Articles Tagged with elder abuse

Senators Reveal Names of 22 Illinois Nursing Homes with Seriously Poor Care

Placing a loved one in a nursing home can be a difficult, heartbreaking and confusing decision. As nursing home attorneys, we see why thisaging-2379003_1920-1024x819 can be so painful for families. They want the best care for their loved one, but often don’t know how to distinguish between great facilities and ones that may be dangerous for their family member.

Two Pennsylvania Senators recently made that job a little bit easier.

elderly-1461424_1920-thumb-350x233-90117-thumb-350x233-97162-300x200When you place your loved one in the care of trained staff at a nursing home, the last thing you think about is the possibility that your relative may succumb to a fatal infection. But that is what is happening around the country, as elderly patients in overcrowded nursing homes fall victim to severe infections–called sepsis–as a result of bedsores, according to an investigation by Kaiser Health News and The Chicago Tribune.

A federal report recently revealed that sepsis is the most common reason for transferring patients from a nursing home to a hospital, and death occurs much more often in sepsis cases than in hospitalizations for other reasons. Sadly, as many as 25,000 patients a year are transferred to hospitals suffering from sepsis, according to a report by a private health care data firm. And the statistics in Illinois are similarly bleak: every year about 6,000 nursing home residents are hospitalized for sepsis, and 1 in 5 pass away.

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of a serious infection in the bloodstream that can develop in bedridden patients. These serious infections are often the result of bedsores–also called pressure sores–that go untreated in nursing homes. Fully 60% of nursing homes in Illinois have been cited for failing to properly treat bedsores. Elderly residents, who may be in fragile health already, can have difficulty recovering from sepsis, and that is why it is so deadly.

dependent-441408_1280.jpgBy 2050, people age 65 and older will make up 20% of the total U.S. population. The fastest growing group of American’s are those 85 years old and up. According to the last census in 2010, there were 5.8 million age 85 or older. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be 19 million people aged 85 years or older. Moreover, 1 in 8 people age 85 or older resides in a nursing home or long-term care facility. As the need for skilled nursing home care grows, so does the rate of elder abuse and neglect.

As the population ages, more and more Americans are needing long-term medical care. Annually over 8 million people receive support from the following long-term care services:

1. Home health agencies (4,742,500);

elderly-1461424_1920.jpgAs the population in the United States continues to age, it is estimated that there will be 19 million Americans over the age of 85 by the year 2050. Currently 1 in 8 Americans resides in a long-term care facility or nursing home. This doesn’t even factor in the number of people who need short-term stays in nursing homes for rehabilitation or following medical procedures or injuries.

The choice of a nursing home is an important one. In 2002 the New York Times reported that Federal studies showed that nearly 90% of nursing homes were understaffed and lacked the capabilities to handle the number of patients in their facilities. Since this 2002 study, many facilities still remain vastly understaffed.

Additionally, sadly, nursing home abuse and neglect is more common than one might think. From unwitnessed falls, dehydration and malnutrition, to pressure ulcers, nursing homes without adequate and well-trained staff can cause serious injuries or even death for residents.

Nursing home residents have rights which are protected under federal law, and which must be explained to the resident in understandable language. In summary, these are the rights (See the link below from Medicare.gov. for a more detailed description):

(1) To be treated with respect.family-515530_1920.jpg

(2) To participate in activities.

The National Council on Aging has grandmother-506341_1920.jpgpublished its “Top Ten Financial Scams Targeting Seniors” list.  https://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/money-management/scams-security/top-10-scams-targeting-seniors/.  These scams are crimes, and they are on the rise. When they happen, they are devastating to not only the senior victim, but also to those who care for them, or must shoulder the financial burden when the scam has left the senior less able to.

If you are caring for a loved one in his/her senior years, please send them this link, and talk to them about these despicable, but popular scams:

(1) Medicare/health insurance scams: The perpetrator poses as a health care representative; the whole purpose is to get the senior’s personal information, which can then be used to submit false bills to Medicare and other insurers.

A shift in power and control has returned to those who most need it – nursing home residents and their families. In a recent ruling, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) prohibited mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements between federally funded nursing homes and their residents. Prior to the new ruling, many nursing homes required residents to sign an arbitration agreement which forced residents to solve any dispute that may arise between them and the nursing home outside of court. These agreements heavily favored the nursing homes and took away a resident’s power to use the court system for injuries caused by a nursing home’s wrongful conduct.

The ruling is a strong attempt to return that power back to the plaintiffs in disputes concerning nursing homes. This is especially important in cases involving negligence, elder abuse, sexual harassment and even wrongful death. Arbitration keeps these cases out of the view of the public and often leads to much smaller rewards or settlements for those harmed by the home.

The CMS, a federal agency within the Department for Health and Human Services, controls more than $1 trillion in Medicare and Medicaid funding. They passed the rule after 16 different states and the District of Columbia lobbied the government to completely cut funding to nursing homes that had arbitration clauses in their residency agreements. They argued that “arbitration kept patterns of wrongdoing hidden from prospective residents and their families”.

Are you concerned that a family member is being abused or neglected at a nursing home? Mistreatment at the hands of a caregiver can happen in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes. The mistreatment may take the form of physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, or even financial exploitation. Signs of elder abuse differ but each type of abuse has distinct signs associated with it.

  • Physical abuse can be detected by visible signs on the body, including bruises, scars, sprains, or broken bones. More subtle indications of physical abuse include a fear of certain caregivers.
  • Emotional abuse often accompanies the other types of abuse and can usually be detected by changes in personality or behavior, such as being emotionally agitated or extremely withdrawn. The elder may also exhibit behavior mimicking dementia, such as rocking or mumbling.

Co-authored by Gregory Zimmer of The Collins Law Firm, P.C.

Contusions, bedsores, broken hips—all signs of nursing home neglect or abuse that can be caught earlier or even prevented with protective-care cameras. Last week, the Illinois legislature sent Governor Rauner a bill aimed at getting cameras in the rooms of every nursing home resident who wants one. Illinois has more than 860 nursing homes with more than 76,000 residents.1  If the governor passes the bill (HB2462), each of those residents can be better protected.

The possibility of neglect or abuse in nursing homes is a legitimate concern. The Federal Government’s General Accounting Office reports that 25% of the nation’s nursing homes have deficiencies that either cause actual harm to residents or carry the potential for serious injury or death.2  As a means to combat this problem, HB2462 specifies that footage from the cameras could be used as evidence in court.2

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