Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

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A recent nursing home negligence lawsuit out of Massachusetts underscores how important it is to promptly consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Specifically, it’s imperative that all claims be filed within the appropriate statute of limitations, which can vary depending on the type of claim, where the claim occurred and the identity of the defendant.

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In a case of alleged nursing home negligence, plaintiff’s claim for damages due to wrongful death failed after claimant reportedly missed an important statute of limitations deadline. The reason he missed it, according to court records, is that defendant nursing home in this case was operated by a branch of the federal government. As such, it was subject to certain statutory provisions that differed from state statutes. Specifically, the statute of limitations for wrongful death actions.

State law in Massachusetts requires all wrongful death actions be brought within three years of when the cause of action arises, meaning either when the death occurs or when its cause (in this case, nursing home negligence) becomes known or was knowable. Meanwhile, federal tort law (like Florida law) requires all wrongful death actions be filed within two years of when the cause of action accrues. Continue reading →

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A family in Illinois has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home, alleging staff at the center misread her chart and failed to resuscitate her after she was found unconscious. ambulance

The patient was just 52 when she died, and suffered from kidney disease and diabetes. She was reportedly initially admitted to the center due to a rare bacterial infection that had caused her to come down with a bad case of pneumonia. Her stay was only supposed to last three weeks. However, her family says it was extended to six months after she suffered a nursing home fall while unattended and broke her hip.

Then one morning in March 2016, a staffer reportedly found the woman unconscious. A full half hour passed before a call was made to emergency services by a staff member who told dispatchers a resident had died, and there was a do not resuscitate order. Ten minutes after that, another call was placed to 911 reporting the employee had misread the chart and pleading for paramedics to come right away. Continue reading →

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A new study by researchers at Wayne State University reveals a “substantial amount of costs” to the U.S. healthcare system due to fall-related injuries in nursing homes. hand

Specifically, the study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, focused on facial injuries. Looking at emergency room data from 2011 to 2015, they found approximately 110,000 nursing home residents in their 60s who were treated for facial injuries. The risk of facial injury increased with age and for female residents.

Facial trauma among the elderly is reportedly “largely neglected” in previous studies, and researchers asserted additional focus on this problem will be imperative as our population ages and more people reside in nursing homes.  Continue reading →

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Last year, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) initiated a rule that prohibits nursing homes from requiring patients to sign mandatory arbitration agreements prior to disputes. However, CMS hit the brakes on enforcement of that rule in a largely-overlooked memo in December, indicating it would not do so until a court-ordered injunction is lifted. That occurred in November, when the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi granted the request of trade group American Health Care Association’s to halt the rule.old woman wheelchair

The other big question mark here is how the Trump Administration is going to handle this issue, which involves stripping nursing home residents of the legal remedy of pursuing a trial in court. Instead, arbitration agreements require disputes – even those pertaining to serious personal injury and death –  be handled by an arbitrator of the nursing home’s choosing.

In the meantime, courts across the country have come to varying conclusions about the issue. In September, the Florida Supreme Court rejected mandatory arbitration in a nursing home abuse case. While the 3rd District Court of Appeal had sided with the nursing home in ruling the case should go to an arbitrator, the state supreme court ruled 5-2 that a decedent father should not be bound by an arbitration agreement signed without his consent by his son – who helped with his father’s admission to the nursing home.  Continue reading →

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Restraints in nursing homes are only to be used sparingly, for medically necessary reasons, for a very limited period of time and under close supervision. Unfortunately, too many nursing homes will initiate the use of physical restraints or chemical restraints without the proper justification, procedure or supervision, resulting in serious harm to elderly patients.wheelchair

This is what was alleged recently by the daughter of a nursing home patient in Virginia. According to The Virginian-Pilot, plaintiff alleges two nurses tied her elderly mother to her wheelchair with bed sheets and then injected her with a narcotic sedative in order to keep her quiet. The lawsuit alleges the victim was kept in that state overnight. When another nurse came on shift and wanted to free her and clean her up, the supervisor reportedly instructed her to, “leave her sit in it.”

An investigation by the state health department was initiated after authorities received two complaints alleging two different residents (this one included) were restrained at the facility. Plaintiff’s daughter only found out about the incident after she received an anonymous call from someone who reportedly worked at the nursing home. When plaintiff raised the issue with the nursing home, a supervisor reportedly told her it had already been investigated and there was no proof it had occurred. However, plaintiff now says that review was done quietly and failed to really scratch the surface of what allegedly happened.The health department ultimately formulated a correction plan for the facility.  Continue reading →

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The widow of a man who died in a fire while in the care of a county-owned nursing home in Philadelphia has filed a lawsuit alleging negligence by the facility and staffers. The man, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease and numerous other ailments, was reportedly engulfed in flames after dropping his lit cigarette on his clothing.cigarette

The nursing home negligence lawsuit alleges the facility violated federal nursing home regulations by allowing him to smoke unsupervised, despite the fact that he needed help with many basic tasks. He required assistance to eat, bathe, dress, brush his teeth and more. Yet somehow, he was entrusted to use an open flame without supervision, jeopardizing not only his safety but also that of other patients and staffers at the facility.

This is the kind of judgment lapse that families may want to be on alert for when going to visit loved ones in nursing homes this holiday season. It may seem like a simple oversight, but the fact is, it could quickly end in tragedy. Continue reading →

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The U.S. Health and Human Services Department, the agency that oversees and controls more than $1 trillion in Medicaid and Medicare funding has made a bold move to protect the rights of nursing home patients and their families. The agency has just issued a new rule that prohibits any nursing home that receives federal funding (pretty much all of them) from forcing victims of elder abuse, sexual harassment or wrongful death into private arbitration dispute resolution, rather than court. elder

The rule would affect nursing homes across the nation caring for approximately 1.5 million residents.

Arbitration agreements, often stuffed into the admissions paperwork, require patients and their families to settle their complaints about the quality of care or serious abuse before a private arbitrator. The outcomes of these dispute resolutions are often heavily skewed in favor of the industry. Not only are damage awards less likely, they are lower when they are awarded. Arbitrators aren’t required to follow the law and their proceedings are not made public. Although this has tremendously aided the nursing home industry in driving down litigation costs, it has proven a serious roadblock to justice for elderly patients and families of patients who have been abused and neglected.  Continue reading →

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The organizational structure of nursing homes and long-term care centers throughout the country has created challenges for nursing home negligence lawyers seeking to hold these companies and staffers accountable for abuse and neglect of the elderly. oldwomanwheelchair

It used to be that in most cases of nursing home abuse or neglect, plaintiffs could be relatively certain that a lawsuit naming the facility and/or its staffers would generally cover all possible defendants. What we are seeing more frequently is a situation where nursing homes use complex management structures that obscure the entities responsible for delivering care. They often set up a number of sub-companies that de-centralize ownership and separate real estate ownership from operations, etc. All that can make it difficult for residents and their families to seek compensation from the appropriate parties through litigation.

That was an issue that cropped up in the case of Maree v. Neuwirth, recently before the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Continue reading →

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In Florida, as in many states, there are legal requirements that identify mandatory reporters who must report suspicions of abuse of children or vulnerable adults – including elderly adults residing in a nursing home. Professionally mandated reporters include (but are not limited to):crutches

Staff at adult day care centers;

  • Bank officers;
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Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal scrapped a nursing home arbitration agreement because of an unenforceable damage cap contained therein – one that the court said went to the financial heart of the agreement. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In Estate of Novosett v. Arc Villages, the court decided that because this part of the agreement was not enforceable, the entire agreement was unenforceable. That leaves plaintiff free to pursue remedy through the courts, as opposed to being forced to take the case before an arbitrator.

Still, justices asked the Florida Supreme Court to weigh in on whether arbitration could be compelled based on the severability clause of the contract.  Continue reading →