Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer | Brown & Brothers http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net Stop Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect. Discuss your case with a leading National Nursing Home Abuse Attorney. Call Brown & Brothers Law Firm. 1-877-624-8371 Sun, 06 May 2018 17:37:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 Is Antipsychotic Medication Use Increasing Among Elderly Patients? http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/antipsychotic-medication-use-increasing-among-elderly-patients/ Sun, 06 May 2018 17:37:57 +0000 http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/?p=2335 In recent months, more attention has been given to the use of antipsychotic medications in nursing homes and the danger these drugs pose to residents.  Now, an article published in April 2018 in “McKnight’s Long-Term Care News” begs the question...Read More

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In recent months, more attention has been given to the use of antipsychotic medications in nursing homes and the danger these drugs pose to residents.  Now, an article published in April 2018 in “McKnight’s Long-Term Care News” begs the question of if antipsychotic medication use is increasing among elderly patients outside the nursing home setting.  Use of antipsychotic medications while independent, or while in assisted living, impacts residents but also could impact nursing homes as residents require more assistance.

Is Antipsychotic Medication Use Increasing Among Elderly Patients?

According to AARP’s Public Policy Institute, off-label prescribing of antipsychotic medications is increasing among elderly individuals – particularly among dementia patients in assisted living facilities.  Off-label prescribing means that a doctor has ordered a prescription for medical conditions outside what the U.S.  Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug for.  The drug may be considered useful or effective in treating off-label conditions, but doctors should be very careful in determining whether off-label use is appropriate.

Off-label antipsychotic medication use among dementia patients – at home and in assisted living facilities – increased around six percent between 2012 and 2015.  That increase accounts for a rise from 12.6 percent in 2012 to 13.4 percent in 2015.  Off-label use was primarily among women, individuals over 75, and individuals living in the Southern United States.

Because research shows that antipsychotic use among individuals outside nursing homes has increased, the AARP Public Policy Institute is advising that efforts to reduce off-label use of these drugs should extend well beyond the nursing home setting.  Many individuals who enter nursing homes are already prescribed these medications, which raises concerns about continued care and safety once residents enter a facility.

Doctors and care providers have specific obligations to ensure that your loved one is safe, and is only prescribed or given medications that are truly needed.   If you are concerned about your elderly loved one and antipsychotic prescribing or administration, contact Brown & Brothers to learn more about your loved one’s legal rights.

Antipsychotic Medication Use and Nursing Homes

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has a program, the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care, which has worked diligently to reduce antipsychotic medication use in nursing homes.  Between 2011 and 2017, antipsychotic use was decreased by 34 percent.  The agency has set a goal to reduce use by another 15 percent by 2019.

In 2017, the National Center for Assisted Living reported that 56 “member communities” had successfully met a 2015 quality initiative goal of reducing off-label antipsychotic use by 15 percent, or by achieving a usage rate of five percent or less.  This success represents only a small fraction of the total number of nursing homes and facilities, and elderly individuals, that are impacted by antipsychotic medication use.

Why Antipsychotic Medications are Prescribed or Administered Inappropriately

Antipsychotic medications are strictly regulated, but off-label use is making it much more difficult to mitigate the risks.  For many years, antipsychotic medications have been inappropriately administered to nursing home residents as a means of sedating or restraining them.  Some reports suggest that understaffing is one reason why this occurs.  When nursing home staff feels that they cannot adequately control or manage difficult behaviors, they may choose to sedate residents in order to calm them down.  This practice is highly unethical and illegal, and is a violating of the residents’ legal rights.

Within that same sphere, there is also a great deal of concern about doctors prescribing antipsychotics inappropriately, including diagnosing conditions the patient does not have in order to validate a prescription.  Such instances have been linked to partnerships between doctors and nursing homes, as well as unethical practices based on kickbacks or other incentives doctors may receive from drug manufacturers.  In either case, inappropriately prescribing or administering antipsychotics is unsafe, unethical, and should not be tolerated.

Understanding the Risks of Off-Label Medication Use

If you or a loved one has been prescribed a medication for off-label use, it is important that you understand what that means, and what the risks are.  When medications are prescribed for off-label use, that means that the FDA has not determined the safety or effectiveness of the drug for conditions outside those approved.

According to the FDA, off-label use means unapproved use of approved drugs, such as the following:

  • A drug used to treat a condition or disease that it is not FDA approved to treat. For example, a chemotherapy drug used to treat one type of cancer is used to treat a different type of cancer.
  • A drug is prescribed differently than FDA approved guidelines. For example, a drug that is FDA approved as a capsule being prescribed as a liquid, or oral solution.
  • A drug is prescribed at a different dose than what is FDA approved. For example, the FDA approved dose is one tablet per day, but the prescription instructs patients to take two tablets per day.

If your healthcare provider has recommended you take a medication for off-label use, it is important to ask questions and get the facts before taking the medication.  Consider the following questions recommended by the FDA:

  • What has the FDA approved the drug for?
  • Are there other drugs that are FDA approved to treat my condition or disease?
  • What scientific studies support use of this drug for my condition or disease?
  • What is the likelihood that this drug will treat my condition better than an approved drug?
  • What are the benefits and risks associated with taking this drug?
  • Will my health insurance cover this medication for off-label use?
  • Are there any clinical trials available related to this drug and my condition or disease that I could enroll in?

Understanding Your Legal Rights

Any time you have questions about the medications you are prescribed, or how medications are administered in a nursing home setting, it is important that you understand your legal rights.  As a patient or nursing home resident, you have certain rights that should never been violated by inappropriate medication prescribing or administration.  To learn more about your rights and how to protect yourself or your loved ones, contact Brown & Brothers for a free case consultation.  Fill out our online form to get started.

Sources:

https://www.mcknights.com/news/aarps-elizabeth-carter-efforts-to-reduce-off-label-use-need-to-be-expanded/article/760609/

https://www.fda.gov/ForPatients/Other/OffLabel/ucm20041767.htm

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Are Texas Nursing Home Residents Being Overmedicated? http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/are-texas-nursing-home-residents-being-overmedicated/ Wed, 14 Mar 2018 19:34:46 +0000 http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/?p=2329 The issue of unnecessarily medicating and overmedicating of nursing home residents has been a hot topic among advocates and attorneys for quite some time.  While often referenced on a broad or nationwide level, a local news station has brought the...Read More

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The issue of unnecessarily medicating and overmedicating of nursing home residents has been a hot topic among advocates and attorneys for quite some time.  While often referenced on a broad or nationwide level, a local news station has brought the issue closer to home by answering the question, “are Texas nursing home residents being overmedicated?”

According to the U.S.  Food and Drug Administration (FDA), around 15,000 nursing home residents die every year due to unnecessary use of antipsychotic medications.  Now, let’s take a look at just how serious this problem is for Texan’s.  If you have questions, contact Brown & Brothers to learn more.

Investigation Shows Texas Nursing Home Residents are Being Overmedicated

In February 2018, WFAA8 news published part 4 of an ongoing investigation into nursing home abuse and neglect in Texas.  Part 4 specifically addresses inappropriate or unnecessary use of medications.  The report titled “Drugged and Dying” highlights a gut wrenching trend that is risking the lives of nursing home residents across the state.

According to the investigation, 96 percent of Texas nursing homes admitted that they have given drugs to residents who don’t need them.  With the federal government reportedly cracking down on use of chemical restraints like antipsychotic drugs, advocates and families want to know how and why this is even a problem.

Under the federal guidelines, nursing homes cannot administer antipsychotic medications unless a doctor diagnoses the individual with “at least one of three” mental illnesses.  The three eligible illnesses include schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, and Tourette’s syndrome.  The most commonly diagnosed mental illness among nursing home residents is schizophrenia.  Since the laws changed, the number of nursing home residents diagnosed with schizophrenia increased by 26 percent.

Experts noted that schizophrenia generally develops early in life, most often in the 20’s, not later in life.  Experts also pointed out that diagnosing someone with schizophrenia or any mental illness for the purpose of sedation may be inappropriate and dangerous. Nursing home residents are already vulnerable, but when they are overmedicated, they run a higher risk for falls and other injuries.

Why are Texas Nursing Homes Overmedicating Residents?

There is no acceptable or appropriate answer to why residents are overmedicated, but there is a likely reason for why it occurs.  That issue is staffing.  Texas is one of few states that does not have minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes.  That often leaves facilities understaffed or under-funded.  Around 70 percent of nursing home expenses are related to staffing, so facilities sometimes also cut back on staffing in an effort to boost profitability.  Unfortunately, both scenarios put residents at risk.

Another reason why nursing home residents are overmedicated is because nursing homes are not being forced to stop.  Inappropriately diagnosing residents, giving them non-prescribed medications, or overmedicating them to sedate them is not a new concern for Texas lawmakers.  In October 2016, the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman issued a report to all nursing home administrators about the dangers of misdiagnosis, fraudulent diagnosis and overmedication.  Still, little has been done to correct the issue of staffing, or to really crack down on facilities using unethical and unsafe tactics.  To see the full list of facilities, percentage of residents who received antipsychotics, and the number of facilities fined for doing so, view this spreadsheet from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Ethical, Legal, and Health Risks of Inappropriately Medicating Residents

For understaffed nursing homes, medicating residents may seem like an easy way to manage residents and cut costs.  This practice is not only inappropriate and unethical, it is also illegal to medicate someone without their consent.  Texas has “informed consent” laws requiring caregivers to explain medications and possible side effects to patients prior to administering the drug.

The WFAA8 investigation revealed that some nursing homes would go to extreme lengths to hide medications from residents.  One resident reported that drugs had been crushed or hidden in her food or drink.  Another report detailed a nursing home resident who was in good health until the facility began administering Risperdal without a corresponding diagnosis.  In her immobilized and drugged state, the resident fell and broke her hip, and then died two weeks later.

An informant at a Dallas-area nursing home described a phrase used to identify the practice of sedating residents.  The phrase, ‘take this lady to China’, was a signal to give the resident any medication that would sedate them.  The informant recalled one particular patient who ‘went to China’ but ended up in the hospital.  She never returned.

Get More Information about Protecting Nursing Home Residents

Whether you are a nursing home resident, a family member, or an advocate, if you want more information about how to protect nursing home residents and their legal rights, contact Brown & Brothers.  Our skilled nursing home abuse attorneys can help you understand your legal rights, identify risks, abuse, or neglect, and take action.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is not acceptable and should not be allowed to continue.  For more information, fill out our online form.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.scribd.com/document/372645819/Nursing-Homes?secret_password=ahyeMSIdH44Wb4Umc3Te#from_embed

http://www.wfaa.com/article/news/local/investigates/drugged-and-dying-some-nursing-homes-are-overmedicating-residents-rather-than-paying-caretakers/287-524150040

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Do Nursing Home Residents Get the Palliative Care they Deserve? http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/nursing-home-residents-palliative-care-deserve/ Thu, 30 Nov 2017 18:32:50 +0000 http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/?p=2321 A recent U.S.  study has many people asking – “do nursing home residents get the palliative care they deserve?” It seems that many nursing home residents who are eligible for palliative care, or who could benefit from it, do not...Read More

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A recent U.S.  study has many people asking – “do nursing home residents get the palliative care they deserve?” It seems that many nursing home residents who are eligible for palliative care, or who could benefit from it, do not receive it in the way they should.  Let’s take a closer look at what research has to say and explore palliative care and the legal rights of nursing home residents.

Research Suggests Nursing Home Residents Do Not Get Adequate Palliative Care

Researchers recently conducted a study of 228 residents living across three northern California nursing homes.  Researchers discovered that 157 of the 228 residents (69 percent) were eligible for palliative care based on their health issues.  Of those, none were receiving palliative care, and only two were receiving hospice services.  Only four percent of the residents studied had been assessed by the nursing home to determine prognosis and life expectancy based on their diagnoses.

Among the nursing home residents studied in this research, around 25 percent of patients surveyed expressed a desire for “comfort-focused treatment” as end-of-life care.  Some 71 percent of patients reported experiencing bothersome symptoms.  Around 64 percent of family members reported belief that their loved ones experienced bothersome symptoms.

Why Palliative Care is Important

It is widely accepted that palliative care is initiated too late in the healthcare process for nursing home residents to get the real benefits of what palliative care is designed to offer.  When implemented in a timely and effective manner, palliative care offers improved quality of life, enhanced symptom management, and increased satisfaction with overall care.  These benefits are for the patient and his or her family during a difficult time.

Palliative care is often confused with hospice care, and while similar, they offer different levels of care.  Palliative care is used to improve quality of life for individuals who are seriously ill.  Palliative care focuses not only on comfort and pain relief, but also stress management that coincides with ongoing treatment to cure the disease.  Hospice, on the other hand, focuses on comfort and pain relief without offering active treatment.

The Larger Scale Concern for Nursing Homes

This recent study was small-scale, and only offers a glimpse at what may be a larger problem.  Researchers noted in JAMA Internal Medicine that by the year 2030, two of every five deaths in the U.S.  will occur in nursing homes.  Unfortunately, nursing homes continue to be associated with poor quality and low resident satisfaction levels.  Despite costing an estimated $136 billion per year, nursing homes still fail to provide residents with the quality of care needed.

Nursing homes across the U.S.  can take this research as an important element of addressing the larger problem.  Assessment, treatment, comfort, and pain relief are all fundamental rights of nursing home residents, regardless of how that care is labeled.  It is the duty of the nursing home to address the needs of residents and pursue resources to ensure that quality care is provided.

What Families Can do to Protect Safety and Comfort

One of the best ways to ensure that your loved one gets the quality of care that he or she deserves is being proactive when choosing a nursing home.  No matter what the diagnosis or life expectancy is, your loved one has the right to receive quality, safe, effective care.  Consider the following tips before choosing a nursing home:

  • Ask if the nursing home has a contract for hospice or palliative care services.
  • Ask who provides these services (nurse, pharmacist, social worker, dietician, etc.).
  • Ask if you can schedule a consultation for these services.
  • Ask what palliative care has to offer that is different from routine doctor care.

If your loved one is already living in a nursing home, remember these tips:

  • Any concerns about symptom management should be addresses with nursing staff. If issues continue, contact a nursing home Ombudsman or licensing authority.
  • Remember that palliative care is designed to provide care and comfort for the whole person, just not one part of the body that is sick. With palliative care, your loved one should receive whole person-centered attention and care.
  • If at any time you feel that your loved one is not getting the level of care needed, contact your loved one’s doctor and nursing home administrators

Remember that there are many misconceptions about palliative care and hospice.  For example, it is not true that once an individual is placed on hospice he or she must remain on hospice until death.  Hospice is a choice, and an individual (or his or her power of attorney) may choose to initiate or cancel hospice.

It is also not true that choosing to initiate palliative care is the same thing as “giving up”.  Many people choose to initiate palliative care while they are undergoing treatment for serious illnesses.  Palliative care can help alleviate bothersome symptoms and keep the patient comfortable and stable while treatment focuses on reversal or a cure.

Protecting the Legal Rights of Nursing Home Residents

When you are concerned about the safety or quality of care your loved one is receiving, you may be unsure of where to turn.  Many families find it helpful to contact a nursing home abuse attorney to learn more about the legal rights of nursing home residents.  Nursing home abuse attorneys also have many resources that can help ensure that your concerns are not overlooked or ignored.

At Brown & Brothers, we strive to offer our clients and their families with competent, compassionate legal guidance.  If you have concerns about palliative care, or the fact that your loved one is not receiving adequate care, fill out our online form to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.

Sources:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-palliative-nursing-homes/nursing-home-residents-eligible-for-palliative-care-often-dont-get-it-idUSKBN1DL28S

http://palliativedoctors.org/faq

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Florida Officials Still Investigating Nursing Home Deaths after Hurricane Irma http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/florida-officials-investigating-nursing-home-deaths-irma/ Tue, 10 Oct 2017 13:10:01 +0000 http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/?p=2318 Florida officials are still investigating a series of nursing home deaths after Hurricane Irma knocked out power and downed trees.  Long-term care facilities across Florida prepped for Hurricane Irma by stocking up on food, medical supplies, and water.  Now there...Read More

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Florida officials are still investigating a series of nursing home deaths after Hurricane Irma knocked out power and downed trees.  Long-term care facilities across Florida prepped for Hurricane Irma by stocking up on food, medical supplies, and water.  Now there are questions about why one nursing home, The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, experienced the loss of eight residents in the days following Irma.

Florida Officials Investigate Cause of Nursing Home Deaths

Following reports of the deaths, initial investigations indicated that the air conditioning system at the facility was not fully functional.  The facility tried to offset the heat by using portable air conditioning units, but the facility remained “excessively hot”.  Reports noted that a tree had fallen on the transformer powering the air conditioning system, which is why it initially stopped operating properly.  Per regulations, the facility was required to have a “permanently installed operational generator”, but there is a history of violations relating to failures to follow generator regulations.

As of mid-September 2017, Florida officials were working to determine the exact causes of death.  Florida Governor Rick Scott issued an emergency moratorium in September preventing the facility from admitting new patients.  The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has expressed condolences is reportedly cooperating with the investigation.

So far, three agencies have opened investigations into the facility.  A criminal investigation has also been opened, and a search warrant issued for the property.  Gov. Scott has taken an active role in the investigation process, promising to get answers for the families affected.  He has also promised that, if the facility was not abiding by the state’s standards of care, then they will be “held accountable to the fullest extent of the law”.  It is too early in the investigation to make conclusions, but families of the residents who died are not backing down in their search for answers.

If you have lost a loved one due to substandard care, nursing home abuse, neglect, or other negligence, you likely have as many questions as the families impacted by this tragic situation.  Let Brown & Brothers help get the answers you need and deserve.  Contact our office to speak with one of our skilled nursing home abuse attorneys.

Could These Nursing Home Deaths have been Prevented?

Officials are looking to answer this question by assembling a thorough picture of what transpired before the trail of deaths began.  Here is what is currently known about the series of events:

September 12

Broward County Emergency Operations Center was informed that the facility had lost power.  “Mission-critical” status was requested with the power company.  The facility was asked if they had medical or emergency needs, which they reportedly replied that no assistance was needed.  The same day, the first of eight residents was found dead.  Authorities were not called following the death.

September 13

September 13, 2017 is a day that will live on in the minds of many for years to come.  The series of events and deaths that occurred have raised attention in more than one industry.  Here is what is currently known about what transpired:

  • Around 3 a.m. someone at the facility called 911 to report a resident experiencing cardiac arrest.  The patient was transported to a local hospital.
  • Around 4 a.m. a second 911 call was made reporting a resident with breathing problems.  Following this 911 call, a lieutenant with the responding fire department called a battalion chief, who then called the Department of Children and Families to report the incidents.
  • Shortly after 4 a.m. another 911 call was made requesting patient transport.  At this time, the fire department sent several crews to the scene to investigate.  Three residents were found dead on the second floor with multiple others in distress.
  • Around 5 a.m., the chief nursing officer at Memorial Regional Hospital (just yards away) decided to walk to the facility after receiving a number of patients with extremely high temperatures. Upon entering the facility, she immediately triggered the hospital’s “mass-casualty alert”, noting the excessively high temperature and number of residents in distress.
  • At 9:15 a.m., 141 residents were evacuated from the nursing home via hospital and paramedic staff. Even with staff rushing to evacuate the building, four more residents died after being taken to hospitals.

The days following the deaths and reports, a number of friends and family members stepped forward asking questions and relating their experiences with the facility.  One individual described visiting a resident the day before she died and how uncomfortably hot it was.  She stated that the residents were kept in the hallways near portable air conditioning units, but it was so hot residents complained of being unable to breathe.

For the surviving residents who were evacuated, some remained in hospitals for extended periods of time, while others were released to the care of other facilities or family members.

What Does the Future Hold after Such Tragedy?

Looking to the future, the primary concern related to these nursing home deaths is preventing future injuries or deaths.  Florida law requires nursing homes be kept between 71 and 81 degrees.  Backup power sources must be able to keep temperatures within safe limits.  As the investigation continues, the focus will be on determining whether The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills followed applicable standards of care, laws, and regulations.  Further, could the facility have taken additional measures to protect residents and prevent these nursing home deaths?

In such situations, there is a lot of concern about protecting the legal rights of residents.  If you have questions about your legal rights, or that of a loved one, contact Brown & Brothers today.  Our attorneys are dedicated to protecting the legal rights of nursing home residents and ensuring that nursing home abuse, neglect, negligence, or wrongful death does not go unnoticed or unaddressed.  Fill out our online form to learn more.

Source:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/14/health/florida-nursing-home-irma/index.html

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Are Veterans Knowingly Placed in Harm’s Way at Texas Nursing Home? http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/veterans-knowingly-placed-harms-way-texas-nursing-home/ Tue, 13 Jun 2017 19:45:29 +0000 http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/?p=2311 A Texas news station, KRIS 6 News, has recently wrapped up an investigation into whether veterans are knowingly placed in harm’s way at a Texas nursing home.  According to the investigation, the U.S.  Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has continued...Read More

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A Texas news station, KRIS 6 News, has recently wrapped up an investigation into whether veterans are knowingly placed in harm’s way at a Texas nursing home.  According to the investigation, the U.S.  Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has continued to place veterans in The Palms Rehabilitation and Nursing in Corpus Christi despite a series of complaints and poor inspections.

If you have a loved one who is a veteran and who may need the care of a nursing home, read on to learn more about this potentially dangerous situation and how you can protect your loved one.  To learn more about your legal rights, contact Brown & Brothers.

VA Contracting with Poorly-Rated Nursing Homes

Deciding that it is time to consider a nursing home is never an easy choice for families caring for an elderly loved one.  For families of veterans, it is common to trust the guidance of the VA when choosing a nursing home.  Unfortunately, not all of the nursing home options available through the VA are up to par.

In 2014, The Palms was subject to an unannounced visit from the U.S.  Department of Health and Human Services.  State officials were forced to intervene after that visit due to the poor health conditions of patients, including several suffering from dehydration or risk of infection.  The Palms was fined $188,000.  During the same period in 2014, the VA renewed a 5-year contract with The Palms, and continued to place veterans in the facility.  Why?

Reports of negligence or complaints against The Palms did not directly involve veterans, so the VA continued to place veterans in the facility despite being aware of the complaints.  According to the VA, the reports they were getting from veterans in The Palms were mostly positive.  Some veterans choose not to report neglect or care problems because they are afraid of retaliation.  The VA coordinator visits contracted facilities six times every year in unannounced visits, but the information gleaned from residents isn’t always representative of what is really going on inside.

A Pattern of Neglect

There are a few patterns of neglect at The Palms that are gaining attention now that KRIS 6 News has investigated.  Reports include:

  • Residents being found in urine-soaked clothes and bedding while waiting for staff to “make their rounds”
  • One resident slipped and fell, sustaining injuries, in an accident that was later noted as being preventable in the state’s report.
  • One family member arrived at The Palms only to find her father unresponsive. Unable to get staff to assist her, the family member called 911.  At the hospital, her father was diagnosed with severe dehydration and an infection.  He died just a few weeks after being hospitalized due to the dehydration.

The attention placed on the neglect reports at The Palms has also prompted the VA to take action.  A statement issued in May 2017 stated that the VA would be providing more nursing home options in Corpus Christi for veterans.

Protecting Your Loved Ones

Not only is making the choice to place a loved one in a nursing home difficult, but it is also often difficult to choose a nursing home.  Whether your loved one is a veteran relying on help from the VA, or you are doing all the groundwork yourself, you don’t have to settle for the first nursing home you explore – and you shouldn’t.  Here are some helpful tips for choosing the right nursing home:

  • Research nursing homes in your desired area, and make a shortlist of contenders you can compare. Check out Medicare’s website for a list of nursing homes that accept Medicare benefits, or contact the VA for a list of VA contracted facilities.
  • Talk to friends and family who have loved ones in a nursing home and get personal reviews. Word-of-mouth is a powerful system for referrals and getting the “inside scoop”.
  • Schedule a visit to the facility and speak with different staff, residents, and healthcare providers on-site. During your visit, take note of any potential red flags, such as a foul smell, residents looking bored or in ill health, lack of staff on-site, etc.  Many people find it helpful to visit during mealtime so they can inspect the sort of food being served.
  • If you don’t have the opportunity to speak with healthcare providers, ask to meet with them specifically. Set an appointment if you need to, but make sure you speak to a nurse, doctor, therapist, or any relevant healthcare providers.
  • Explore management of the facility. Is it run by a company, the government, or privately?
  • Once you have reviewed and visited a few options, look further into online reviews and testimonials. Also, look at Medicare, Better Business Bureau, and other websites to find out what sort of ratings the facility has on a professional level.

Once you have made a choice of nursing home, be mindful that the exploration and monitoring of your loved one doesn’t have to stop there.  If at any time you notice unusual or suspect behavior by staff or other residents, or suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected, you have options to get help.  Not only can you file a report or complaint with the nursing home itself, you can also file complaints with Medicare, the VA, Ombudsman, or Adult Protective Services (APS) if applicable.

Protecting Your Legal Rights

In addition to filing complaints, many people also find it helpful to contact an attorney to discuss their legal rights and that of an elderly loved one.  Nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious problem, and your loved one deserves to have his or her legal rights upheld.  To learn more about protecting the rights of your loved one, contact Brown & Brothers today to schedule a free case review with one of our skilled nursing home abuse attorneys.  Fill out our online form to get started.

Source:

http://www.kristv.com/story/35520416/6-investigates-veterans-sent-to-nursing-home-with-history-of-neglect

 

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Texas Nursing Home Employee Arrested for Injuring the Elderly http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/texas-nursing-home-employee-arrested-injuring-the-elderly/ Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:28:15 +0000 http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/?p=2308 A 23-year-old Texas nursing home employee has been arrested for injuring the elderly after he reportedly played a “joke” on an elderly resident that vehemently crossed ethical lines.  Someone who received disturbing images from the employee via Snapchat took a...Read More

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A 23-year-old Texas nursing home employee has been arrested for injuring the elderly after he reportedly played a “joke” on an elderly resident that vehemently crossed ethical lines.  Someone who received disturbing images from the employee via Snapchat took a screenshot and reported the incident.  This led to the employee’s suspension from his employer, Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Duval, and subsequent arrest.

Cruel Joke Crosses Criminal Lines

According to media reports, the supposed joke began when the nurse’s aide posted images to social media app Snapchat of an elderly resident with what appeared to be feces on her hand.  Then, the nurse’s aide tickles the resident’s nose with a feather of some sort.  The incident was described as basically “rubbing feces all over her face”.

The individual that reported the incident replied to the nurse’s aide that the images were “sick”, and that he could lose his job for such behavior.  The nurse’s aide reportedly did not believe that anyone would report the incident, and laughed when reproached for the cruel behavior.

Investigation Leads to Arrest

The incident was reported to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), which confirmed that the nurse’s aide had been suspended while the investigation continued.  Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has worked with authorities throughout the investigation.  On April 5, 2017, the Pflugerville Police Department dispatched to the residence of the nurse’s aide and arrested him on charges of injury to the elderly.

Under Texas law, injuring the elderly is classified as:

  • An individual causing bodily injury or serious bodily injury to a person 65 years or older.
    • Behavior that intentionally or knowingly causes serious bodily injury, mental injury, or mental impairment is a First Degree Felony.
    • Behavior that intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury is a Third Degree Felony.
    • Behavior that is deemed reckless causing bodily or mental injury is considered a State Jail Felony.

These definitions only refer to the criminal injuring the elderly charges filed in a case like this one.  These charges do not include any additional legal action that the family of the victim may pursue, such as a nursing home abuse lawsuit.

To find out more about nursing home abuse, criminal allegations, and the legal rights of every nursing home resident, contact Brown Wharton & Brothers today.

Case Highlights a Broad Problem in Nursing Homes

In recent years, there have been increasing reports of nursing home abuse involving social media apps and websites.  In 2015, ProPublica released a report suggesting that Snapchat is one of the most common platforms for sharing dehumanizing, embarrassing, or otherwise inappropriate photos of elderly residents.  The report further suggested dozens of nursing home abuse allegations, including several with criminal charges attached, have occurred since 2012.

Reports like this, and cases like the one discussed above highlight a broad problem in nursing homes, and the need for more strict guidelines about use of social media among employees.  Further, there is an increasing interest in how best to preserve and protect resident rights and privacy.

It has been noted that there is the potential benefit of apps like Snapchat capturing unethical or illegal behavior in a way that otherwise may not be recorded, there is still the issue of how reporting of these incidents will be managed.  It is up to nursing homes to implement and follow through with aggressive training and disciplinary plans that uphold state and federal law and speak to the best interests of residents first and foremost.

Caring for the Rights of the Elderly

Injuring the elderly is never acceptable and is taken extremely seriously in most states.  Texas law is clear about the rights of elderly Texans.  Title 40 Part I, Chapter 19 of the Texas Administrative Code states that all nursing home residents are entitled to a certain degree of quality care.  Nursing homes are required to ensure that every resident has the necessary services and supervision to maintain the highest possible level of physical, mental, and psychosocial wellbeing.

Part of this responsibility is adequately screening and training employees.  While there are certainly individuals who deceive even the most conscientious employer, nursing home administrators and staff must keep a keen eye on the behavior and attitude of employees.  They further have the responsibility of reporting any suspected deviations in nursing home policies, state and federal law, or acceptable standards of care.

Anyone who suspects that an elderly friend or loved one is being abused by a nursing home employee, caregiver, or even a friend or family member should speak up.  Elderly Americans are among the most vulnerable and deserving of protection and quality care.  To report suspected elder abuse, contact one of the following organizations applicable in your state, or speak with a nursing home abuse attorney:

  • Office on Aging
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman
  • Department of Elder Affairs
  • Adult Protective Services (APS)

Most states have these, and other, agencies poised to investigate suspected elderly abuse and protect the rights of all elderly individuals.

Contact an Attorney Who Cares

If you suspect someone of injuring the elderly in any way, you may also find it helpful to contact a nursing home abuse attorney who can advise you about the rights of the elderly, the responsibilities of caregivers, and legal options to pursue justice.

At Brown Wharton & Brothers, our team of attorneys has managed all sorts of cases involving elderly abuse or abuse in nursing homes.  We can help you get answers and will fight to protect the rights and future of your friend or loved one.  Fill out our online form to schedule your free case review.

Sources:

https://www.propublica.org/article/nursing-home-workers-share-explicit-photos-of-residents-on-snapchat

http://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/244870509-story

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How Big a Problem is Rape in Nursing Homes? http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/big-problem-rape-nursing-homes/ Fri, 03 Mar 2017 20:32:58 +0000 http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/?p=2305 If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you prepare yourself for the reality of their aging, health, disabilities, and the possibility of their passing in the future.  In this article titled “How Big a Problem is Rape...Read More

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If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you prepare yourself for the reality of their aging, health, disabilities, and the possibility of their passing in the future.  In this article titled “How Big a Problem is Rape in Nursing Homes?” we will discuss something you can’t prepare for – your loved one being sexually abused.

None of us want to consider that our loved ones could face such atrocities in a nursing home, but the reality is that the problem of rape in nursing homes is significant.  Further, rape in nursing homes is a problem plaguing the entire country.

At Brown Wharton & Brothers, our nursing home abuse attorneys have seen firsthand the devastation that sexual abuse causes.  We are passionate about defending the rights of aging Americans and their families.  Contact us if you have questions about rape in nursing homes and your rights.

The Issue of Vulnerability

Nursing home residents are among the most vulnerable.  Many suffer from illness, disabilities, Alzheimer’s or dementia, and mobility limitations.  They are often weak, fragile, and unable to defend themselves.  Unfortunately, these factors also contribute to the reasons why many cases of rape in nursing homes are never reported.

CNN published a startling report recently detailing the results of a widespread analysis of federal and state data.  The analysis included interviews with the families of rape victims, experts, regulators, and others.  The first thing noted was the fact that rape in nursing homes is very seldom discussed openly.  The second thing noted was the fact that the problem is far more common that people think.

Example Case

The cases identified in the CNN report are horrific, and certainly shed light on the gravity of the problem.  Consider the 2015 case of a 73-year-old aide who was found in the bed of an 83-year-old nursing home resident in the act of sexual assault.  Charges were filed in this case, and the aide was convicted.  His sentence? A mere eight years in prison for such a horrific act.  His attorneys cited that his actions were out of character and pled for leniency.

Documents uncovered by CNN reveal that the sexual assault now landing him in prison were not so out of character as his attorneys suggested.  For several years prior to his arrest, the aide had been the primary suspect in at least two sexual abuse cases, and he had been suspended at least three times due to such allegations.  Just seven months prior to the sexual assault on the woman in our example story, the same aide was investigated for sexual assault on another victim residing in the same wing.

The facility reportedly could not substantiate the claims.  Their failure to take preventative action could have saved other residents from suffering the same trauma.  As the criminal case moved forward, the state acknowledged that the facility failed to take appropriate action, but did not cite them for their wrongdoing.  The aide convicted of sexual assault, and accused in so many other cases, worked at the same facility for more than eight years.

The facility has faced no ramifications.  There have been no formal records filed of a pattern of abuse or allegations of sexual assault, which has resulted in many families unknowingly placing their loved ones in harm’s way.  The families of victims who alleged abuse have stated that they would have pushed further with their own cases had they been aware that a pattern existed, or that so many other allegations had been made.

What is Being Done to Stop Rape in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home residents may be vulnerable and rely on others for help and support, but they are still entitled to the same human and civil rights as any other citizen.  In this example case, multiple issues are addressed that question whether the rights of nursing home residents are being upheld.  The CNN report identified disturbing evidence suggesting that nursing home officials and government agencies are not doing enough to stop rape from happening, and are not doing enough to help those who are victimized.  These findings were not exclusive to our example case discussed above.

The report indicated that some cases are due to negligence, sometimes willful or malicious.  Other cases are due to the inability of nursing home staff to understand the situation and communicate with victims, who may be unable to recall information clearly.  Overall, the report found that families affected by rape in nursing homes were failed in the following ways:

  • Nursing homes failed to investigate and report rape allegations, were reluctant to believe allegations, or chose to hide allegations altogether.
  • Police had a pattern of failing to believe accusations or dismissing them as jumbled due to failing memories.
  • State regulators failed to address and flag patterns of accusations, even when repeated, against a single caregiver or facility.

These failings are all responsible for the continued ability of perpetrators to thrive on these vulnerable individuals.

Rape in Nursing Homes: The Facts

Rape in nursing homes is not exclusive to one gender, race, disability, age, or economic status.  In fact, research suggests it is incredibly widespread.  Consider the following:

  • More than 1,000 U.S. nursing homes have been cited for “mishandling suspected cases” of sexual abuse, or failing to prevent alleged sexual assault, sexual abuse, or rape.  Almost 100 percent of these facilities received multiple citations within the same time frame.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) lumps sexual assault into a multi-category of “abuse”, citing their taking any claim of abuse seriously. There is no specific process for addressing sexual assault in the 15,000 plus U.S.  nursing homes receiving CMS funding.
  • Since 2000, over 16,000 sexual abuse complaints have been filed in long-term care facilities across the U.S. These complaints only account for those recorded by Ombudsmen.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, 226 nursing homes were cited for “failing to protect residents” from incidents involving substantiated sexual abuse. Only 60 percent of those cases resulted in a facility being fined.  Only 16 percent resulted in the facility losing CMS funding.
  • At least 500 facilities were found (in the CNN investigation) to have been cited for failure to investigate or report allegations of sexual abuse, or failing to properly screen applicants before hiring.
  • According to the CNN report, of the 251 sexual complaints across Texas nursing homes in 2015, only 11 were considered “substantiated”.

Another concerning element of this CNN report is the fact that most statistics available only include data from nursing homes.  Assisted living facilities are not regulated by the federal government.  This means the numbers, and devastation, could be much higher.

Get Help Today

What is beyond clear from the CNN investigation is the fact that something needs to change.  And while we may not be able to instigate nationwide change, we can help you and your family stand up and demand justice.  Contact Brown Wharton & Brothers to get the help you need protecting your loved one if any form of nursing home abuse is suspected.  Fill out our online form to get started.

 

Source:

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/02/health/nursing-home-sex-abuse-investigation/

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The Relationship Between Nursing Home Abuse and Crime http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/relationship-nursing-home-abuse-crime/ Wed, 01 Feb 2017 21:10:25 +0000 http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/?p=2302 Nursing homes are required by law to provide quality care and protect residents from harm.  Recently, we were asked about the relationship between nursing home abuse and crime.  Protecting residents from harm is often viewed as preventing bedsores, falls, or...Read More

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Nursing homes are required by law to provide quality care and protect residents from harm.  Recently, we were asked about the relationship between nursing home abuse and crime.  Protecting residents from harm is often viewed as preventing bedsores, falls, or illness.  But what about protecting residents from criminals, employees with a criminal record, or fellow residents who may choose to break the law?

The truth is, nursing homes are as likely to experience criminal behavior as anywhere else.  While we all hope that our loved ones will find peace and tranquility in a nursing home environment, that is not always the case.

Examples of Criminal Behavior in Nursing Homes

There are many actions, or lack thereof, that are unethical or negligent, but may not be “illegal”.  If you suspect that your loved one has been abused, neglected, or victimized by crime, it is important to contact an attorney to help identify exactly what happened and take action.

In the nursing home environment, there are several situations that commonly move beyond negligence into the realm of criminal behavior.  Consider the following examples:

Financial Exploitation

In August 2016, a nursing home Medicaid Coordinator in Miami was charged with three counts of grand theft and exploitation.  She is accused to conning residents into giving her access to their ATM cards.  She then allegedly withdrew cash or accessed their accounts stealing more than $13,000.  Residents were told that they had too much money in their accounts to continue qualifying for Medicaid, and that the Coordinator was putting “excess” funds into a company safe.  She was, instead, spending the money on herself.

Fellow Nursing Home Residents

Nursing home employees are not the only ones capable of committing criminal acts.  Nursing home residents can also be a threat to your loved one.  In July 2016, an 87-year-old nursing home resident in Florida was charged with sexual battery after he was found having sex with a 94-year-old nursing home resident.  The victim suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and was too debilitated to consent.

Criminal Abuse

There are also many cases where nursing home abuse or neglect is severe enough to result in criminal charges.  Nursing home employees, family members, or other caregivers are all subject to criminal liability if they physically harm an elderly person.  Further, they can also be held liable for negligence if they fail to respond to witnessed or suspected abuse.  Nursing homes and caregivers can also be criminally charged for failure to report abuse that occurs at the hands of an employee, family member, or other resident.

What the Law Says about Nursing Home Safety

There are a variety of laws designed to protect nursing home residents from abuse, neglect, and crime.  The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) has specific standards that must be met by nursing homes that receive Medicaid or Medicare funding.  NHRA requirements include:

  • States receiving Medicaid or Medicare funding must utilize a state agency dedicated to enforcing NHRA and other legal standards.
  • Nursing homes receiving Medicaid and Medicare funding must “attain and maintain the highest practical mental and psychosocial well-being of each resident”.
  • Nursing home residents must not be physically or pharmaceutically confined or restrained for the convenience of staff, or as punishment.
  • Sexual abuse is a violation of federal and state criminal laws. Sexual abuse may constitute standard laws and elder abuse laws, which may result in harsher punishment.
  • All nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities must provide care and an environment for each resident that will enhance and maintain their quality of life.
  • All residents must be given identical policies and practices related to services, transfer, or discharge, regardless of the method and source of payment.
  • Resident finances must be managed independent of facility accounts. Nursing homes must not require residents to deposit funds within the facility.
  • Nurse aides and staff members must demonstrate competency and complete training and continuing education to ensure they uphold standards.

What to Do if You Suspect Criminal Activity in a Nursing Home

If you or someone you love is living in a nursing home, and you suspect criminal activity on the part of an employee or resident, it is important to get help immediately.  If you witness criminal behavior, call 911 immediately.  If the person committing the act is a resident, notify nursing home staff right away.  If it is an employee, notify the supervisor or administrator after calling 911.

If you suspect any form of nursing home abuse, neglect, or criminal activity, you also may find it helpful to contact your local Adult Protective Services (APS) office, Ombudsman, or other community advocacy office for the elderly.  These organizations can help you learn more about crime, abuse, and neglect in nursing homes, and can provide you with information about filing a complaint or moving yourself or your loved one.

Many people also find it helpful to contact a nursing home abuse attorney.  An attorney who is skilled in nursing home abuse and elder law can help you understand your legal rights as a resident or family member.  Further, if your situation qualifies as crime, abuse, or neglect, an attorney can help investigate options to get compensation for the harm you and/or your loved ones have suffered.

Get Your Free Case Review

To find out more, contact Brown Wharton & Brothers today to schedule your free case review.  Our skilled nursing home abuse attorneys can help you get answers and fight for the justice you deserve.  Get started today by completing our online form.

 

Sources:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/boca-nursing-home-abuse-lawyer-135000415.html

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/1395i-3

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Texas Nursing Homes Cited for Negligence http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/texas-nursing-homes-cited-negligence/ Fri, 18 Nov 2016 17:17:59 +0000 http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/?p=2295 Five Texas nursing homes have been cited for inappropriate touching, malnourishment, and negligence following an investigation by CBS19.  The investigation began after a series of complaints were filed against nursing homes in Tyler and Longview.  Digging deeper into the complaints,...Read More

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Five Texas nursing homes have been cited for inappropriate touching, malnourishment, and negligence following an investigation by CBS19.  The investigation began after a series of complaints were filed against nursing homes in Tyler and Longview.  Digging deeper into the complaints, CBS19 investigators discovered five nursing homes had countless citations and dangerously low scores from the Department of Aging and Disabilities Services (DADS).

Texas Nursing Homes Cited for Negligence

The DADS website indicated that all five nursing homes scored lower than 45 on the 100-point scale used to rate nursing homes.  All five are still in operation and reportedly accept patients on Medicaid and Medicare.  Three of the most concerning facilities were listed as one-star on a variety of websites, prompting CBS19 to investigate those three facilities further.  The list of citations and complaints were startling, including the following:

  • Failure of staff to follow doctors orders.
  • Staff lacking competency skills needed to care for residents.
  • Nurses failing to properly clean residents during catheterization, leaving them at risk for urinary tract infections (UTI).
  • Employing staff with a history of negligence and/or abuse.
  • Failing to report abuse in an appropriate and timely manner.
  • Failing to prevent infectious disease.
  • Nurses failing to change gloves between patients, even when cleaning open wounds.

Nursing home negligence is a serious problem.  If you have a loved one in a nursing home and are concerned about negligence or abuse, it is important to get help right away.

Please contact us to learn more about how you can protect your loved one and get the justice your family deserves.

Significance of the Problem of Nursing Home Negligence

The significance of nursing home abuse and negligence is tremendous.  The population of Americans over 85 is expected to grow to more than 14-million by 2050.  That is a tremendous number of Americans needing long-term care, such as that provided by nursing homes.

Unfortunately, the number of Americans suffering abuse or neglect in nursing homes is even more striking.  Nursing homes should be places of comfort, care, and rest, but unfortunately, statistics show that across the U.S., there are millions of cases of abuse or neglect every year.  Many of the reports of abuse or neglect are very similar in nature to the ones identified in the investigation discussed above.

According to The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, the most common deficiencies in nursing homes that factor into abuse or neglect include:

  • Infection control
  • Accident environment
  • Food sanitation
  • Quality of care
  • Unnecessary drugs
  • Pharmacy consultation
  • Comprehensive care plans
  • Clinical records
  • Dignity
  • Qualified personnel

In addition to these noted deficiencies, it was further noted in 2014 that 20.5 percent, or one in five, facilities had reported deficiencies causing actual harm or jeopardy to residents.

Protecting Your Loved Ones from Abuse and Negligence

In 2014, there were 1.6 million certified beds in nursing homes across the U.S.  There are more than 1,200 such facilities in Texas alone.  With so many choices, and so many concerns, it can be overwhelming deciding what the best options are for your family.  How do you know that you are choosing a stable, safe facility? What about all the ratings and reviews online?

Keeping the most common deficiencies, and your biggest concerns, in mind, here are a few tips that can help you choose a nursing home that will provide your loved one with the quality care that he or she deserves.  When visiting prospective nursing homes, consider the following:

  • What do you see? Is the facility clean, well maintained, and free from obvious hazards or defects?
  • What do you smell? Sometimes there are unavoidable smells in nursing home facilities and an occasional whiff of something unpleasant may not indicate a problem. You should be cautious, however, if there is an overwhelming or persistent smell of urine, feces, or chemicals.
  • What do you hear? What sort of interactions do you hear between residents, staff, and nurses? Do you hear yelling, moaning, or other noises that suggest a resident is in pain or not being answered by staff? Are staff members behaving appropriately?
  • What are residents doing? Take notice of resident behavior on your visit. It is common to see small groups of residents sitting in public, dining, or activity areas.  Are they engaged? Do they seem content? Are staff members keeping an eye on them?
  • What is the food like? No one wants to eat food that is tasteless or colorless. Eat a meal while you are there and sample what the facility has to offer.  Ask about dietary plans and options for your loved one.
  • Are your questions being answered? While touring a prospective nursing home, your questions should be a priority for the staff. Ask questions that are direct and open-ended so you can assess whether the staff is knowledgeable about caring for residents.  If your questions are not being answered appropriately, or to your satisfaction, ask to speak to a supervisor or administrator.

Once you have visited prospective nursing homes and narrowed your options down, you may also find it helpful to contact local organizations that support the rights of the elderly, and the care they receive in nursing homes.  In Texas, these organizations include:

  • Texas Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman
  • Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services
  • Texas Adult Protective Services (APS)

Each of these organizations can help you determine which facility is best for your family.  Through these organizations, you also can find out if prospective facilities have any open complaints of abuse or neglect, or are under investigation for any reason.

Protecting Your Loved One’s Legal Rights

Whether you are looking into nursing home options, or have a loved one in a nursing home already, you need to be able to count on the knowledge and skills of trusted nursing home abuse attorneys.  Your loved one has the right to safe, quality care and we can help you be certain that these rights are being defended.  To learn more about nursing home abuse or neglect, how to report concerns, or your legal options to pursue justice, fill out our online form to schedule a free case review.

Sources:

  • http://ltcombudsman.org/uploads/files/library/deficiencies-09-14.pdf
  • http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/housing/info-03-2012/safe-nursing-home-questions-to-ask.html
  • http://www.cbs19.tv/news/investigations/cbs19-investigates/cbs19-investigates-east-texas-nursing-homes-cited-for-inappropriate-touching-negligence/343343242

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Nursing Home Substance Abuse http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/nursing-home-substance-abuse/ Fri, 23 Sep 2016 20:16:55 +0000 http://www.nursinghomeabuse.net/?p=2285 There is a common misconception that substance abuse is not a factor among people who are elderly or disabled. The fact is, nursing home substance abuse is a very real consideration, and one that is gaining increasing attention. Many nursing...Read More

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There is a common misconception that substance abuse is not a factor among people who are elderly or disabled. The fact is, nursing home substance abuse is a very real consideration, and one that is gaining increasing attention. Many nursing homes fail to address issues like substance abuse when they admit residents or create care plans. What’s more, some nursing homes fail to realize the importance of proper care and maintenance for these individuals, which can result in neglect or abuse.

Nursing Home Substance Abuse

Nursing Home Negligence and Substance Abuse Example

Consider, for example, a story that hit the media in September 2016 after a 43-year-old nursing home resident died from a Fentanyl overdose after being released from a Massachusetts nursing home. The man’s death came after seven months living in a nursing home following amputation of his left leg. According to his family, the recovering heroin addict had been given increasing doses of opioid medication while at the nursing home, and was not being provided substance abuse counseling.

Substance Abuse Across the Ages

Substance abuse touches every demographic, including elderly, disabled, and injured people. These individuals have the right to as much care and treatment as anyone else – a right which many believe is not being upheld. Cases like the one mentioned above are causing researchers and lawmakers to reassess what is being done to help individuals with substance abuse when they are living in nursing homes.

In July 2015, researchers at the federal Office of the Inspector General (OIG) discovered that millions of Americans are prescribed opioids through Medicare every year after age 65 – opioids that are commonly abused in the U.S. In fact, the OIG estimated that as many as one-third of all Medicare recipients had a prescription for opioids in 2015. Consider the following statistics about substance abuse among older Americans:

  • From 2002 to 2011, the number of adults 50-59 who abused illicit drugs increased from 2.7 percent to 6.3 percent.
  • It is estimated that 14-20 percent of the elderly population suffer from substance abuse or a mental disorder.
  • Among adults 65 and over, 8.3 percent admit to binge drinking, while two percent admit to heavy drinking.
  • Alcohol, opiates, cocaine, and marijuana are the most commonly abused substances by elderly Americans. This is followed by benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety and anti-depressants) and sleeping pills.
  • Women outnumber men in terms of abusing prescription medications, with 44 and 23 percent respectively estimated to use prescription drugs for non-medical use.

Importance of Substance Abuse Treatment in Nursing Homes

Substance abuse treatment is a serious concern for nursing homes all across the U.S. Between 2010 and 2030, the population of Americans over 65 is estimated to rise to 72.1 million. As the “baby boomer” demographic considers long-term care, nursing homes, and Medicare benefits, it is more important than ever that nursing homes prepare for managing the population who will, undoubtedly, include individuals who are addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Unfortunately, most nursing homes are ill-prepared for such residents, or because they are unsure of federal regulations, they simply deny individuals with substance abuse problems. Then there are cases of nursing home negligence where the nursing home simply fails to uphold its legal and ethical obligations. So what are families to do when they need additional support?

Support for Families Touched by Substance Abuse

If you are looking for a nursing home for an elderly loved one, and you know that he or she is battling addiction or substance abuse, you may be lost at where to begin. No one wants to consider that nursing home negligence or abuse could touch their lives, but it is a very real concern. How do you filter through the numerous possibilities, screen potential caregivers, and ensure that your loved one is getting the care he or she deserves? Here are some helpful tips that may help you answer these questions, feel more confident about your search, and get you the help you need:

  • Full Disclosure – When you meet with a prospective nursing home, fully disclose your situation and your loved one’s needs. Not only is this best in order to ensure that the facility can accommodate your loved one, but it could avoid a potential nightmare if you withhold uncomfortable information and then your loved one is evicted because of their situation. Always fully disclose situations like:
    • A loved one who self-medicates with alcohol, marijuana, or other substances (advisable if the substances are illegal or not).
    • A loved one who is current in counseling, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or a rehabilitation program.
    • A loved one with a history of falls when taking certain medications, or while consuming alcohol.
    • A loved one with a history of depression, personality disorder, or mental health conditions.
  • Community Support – Just because you disclosed your situation does not mean that a nursing home can or will accept your loved one as a resident. If you are unsuccessful in your search, consider utilizing community support options. Some of the most utilized organizations include:
    • The Agency on Aging
    • Long-Term Care Ombudsman
    • American Health Care Association
    • The Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living
  • Legal Support – Any time you feel like your loved one’s rights have been violated – be it through nursing home negligence, unlawful eviction, or abuse of any kind, you may also find it helpful to speak with a nursing home abuse attorney. These specialized attorneys can help you understand your loved one’s legal rights, and are excellent advocates to ensure your loved one is properly cared for. In the event that your situation warrants legal action, attorneys who specialize in nursing home negligence are a valuable asset in protecting your rights and seeking justice.

 

Sources:

  • https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/09/10/neglected-peril-substance-abuse-nursing-homes/XpTd53Hl1b7Sx6csij8GVJ/story.html

  • http://www.seniorhomes.com/w/finding-care-for-an-elderly-parent-with-substance-abuse-what-are-my-options/

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