Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

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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 →

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If you’re over the age of 35, you could be forgiven for not being familiar with “Snapchat.” But it’s worth learning about, considering it has more than 200 million active users and is one of the fastest social media apps in the world. It’s also being cited in an alarming number of nursing home abuse cases across the country. iphone2

Take for example:

  • In August, two aides at a nursing home in Massachusetts were arrested for reportedly posting humiliating videos of several nursing home residents. One involved an 86-year-old woman sitting on the toilet being asked questions about her sex life. Another was a 75-year-old woman under the caption, “Chuckie’s Bride.” In another, a 99-year-old woman tries to break free of the aide who is hugging her in her bed, telling her she loves her.
  • In California, sheriff’s officials in San Diego launched an investigation after a Snapchat video depicted an elderly nursing home patient nude in the shower, while a worker stands behind her laughing.
  • In Illinois, a nursing assistant films as another slaps the face of a 97-year-old dementia patient with a nylon strap as the woman begs for the pair to stop. The workers laugh at her.
  • In Ohio, a nursing assistant recorded residents who were coached to say, “I’m in love with coco,” which is slang for cocaine.
  • Most recently in Wisconsin, a former nursing assistant at a Wisconsin assisted living facility was arrested on felony charges after allegedly taking video of a mostly naked patient and posting on Snapchat. The patient is 93-years-old and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The 21-year-old former worker faces up to 1.5 years in prison.

Continue reading →

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The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently received a report from an organization called Public Justice addressing the problem of mandatory arbitration agreements for nursing home patients and residents of long-term care facilities. grandmother

Arbitration agreements are contracts that an increasing number of nursing homes require new patients and/or their representatives to sign upon admission to the facility. These contracts bind the parties, in the event of a dispute regarding care (i.e., a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit) to engage in arbitration, rather than civil litigation. The benefits to the process are numerous for the nursing homes, as the process tends to result in more favorable outcomes for them and proceedings are confidential. Plus, arbitrators aren’t bound by decisions made by other courts or even other arbitrators. These clauses can also block class action lawsuits.

However, by forfeiting the right to civil litigation, potential claimants lose a number of important rights. Continue reading →

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Residential agreements are required by most – if not all – nursing home residents at the time of admission. elder2

In some cases, these agreements simply lay out the financial obligation of resident seeking placement. However, an increasing number of homes are requiring residents and/or their representatives to sign arbitration agreements. These are essentially contracts that prohibit a resident from filing a lawsuit in court in the event of negligence or abuse resulting in harm to the resident. Instead, they are required to submit any claim to binding arbitration.

What many people don’t understand is that this is a forfeiture of a constitutional right. Although arbitration can yield favorable results to plaintiffs, a court of law is typically the best forum to weigh these complex cases. Plaintiffs tend to have a higher success rate in court and damages awarded are often significantly more substantial. Continue reading →