Articles Posted in Nursing Home Neglect

A caregiver at the Cascades of Bremerton Retire Community is being investigated for elder abuse after a fellow employee reported her to police after allegedly witnessing the employee abusing elderly dementia patients and treating them “roughly.”

The Central Kitsap Reporter reports that the Bremerton City Police started the investigation after a female worker reported witnessing her co-worker covering the mouths and noses of some elderly patients to prevent them from speaking. She also said she witnessed the worker stepping on patients’ feet and poking them in the forehead or neck.

The worker is accused of abusing dementia patients between 91 and 94. She is now on paid leave while the allegations are investigated.

The executive director of the Willows Retirement Living Community said that so far the investigations are inconclusive.

Mandatory Reporter Law

The abuse claims have been referred to Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office as required by Washington State’s Mandatory Reporter Law for the Elderly and Disabled. The law requires law enforcement officers; social workers; employees of social service, welfare, mental health, adult day care, home health, home care or hospice agency; county coroner or medical examiner; people working in the healthcare field including physicians, psychologists, nurses, etc. to act as Mandatory Reporters make a report to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) if they believe that abuse, abandonment, financial exploitation or neglect of a vulnerable adult has occurred. In addition, they are required to also report to local law enforcement agencies if they suspect a sexual or violent assault.

One is not required to have absolute proof to report suspected abuse and reports can be made anonymously.
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The family of William A. Kahle, 47, a mentally impaired resident of the Hillcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, has filed suit against the facility alleging that the home failed to protect their son and other patients from a resident who was predatory.

In their lawsuit, Kahle’s family alleges that William was attacked and burnt by another resident.

When the Department of Public Health investigated the attack on Kahle, they discovered that another 23 residents had been subjected to some form of sexual, mental or physical abuse by another resident at the facility around the same time that Kahle was injured.

The investigation found that one resident, a 26-year-old man with bipolar and ADHD was responsible for the attacks on up to two dozen residents.

In their lawsuit, Kahle’s family alleges that the nursing home was both negligent in allowing the abuse to happen and failing to report it.

Owners or employees of adult family homes, nursing homes or boarding homes are considered to be Mandatory Reporters and they are required by law to report to law enforcement knowledge or suspicions that a vulnerable adult is a victim of abuse, neglect, abandonment or financial exploitation. A mandatory reporter who fails to report nursing home abuse or neglect may may be liable under civil law for damages resulting from the abuse or neglect.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), only one in 14 actual incidents of elder abuse is reported. Every year between 1 and 2 million Americans over the age of 65 are subjected to some type of elder abuse by a person who they depend on for care.

Symptoms of elder abuse can include falls, fractures, bedsores, medication areas, bruising, and wandering off. While most nursing homes provide a good standard of care, some, due to inadequate staffing, training or background checks may not provide adequate care resulting in jury to the residents.
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A convicted sex offender who was released from a state penitentiary and moved to a nursing home has been returned to an Iowa Correctional Facility and stands trial for allegedly for sexually assaulting an elderly woman in the nursing home.

William Cubbage, a repeat sex offender with charges spanning nearly 60 years, was allowed to enter the Pomeroy Care Center, an elderly care facility, when he was released from the penitentiary after serving nine years there. A state psychologist had said that the state believed that Cubbage had molested a “large number of female children” that he had never been charged with victimizing and recommended against him being released. However, state officials deemed Cubbage as unlikely to sexually re-offend due to his age, which is 83.

Cubbage was re-arrested after an 8-year-old girl visiting someone at the nursing home reported that she had seem him molesting an elderly woman who was reportedly telling him, “no, no no!” The woman had physical injuries to substantiate the abuse charge.

This apparently was not the only incident in which he accosted other residents in the nursing home. He also reportedly chased children in the facility when they were there with a school group visiting residents.

It is very troubling that a convicted sex offender be allowed to enter a nursing home to prey on vulnerable residents and have access to children who might be visiting, especially against the advice of two state psychological examiners. It seems like many systems here have failed to both protect nursing home residents but to protect children as well.

A report in The Register says that there were 27 sex offenders living in care facilities in Iowa alone. one wonders if the State is dumping sex offenders on nursing homes who ill-equipped to monitor them.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent residents of nursing homes who have been subjected to abuse or neglect.

Source: DeMoines Register “Register exclusive: Sex offender back in locked unit” , 11/19/11
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Marie-Therese Connolly, the director of Life Long Justice,a non-profit which works to protect the elderly, describes the sometimes hidden signs of elder abuse. She says bruises in unlikely places such as the bottom of the feet, genitalia, head, neck and inner thigh can often be a sign of elder abuse.

Other signs of elder abuse can include unexplained urinary tract infections, falls and bed sores.

Life long Justice provides some chilling numbers about elder abuse. According to their web-site:

  • up to 11% of people ages 60 and over are victims or elder abuse, neglect or exploitation
  • Nearly 50% of dementia patients that live at home are abused or neglected
  • Elder abuse is grossly under-reported, LLJ say that for every reported case, 23.5 cases are not reported.
  • 50-90% of nursing homes do not have adequate staffing which can lead to neglect.

Connolly, who recently was named a MacArthur fellow, is working to educate the medical professionals and the public the signs of elder abuse. She advances the use of forensics and research so that abuse can be detected and responded to. She says:

 “Advancing forensic knowledge is important so social and protective services workers, physicians, emergency room personnel and prosecutors know what to look for and what kinds of questions to ask about injuries.”

For more information, see the Life Long Justice web-site.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent the victims of elder abuse and their families.

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Voters in every county in Washington state voted for Initiative 1163 which would more than double the training requirement for long-term healthcare workers from 34 to 75 hours.

The Initiative also requires criminal background checks of workers and also require that they be certified.

The Farber Law Group was in support of this initiative. It is important that people working with some of our most vulnerable citizens, the elderly and disabled, have a high degree of professionalism and training. A Department of Health and Human Services study recently sampled 260 nursing homes and found that, of the 260 nursing homes sampled, that almost all had one more criminal convictions.

Criminal background check of prospective employee will help prevent nursing homes from hiring those that have been previously found guilty of abusing, neglecting or mistreating the residents under their care.

Nursing home patients often are victims of both abuse and exploitation. Nursing home abuse is a serious problem and it can include sexual abuse, bedsores, and neglect.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been victims of nursing home abuse and their families.

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A West Virginia awarded the family of Dorothy Douglas, who died after serious nursing home neglect, a $91.5M wrongful death settlement.

It is likely that the ruling will be appealed to the West Virginia Supreme court who will decided whether the settlement amount is subject to medical liability caps.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Tom Douglas, the son of Dorothy Day, who died in 2010 of severe dehydration and neglect in a nursing home. The lawsuit claimed that the lack of hydration led to Dorothy Day’s death. The suit was filed against Manor Care, Inc. HCR Manor Care Services Inc., Healthcare and Retirement Corporation of America, LLC, and Heartland Employment Services LLC.

According to Tom Douglas, Dorothy was ambulatory and communicative when she entered the nursing home. Within 20 days, her condition had deteriorated and she was comatose, unable to communicate and was not longer able to feed herself.

According to the trial transcripts, Tom tried to transfer his mother out of the nursing facility but the facility could not get the paperwork right.

In making this large award, the jury awarded $11 million for the wrongful death of Dorothy Douglas. The remaining $80 million was a punitive award, to punish the nursing home for their intentional misconduct. The jury was clearly sending a message that the treatment of Douglas was unacceptable and they wanted to punish the nursing home to prevent future abuse and deaths.

The question that will probably be decided by the Supreme Court is whether medical liability caps should apply in this case. This is a contentions issue. In 2003, the West Virginia legislature created a statute which placed medical liability caps on awards. The attorney for Douglas’ family says the punitive portion of the award is not subject to a medical malpractice cap.

Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms. Dehydration and malnutrition are two serious signs. Other serious signs can include bedsores or decubitus ulcers, aspiration pneumonia and contractures. Washington state has a wrongful death statute which allows the family member of a person who has died due to nursing home neglect or abuse to seek compensation in civil court on behalf of their deceased loved one.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent victims of nursing home abuse and the family of those who have died. With our help, you may recover compensation for your damages.

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Every year in the U.S., hospital-acquired infections are factors in the deaths of nearly 100,000 Americans. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 1.7 million Americans acquire an infection of some sort in the hospital. To put it in persective, 1 in 20 patients in the hospital will pick up an infection. This is a huge problem across the nation as many of the infections are antibiotic resistant.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times reports on a California-initiative to bring down the number of hospital-acquired infections to save lives and to save money. It is estimated that hospital-acquired infections adds $600 million to California health care costs each year.

Many, if not most, hospital-acquired infections can be prevented because they are transmitted when doctors, nurses and other hospital staff do not practice correct hygiene and transmit disease from patient-to-patient. Common hospital infections include ventilator-associated pneumonia; staphylococcus aureus; tuberculosis; urinary tract infection; hospital-acquired pneumonia; Methicillin-resisten Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA); and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) are some of the most common infections.

Fighting infection can sometimes be pretty low tech such as frequent hand washing. Medical personnel should wash their hands between patient contacts and after contacts with items contaminated with blood, bodily fluids or equipment. Though hand washing may seem simple, it must be done correctly.

Requiring hospital personnel to be to be vaccinated for common diseases such as hepatitis B, influenza and chicken pox is another fairly straight-forward solution.

Another low-tech infection prevention device is the tooth brush. Making sure that ill patients get their teeth brushed can go a along way to preventing pneumonia as bacteria can build up in a patient’s mouth. The Times article said that with a routine of teeth brushing and hydrogen peroxide swabbing of ventilator patient’s mouths, the rate of ventilator infections went down from 18 to 0 in a one-year period in one hospital.

Sterilization also plays a key role in infection prevention. Equipment and items that patients and medical staff come into contact with can prevent transmission. Sterilization can be done with chemicals, dry heat, steam under pressure or radiation.

One preventative measure that many patients can take is check the infection rate of the hospital where an elective surgery will take place. The Washington State Department of Health provides a website with information about the state’s Healthcare Associated Infections Program. This information provides patients with data to make healthcare decisions.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We are a personal injury law firm with offices in Seattle and Bellevue and we represent victims of medical malpractice and their family.

Source: Hospital-related infections drop under California initiative, Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2011
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We came across an article today from New Zealand today that had figures from their state Accident Compensation Corporation that found that 7,600 people are injured every year due to falling out of bed. While the majority of people who fall out of beds are small children and the elderly, 23% of those injured were people between the ages of 25 and 64.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that every year over 400,000 are injured so seriously that they require hospital admission. For the frail elderly, a bed fall can result in a broken hip or a head trauma which can be very a serious injury and can even result in death.

Falls are a particular problem in nursing homes where as many as 3 out of 4 residents fall every year and often residents suffer an average of a couple of falls per year.

Nursing home falls can be caused by muscle weakness and problems with gait (24%); environmental hazards including wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height (16-27%),; medications that affect the nervous system, and other problems such as when moving a patient from bed to chair, poorly fitting shoes and improper use of canes and walkers.

Most nursing homes have fall prevention plans including:

  • assessing patients for their fall risk
  • educating staff
  • implementing exercise programs which can increase a patient’s strength, balance and ability to walk and function
  • reviewing medications and minimizing use where appropriate
  • improving the nursing home environment by making sure there is adequate lighting, raised toilet seats, handrails in hallways, etc
  • installing fall alarms which can alert staff when an at-risk patient is trying to get out of bed without help

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent victims of nursing home neglect and their families.

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The U.S. Government & Accountability Office just released a study that looked at differences between for-profit and non-profit nursing homes. What they found was that for-profit nursing home were more likely to have serious deficiencies which posed actual harm or immediate jeopardy to residents than non-profit nursing homes, resulting in nursing home neglect.

The GAO study examined how nursing homes that were acquired by private investment forms differed from other nursing homes in three areas:

  1. deficiencies cited on state surveys
  2. nurse staffing levels financial performance

The study found that nursing homes acquired by private investors effected cost-cutting measures which reflected on the quality of nursing care and the ratio of skilled nursing care to residents were cut after the nursing home acquisition. The resulting effect is that vulnerable adults received less care, often to their detriment.

One area in which PI firms seemed to spend money was on the capital expenses which increased the attractiveness of the home to attract higher paying residents. However, these types of changes did not relate to the bottom line care to the residents.

It is no surprise that for-profit nursing homes owned by PI works to maximize profit to provide a returns for investors and owners. At for-profit homes, they work hard to minimize costs which often relates to trimming staff.

At The Farber Law Group, we have found in our 30 year career of representing victims of nursing home neglect that often the for-profit nature of a nursing home often results in less care for the patient. When we see cases of severe bedsores, falls resulting in hip fractures or even physical or sexual abuse, we often find the cause is that there was not enough trained supervision of patients.

If you have a loved one who was seriously injured or died due to nursing home staff negligence or abuse, contact The Farber Law Group, a Bellevue law firm specializing in nursing home abuse and neglect cases.

Source:
Nursing Homes: Private Investment Homes Sometimes Differed from Others in Deficiencies, Staffing, and Financial Performance; U.S. Government Accountability Office; July 15, 2001
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The Issaquah Reporter says that an Issaquah insurance agent is accused of first-degree theft in bilking elderly victims between the ages of 74 to 90 of money from their Bankers Life annuities. The insurance agent, who will not be named until she is charged, is accused of stealing more than $1 million to fund a lavish life style including clothes, jewelry, a trip and payments to online psychics.

The alleged thefts include:

  • $130K taken from a Bellevue man, 80
  • $25K from a Renton woman, 90
  • $60K from a Seattle man
  • $484,500K form a Renton woman, 74.

The agent’s scheme included having the victims write checks that they thought were investing in Bankers Life but instead she had the victims write the initial and surnames of her two daughters, deposited the checks and then transferred the money into her own account.

The Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said:

“Vulnerable people trusted this agent with much of their life’s saving. And she just pocked the money.”

The Insurance Commissioner says that one tipoff that a broker or agent has deceived a consumer for personal gain is if the client does not receive an insurance ID card or a copy of the policy.

Financial abuse is one form of elder abuse. At The Farber Law Group, we represent victims of elder abuse including nursing home neglect.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent nursing home abuse victims and their families.

Source:
Police allege insurance agent stole $1 million from elderly By CELESTE GRACEY Issaquah Reporter Staff Writer

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