Articles Posted in Nursing Home Negligence

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918333_u_s__capitol_building sxchu username sloneckerA bill that was overwhelmingly passed by the United States House of Representatives in March would provide physicians in Indiana and throughout the country with additional and likely unnecessary protections against medical malpractice claims. Under the bill, patients would be prohibited from introducing evidence in a malpractice lawsuit regarding a doctor’s federal performance ratings that are now required under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and Medicare. Interestingly, the language of the bill is almost identical to that advocated for by medical professionals and their insurers.

Currently, physicians are required to report information used to evaluate the quality of care they provide to federally insured patients based on a scale of zero to 100. Sample questions include how many patients receive smoking cessation counseling or become infected following a surgical procedure. Those performance measures are then used to calculate the rate at which each medical professional is paid by a federal insurer. In addition, some private insurers have transitioned towards using a performance-based payment system as well. The nation’s Secretary of Health and Human Services recently announced that her goal was to ensure all Medicare payments would be tied to the treating doctor’s quality measures within the next three years.

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file000848537366-2 morguefile username claritaThe Supreme Court of Indiana has ruled that the statute of limitations may be tolled due to fraudulent concealment in a wrongful death case. In Alldredge v. Good Samaritan Home, Inc., a woman who was apparently prone to falls resided at an Evansville skilled nursing facility. In November 2006, the woman purportedly suffered a fall-related head injury at the facility and died as a result. Three years later, a former nursing home employee allegedly told the deceased woman’s family that she fell as a result of an attack by another facility resident.

In 2011, the woman’s estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the skilled nursing facility. In its complaint, the estate accused the nursing home of causing the woman’s death and fraudulently concealing the facility’s own negligence. The nursing home filed a motion to dismiss the estate’s lawsuit, arguing it was filed after the statute of limitations had run.  Normally, a plaintiff who fails to file a lawsuit with the appropriate court prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations is permanently barred from recovery. The nursing facility also argued that a fraudulent concealment claim cannot toll, or extend, the statute of limitations in an Indiana wrongful death case.

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file000894188453 morguefile cohdraIn Kindred Nursing v. Estate of McGoffney, a woman executed a durable power of attorney that named one of her two daughters as her attorney-in-fact. In September 2008, the woman entered an Indiana nursing home. About one month later, the woman revoked her original power of attorney. She then signed a new document naming her other daughter her attorney-in-fact. In January 2009, the woman’s original attorney-in-fact asked a Vigo County Probate Court to appoint her the guardian of her mother. The woman’s current agent opposed her sister’s request. After reviewing the situation, the probate court instead appointed the woman’s current attorney-in-fact to act as her guardian. A few months later, the woman was removed from the nursing home.

In late 2010, the woman’s former agent filed a proposed medical malpractice lawsuit against the skilled nursing facility on behalf of her mother in Vigo Superior Court. A few months later, the probate court issued an order stating the woman’s guardian had waived her right to file such a case and held that the plaintiff was entitled to sue on her mother’s behalf. After the nursing home unsuccessfully petitioned the probate court to withdraw its order, the facility filed a motion to dismiss the action with the superior court. According to the nursing home, the plaintiff was not authorized to bring the case on her mother’s behalf. In December 2011, the superior court granted the facility’s motion and dismissed the daughter’s proposed medical malpractice complaint.

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Bedsores. The term may sound relatively harmless, but this condition can lead to serious complications or death if not discovered and treated in time. When a person is immobile, areas of the body that are in contact with a mattress or wheelchair can be damaged due to a lack of blood circulation.

This is why nursing home residents with mobility problems need to be repositioned frequently and closely monitored. Unfortunately, many nursing homes neglect to do so. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control found that 11 percent of nursing home residents suffer from pressure ulcers, which typically appear on the elbow, heel, tailbone or hip — areas that are not protected by muscle or fat. The weight of an immobile body can compress blood vessels in these areas, causing the tissue to die. Bedsores may present as a reddened or discolored surface abrasion, but can quickly progress if not treated. Possible complications include:

  • Cellulitis — an acute infection of skin and underlying tissue
  • Tissue necrosis, which spreads rapidly and can be fatal
  • Bone or joint infection
  • Gangrene, caused by introduction of Clostridium bacteria into the body
  • Sepsis, which progresses rapidly and can cause organ failure
  • Cancerous carcinoma

These complications require hospitalization and an extensive — and expensive — wound care regimen. However, nursing homes have a duty to prevent pressure sores from occurring in the first place. They can do so by implementing these simple, cost-effective measures:

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A short time ago, we published a blog about good nursing homes not allowing residents to wander off and included questions you should ask when interviewing nursing home directors. In line with this topic of choosing high quality nursing homes and avoiding substandard facilities, here is some additional information to assist you.

US News released an article about a rating system used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Nursing homes rated with five stars show top ratings for:

  • Their nursing staff
  • Their quality of health care
  • Results from health inspections

Approximately 22 percent of Indiana nursing homes achieved five-star rankings.

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Growing up is hard. Since the day you were born, your parents raised you and provided for all of your needs. Now the shoe is on the other foot and your parents need you to take care of them. For many families with parents in need of care, it is just not feasible to bring their parents to live in their homes. However, it is frightening to leave them in the care of total strangers. If you think your parents are being mistreated, Merrillville nursing home negligence attorneys can help you determine if you have a case.

One of the more common ailments affecting nursing home residents is pressure sores, commonly known as “bedsores.” Bedsores are injuries to skin and underlying tissues that result from prolonged pressure on the skin ― usually where it covers bony areas of the body, such as the heel, ankles, hips or buttocks. To prevent bedsores, it is best if a nursing home resident can stay active, but if that is not feasible, there are other strategies. The Mayo Clinic recommends repositioning as the most effective way to avoid bedsores. For those in wheelchairs, repositioning should take place as much as every 15 minutes, while for those in beds, every two hours. Wheelchairs and beds can be supplemented with special cushions to relieve some of the pressure, and bony areas can be covered with padding as well. Another important tactic is appropriate skin care, including bathing and moisturizing. Before choosing a nursing home, you may want to ask the staff how they identify if a resident is at risk for skin injuries and what they do to prevent them.

No institution will give your parents the high level of care that you may be able to provide. But that doesn’t mean your elderly parents need to suffer unnecessarily in a nursing home. If you suspect that your loved ones are being neglected, Indiana pressure injury attorneys can help you determine if you have a case.

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When you entrust a parent to the care of a nursing home, you expect them to get loving care and full-time supervision. You don’t expect your beloved parents to be wandering the city streets alone. Indiana nursing home wandering and elopement lawyers can help you file a case when your parents are not getting the care and attention they deserve.

There are a number of questions you can ask the nursing home director before choosing a facility for your parents:

  • Is the home licensed? What about the director and the staff?
  • Does the staff undergo abuse prevention training? Do they run background checks on all employees?
  • What level of autonomy do residents have? Can they make their own meals or choose their own activities?
  • Does the facility accept Medicaid?
  • Do the same caregivers work with the same residents on a daily basis?
  • What are the procedures in place for emergency medical situations?
  • Are residents allowed outside of the facility on their own? If not, what safeguards are in place to keep them from wandering off the grounds?

Asking questions is an important first step before choosing a nursing home for your elderly parents. But sometimes it is not enough. If you think your parents are being mistreated, contact a nursing home negligence lawyer to help you determine if you have a case.

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Many seniors are prescribed drugs to assist with physical ailments and deficiencies that are incidental to age. Families trust their doctors to prescribe and administer medications appropriately and only out of necessity. Sadly, a new study shows that their confidence may be misplaced.

After reviewing more than 6 million Medicare Advantage records from across the country for the year 2009, researchers at Brown University revealed startling news about prescription medication in the United States. The findings of the study include the following:

  • Approximately one in five seniors in the United States received a prescription for a drug considered harmful or dangerous for their age group.
  • The provision of dangerous drugs to seniors followed a geographic pattern. Seniors living in the South received more risky drugs. Elderly patients in Albany, Georgia were found most likely to be prescribed a dangerous drug; patients living in Worcester, Massachusetts were least likely.
  • More than 21 percent of senior patients received one harmful drug and approximately 4 percent received two.

The rate of prescription of dangerous drugs to Indiana seniors varied from 9 percent to 30 percent, depending on the area of the state. Researchers used a list provided by the National Committee for Quality Assurance to evaluate the safety of medications prescribed to seniors. While drugs on the list are commonly prescribed to younger adults, the unique challenges of an aging body make drugs referenced on the list hazardous to the elderly.

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Choosing a nursing home facility for a loved one is an emotional and daunting challenge, but reliable information always helps. Family members armed with a list of observations and what to ask administrators make better decisions. Let’s start with observations.

When entering the nursing home:

  • Are there handrails along the walls?
  • Are the doorways wheelchair-accessible?
  • Is the floor dry and free of litter?
  • Does the facility appear clean?
  • Is there any pervasive odor, apart from disinfectant?
  • Is the temperature comfortable?
  • Do the toilets, faucets, call buttons, telephones, and television sets work?

Take a look at the nursing home staff: