraged to stay home when feeling ill, and the Illinois Health Department should be notified regarding any suspected cases of the flu. As always, frequent hand washing is vital.

According to Michelle Stober, a registered nurse with Pathway Health Services, it is important for skilled nursing facilities to properly prepare, prevent, and respond to any influenza or other outbreak. Stober said all nursing homes should develop a comprehensive communication plan with not only state authorities, but also direct care and other employees, and facility visitors such as volunteers and the family members of residents. Stober reportedly believes such a plan may help everyone work together to keep the elderly and disabled safe from the flu virus.

Because long-term care facility residents generally live in close proximity to one another, communicable diseases like the flu are often spread easily. Appropriate sanitation measures are necessary to ensure the health of nursing home patients. Despite that skilled nursing facility workers in Illinois are required to take simple precautionary measures designed to control the spread of disease, many reportedly fail to do so. Regrettably, this can have a disastrous impact on facility residents. If your friend or loved one died after he or she contracted a preventable disease at an Illinois nursing home, you should speak to a skilled nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer.
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For the first time, the United States government has released reports regarding issues uncovered by nursing home investigators across the nation without redactions. The non-profit organization ProPublica reportedly obtained the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports through a Freedom of Information Act request. In order to protect the privacy of nursing home residents, patient and employee names are not included in the reports.

Previously, much of the information included in the unredacted Medicare and Medicaid reports was made available on ProPublica’s Nursing Home Inspect website. The tool reportedly allows website visitors to browse the more than 267,000 nursing home deficiencies documented across the nation over the last three years by keyword. Although the searchable Nursing Home Inspect tool currently only includes redacted care facility inspection reports, the complete and unredacted reports are now also available online. The unedited Medicare and Medicaid Services reports are grouped by region and may be downloaded from ProPublica’s website.

The additional information will reportedly make the reports more useful to those who seek to learn more about the quality of care provided at a particular skilled nursing facility. For example, the unredacted reports now include any diagnosed medical conditions, all pharmaceutical drugs administered to residents, and patient ages. Such information is useful because it allows consumers to see whether residents receive appropriate prescription medications based on their medical diagnosis. For example, patients who suffer from a dementia disorder should not be administered an anti-psychotic medication because the drugs reportedly do little to manage their behavior. The nation’s Food and Drug Administration also issued a warning about prescribing anti-psychotics to such patients because their use is purportedly associated with an increased mortality rate.

Most skilled nursing facilities in Illinois are certified to receive funds from Medicaid and Medicare programs. A certified nursing home is required to adhere to both state and federal regulations. Although the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act does not require long-term care facilities operating in the state to be certified, it requires all nursing homes to be licensed. The Illinois Department of Public Health regulates standards of care for all licensed nursing homes.
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Increasingly, patients in the United States are relying on private medical care providers. Over the past several decades, more and more nursing homes, hospitals, and other health service institutions have purportedly privatized. Unfortunately, the profit status of a health care facility often affects the care provided to patients. For example, for-profit hospitals are reportedly less likely to offer necessary medical services that do not create large profits. Although this is generally good news for shareholders, it can spell disaster for patients. According to one study, patient deaths increase sharply when non-profit hospitals become privatized. Staffing levels also allegedly tend to decline.

In the U.S., private companies purportedly provide more essential social services than in any other industrialized nation. Some believe this has resulted in lower quality care for our nation’s sick and elderly. Instead of lowering costs and eliminating waste, privatized nursing homes and hospitals reportedly now provide physicians and other direct care staff with financial incentives to maximize profits without incurring any additional expense. Sadly, this can have an effect on patient care. According to a study regarding Medicare spending, no taxpayer money was saved when private Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) were used. Additionally, another study claims the cost of Medicaid increased by about 12 percent without any increase in quality when recipients began utilizing HMOs.

A Wisconsin study found that non-profit nursing homes tend to administer fewer sedatives than for-profit enterprises. In some areas, residents at for-profit nursing facilities allegedly receive an average of four times more tranquilizers than those living in a government or non-profit managed facility. Economist Burton Weisbrod believes this disparity has arisen because such drugs are cheap and tend to incapacitate patients who may otherwise require additional care or stimulation. He said programs designed to keep skilled nursing facility residents engaged cost money. In addition, so does the staff required to administer the programs.

Over-medicating nursing home residents or employing an inadequate number of direct care staff in an effort to increase a company’s bottom line is not acceptable. An inadequate number of well-trained nursing home employees is a common cause of abuse and neglect at skilled nursing facilities throughout Illinois and the country. Fortunately, the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act was established to increase the quality of care received by nursing home residents in our state. Pursuant to the law, all skilled nursing facilities in Illinois must provide at least 2.5 hours of direct care per day for each patient. Additionally, all nursing homes operating within the state must provide 3.8 hours of direct care staffing for every resident prior to January 1, 2014.
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A study recently published by the nation’s Department of Health and Human Services reportedly found that skilled nursing facilities throughout the nation overcharged the federal Medicare system about $1.5 billion in 2009. According to data compiled by Bloomberg News, approximately 30 percent of Medicare claims submitted by for-profit nursing homes were for patient treatments that were either unnecessary or never received. In contrast, only around 12 percent of such claims submitted by non-profit facilities were reportedly deemed improper. In 2010, a similar study found that for-profit nursing homes were twice as likely as non-profits to bill Medicare at the highest possible rate for residents with similar medical issues and needs.

A report released in 2012 by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC) claims that for-profit healthcare providers currently dominate the nation’s medical services industry. MEDPAC data suggests that about 33 percent of all nursing home revenues come from the federal Medicare program. An additional 50 percent is reportedly funded by Medicaid insurance for the poor. According to MEDPAC, for-profit skilled nursing facilities enjoy a 20 percent profit margin on all Medicare residents. In 2010, 78 percent of the approximately $105 billion in skilled nursing industry revenues were purportedly paid to for-profit homes.

The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, a nursing home trade group, claims that nursing homes employ in excess of $1.6 million Americans. Still, the nation’s 10 biggest for-profit skilled nursing facility companies allegedly employed nearly 40 percent fewer registered nurses than non-profit facilities between 2003 and 2008. In addition, the same companies also purportedly received almost 60 percent more deficiency citations following federal inspections. A spokesperson for the American Health Care Association, Greg Crist, stated for-profit nursing homes have increased the number of registered nurses employed since 2009. Crist also claims a number of initiatives designed to increase quality were put into place at many facilities last year.

The pressure to reduce personnel expenses and increase federal insurance payments is reportedly quite high at many for-profit skilled nursing facilities. University of California, Los Angeles Law Professor Jill Horwitz stated for-profit nursing homes are also more likely to push legal boundaries in order to pursue higher revenues. As a result, civil and criminal cases filed by federal prosecutors against nursing homes throughout the nation reportedly increased by about 60 percent between 2008 and 2012.

The bulk of Illinois skilled nursing facilities receive Medicare and Medicaid funds. This means they are considered certified nursing homes. All certified nursing homes throughout the state are required to adhere to both Illinois and federal laws and regulations. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act required skilled nursing facilities to increase staff numbers to 2.5 hours of direct care staffing for every skilled care resident by July 1, 2010. Additionally, the law mandates that all nursing home facilities in Illinois must provide 3.8 hours of direct care staffing for every patient by January 1, 2014.

Sadly, inadequate staffing levels are a common factor in nursing home abuse or neglect in Illinois and nationwide. Intentionally employing an insufficient number of healthcare workers in order to increase profits is a recipe for disaster. If you feel your friend or loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you are advised to discuss your concerns with a skilled lawyer.
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A 57-year-old resident of the Cobden Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Illinois is allegedly no longer allowed to walk and can barely speak. When the brain-injury victim entered the facility, however, he could reportedly walk with assistance and was undergoing speech therapy. According to reports, the man now spends his days slumped in a wheelchair. In addition, his speech therapy sessions allegedly ended not long after he became a resident of the facility. Sadly, the nursing home appears to be ill-equipped to properly care for the man.

According to federal Medicaid and Medicare patient data compiled by Bloomberg, the 57-year-old man is one of an estimated 244,000 individuals who are residing in nursing homes across the nation as a result of an unexpected brain-injury. More than four million people nationwide reportedly suffer from a long-term disability that was caused by a brain-injury. Although an injury to the brain may result from a motor vehicle crash, fall, stroke, assault, and a number of other events, victims are frequently left without access to the most effective specialized care and therapies. Many brain-injury victims are reportedly housed in nursing homes that were designed instead to care for an aging population.

Unfortunately, the bulk of Americans do not have health insurance that will pay for brain trauma rehabilitation facilities. Instead, those who suffer a severe and disabling injury to the brain often rely on public insurance that is paid for by the state and federal government. Although Medicaid will cover the cost of a nursing home, the program will only pay for a limited number of patients to enter rehabilitation centers. Unfortunately, a long waiting list currently exists for the 19,000 nationwide slots.

Although nursing homes can be the best option for some brain-injury patients, most reportedly need therapies that skilled nursing facilities rarely provide. Scott Schuster, President of Wingate Healthcare, oversees 18 nursing homes in two states. He said less than one in 10 skilled nursing facilities can properly care for brain-injury patients. To make matters worse, many nursing homes do not want to take on the care of patients who suffered a brain-injury. In fact, Wingate Healthcare recently closed a 125-bed Massachusetts facility that specialized in treating individuals who suffered a brain-injury due to the low rate of Medicaid compensation.

Abuse and neglect can result when patients enter nursing facilities that are not equipped to properly care for them. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act was established to protect the rights of senior citizens and other individuals who live in long-term care facilities throughout the state. Those rights include the right to be free from abuse or neglect, the right to various levels of self-determination, and the right to privacy. Under the Act, residents of skilled nursing facilities located in Illinois are supposed to enjoy freedom from unauthorized restraint, the ability to entertain visitors, the opportunity to choose their own healthcare providers, and other rights. Additionally, nursing homes have a duty to ensure the rights enumerated in the Act are not violated. If you feel your friend or loved one was abused or neglected by a nursing home agent or employee, you should contact a quality nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to discuss your concerns.
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Scientists at the University of Manchester in England have developed a carpet that could alert staff at nursing homes and other care facilities that a resident is likely to fall. The so-called “magic carpet” reportedly has special plastic fibers attached to the bottom that bend and send signals to a computer when someone walks on it. In the future, the signals may be used to identify walking behavior changes and alert care staff to a sudden trip or fall.

About half of all hospital admissions for seniors are reportedly caused by a fall. In addition, an estimated 40 percent of individuals who reside in a long-term care facility experience a fall injury in any given year. Researchers believe the carpet technology could be used to prevent falls in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities as well as the personal homes of senior citizens. In addition, the carpet may allow doctors or caregivers to analyze an elderly person’s gait to identify potential issues before they arise. The lead scientist on the project, Dr. Patricia Scully, said the carpet was designed to be low-cost, non-intrusive, and adaptable. Because of this, Scully believes the technology may be useful in a variety of settings and retrofitted as needed by the elderly and others who may be prone to falling.

Falls in skilled nursing facilities may be caused by a number of factors including improperly fitted beds and wheelchairs, environmental hazards such as poor lighting and wet floors, and underlying health problems. In addition, a failure on the part of nursing home caregivers to monitor the elderly and disabled after medication and other changes can contribute to resident falls. The nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that employee education, safety equipment, and proper medical care for residents can have a dramatic impact on fall rates at long-term care facilities throughout the United States.

Unfortunately, nursing home patients also risk falling when facilities fail to employ enough certified nursing assistants and other direct care staff. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act required that skilled nursing facilities operating within the state increase the number of employees to a level that sufficiently meets the needs of all residents. Despite the legislation, inadequate or poorly trained staff is frequently a factor in nursing home abuse or neglect cases in our state. If your loved one was hurt or died at skilled nursing facility in Illinois, you should discuss your concerns with a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney immediately.
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