Arbitration Clauses Allow for Continued Nursing Home Abuse

new jersey philadelphia nursing home abuse attorneys mandatory arbitration agreementsCongress is considering the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2009, which would invalidate mandatory arbitration agreements in nursing homes. This is an important law that needs to be passed in order to advance in the fight against nursing home abuse.

Nursing homes make you sign a mandatory arbitration agreement when they accept your loved one for admission. Initially, nursing homes win you over with their promises of good, attentive, compassionate, and empathetic care. The last thing you are thinking about at that time is a nursing home abuse lawsuit. If, however, your family does find itself in the midst of injuries suffered by your loved due to nursing home abuse and neglect, you bet that nursing home will be quick to remind you of the mandatory arbitration agreement they made you sign. This agreement means you cannot sue the facility. Since the nursing home has eliminated the chance a jury could punish them for providing the bad care that injured your loved one, the nursing home had very little incentive to make sure they provided good care. When your family wants to know how your loved one was injured, the promises made during admission will be replaced with excuses. Excuses cannot return your loved one’s dignity, or the pain these injuries force your loved one to endure during their limited remaining days on this earth. The nursing home also has little incentive to make sure it does not happen to the next family in your position, because they will be forced to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement too.

How does this happen?

You can’t provide the care and support your loved one needs, and you arrive at the realization you must place them in a nursing home. The reason may be for long term care, although hopefully it is for rehabilitation with the goal of sending them back home. You choose a nursing home to place your loved one. When signing the package of numerous documents presented to you during the admission process (picture all of the documents you signed when you bought your first house being presented to you one after the other), you will eventually be presented with a mandatory arbitration agreement. Unfortunately, few people understand what they are signing, or why they are signing it.

Many nursing home admissions are directly from a hospital, and occur after a medical emergency such as a stroke or broken hip. Families often have no choice but to accept the first available nursing home with an available bed. When families unknowingly sign away their right to sue the nursing home, they believe they will get the good care they are promised. The last thing on their mind is that the nursing homes will injure their loved one by allowing pressure sores that lead to infections and amputation of limbs; suffocation on bedrails and other restraining devices; serious fractures from preventable falls; physical and sexual assault; renal failure from dehydration; malnutrition; medication errors; and death from fires in unsafe buildings.

Mandatory Arbitration Agreements are Unfair

Now that you know what a mandatory arbitration agreement is, and what it means to the family of an abused nursing home resident, ask yourself if that is fair. What does it say to you about an industry that promises good care and at the same time asks you to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement that protects them from being held accountable for bad care? Nursing homes know that if a court upholds a mandatory arbitration agreement, a jury with the power to punish the nursing home for often deplorable conduct will never have a chance to hurt their nursing home in the only place that matters to them – the pocketbook.
The Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act would end the practice of making families agree to give up the right to a jury trial in order to get their loved one accepted by a nursing home. Congress should send a message to the industry that injuring residents is not simply a cost of doing business. Compassion should be enough of a reason for a nursing home to provide the good care they promise. Since the industry has proven time and a gain that they will not do this voluntarily, Congress must keep open the only avenue that does hold them accountable – a jury who can listens to the evidence and judge their conduct.

NJ and PA Nursing Home Abuse and Wrongful Death Attorneys

If you or a loved one have suffered the effects of nursing negligence or abuse, call an experienced New Jersey or Pennsylvania Nursing Home Abuse attorney at the Mininno Law Office. We will work hard to get you to compensation you deserve!
Contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation or call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.

Nursing Home Negligence Ends in Resident Disappearance and Large Verdict

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Ruby Larson disappeared in July, 2007 from the Pheasant Point Retirement and Assisted Living Facility in Molalla, Oregon.
The Pheasant Point Retirement and Asisted Living Residence in Molalla, Oregon was home to 75 year old Ruby Larson. Ruby was admitted to the home in May of 2007, suffering from dementia, short-term memory loss, and disorientation. She had no recollection of her own medical needs, and had a history of wandering off.
The staff at Pheasant Point was aware of Ruby’s condition, as well as the inherent risks associated with it. During her stay there, Ruby wandered off 4 seperate times. The fourth time, July 23, 2007, she never returned. Teams from three surrounding counties searched and found nothing. She was declared legally dead by judge’s order in 2008.

Ruby’s son, David Buoy, filed a $2 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against the Molalla retirement home, accusing the facility of nursing home negligence and improper care towards his mother.
His attorney, Phil Leubbers, named Pheasant Point and it’s parent company, Spectrum Retirement Communities, in the suit. Among it’s many allegations of nursing home neglect, the suit also alleges that Pheasant Point was slow to act on Ruby’s dissappearance, taking their time before reporting her absence to police.

Three Years Later, Her Body is Found

In May 2010, Ruby Larson’s body was discovered amidst blackberry bushes in a field just a quarter mile away from the facility. Her body was fully clothed and found by a 4 year old child who was searching for his missing cat.

On October 4, 2010, Ruby’s family was awarded $821,000 by a Multnomah County jury. They returned an 11-1 verdict for negligence. Attorneys for Pheasant Point and Spectrum Retirement maintain that “. . . no one did anything wrong here. Ruby Larson lived the life she wanted to live.”

NJ and PA Nursing Home Abuse and Wrongful Death Attorneys

Ruby Larson’s death was brought on by continued negligence and repeated failure on the part of Pheasant Point to protect Ruby from herself. The state she was in required caretakers to pay close attention to her and prevent her from disappearing. They failed 4 times to keep her inside the facility, and the last time was deadly.

If you or a loved one have suffered the effects of nursing negligence or abuse, call an experienced New Jersey or Pennsylvania Nursing Home Abuse attorney at the Mininno Law Office. We will work hard to get you to compensation you deserve!
Contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation or call for a free consultation at 856-833-0600 in New Jersey, or 215-567-2380 in Philadelphia.

Disclosure of Large Medical Malpractice Events Uncommon

An article published in the September issue of the New England Journal of Medicine included the results of research done, that claimed that disclosure of medical malpractice that affects individual patients is becoming more common among health care organizations.
However, the disclosure of Large Scale Adverse Events, or LSAEs, does not happen as often. LSAEs can include incompletely sterilized surgical tools, poor lab quality control, or equipment malfunctions.

new jersey philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys large scale disclosure events AHRQ LSAE mininnoThe Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, or the AHRQ, funded the research into the disclosure practices of hospitals and private practices. AHRQ director Carolyn Clancy, M.D. said of the results:

It’s clear that health care organizations face a dilemma regarding disclosure of large-scale adverse events whether these events lead to patient harm or not. It’s not always clear how to do that in a way that minimizes risk to the patient and the organization, but this research can help.

Questions arise when considering the disclosure of medical malpractice on this large scale. Is it ethical to disclose the event in a case where patients were unlikely to be physically harmed, but may be psychologically harmed by the disclosure? Based on the research, the AHRQ decided that events should always be disclosed, and offered the following suggestions for health care organizations to apply:

Develop an Institutional Policy – A health care organization should have a clear set of guidelines for disclosure management.

Plan for Disclosures – Disclosures should be made pro-actively, and patients should be told personally and simultaneously.

Communicate with the Public – Health care organizations should understand that media coverage of a large scale adverse event is unavoidable. To gain the trust of it’s public, that organization should provide a media response that shows it’s committed to honesty and patient safety.

Plan for Patient Follow-Up – Organizations should provide follow-up diagnostic tests to patients effected by the LSAE. All anxiety resulting for the disclosure of LSAE should be addressed as well. Patients who were physically harmed by an LSAE should be compensated.

Medical Malpractice in NJ or PA: Mininno Law Office

Have you been physically harmed by any form of medical malpractice at a health care organization? Did this event go undisclosed? If so, you’ll need to seek the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney. The team at the Mininno Law Office is prepared to work hard to earn you the compensation you deserve.
Contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation, or call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.

Traumatic Brain Injury Keeps Ian Laperriere off the Ice Indefinitely

In honor of the Philadelphia Flyers’ Season Opener tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins, today’s blog will focus on the traumatic brain injury Ian Laperriere received last season in round one of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New Jersey Devils. In the third period of Game 5, Ian Laperriere took a slapshot to the face by New Jersey defenseman Paul Martin.

“He was hit above the right eyebrow, suffering a gash that required 60-70 stitches. He said he did not believe he suffered a head injury, but vowed never to play another game without a visor.”

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NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 22: Ian Laperriere #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers reacts after being injured in the third period by Paul Martin of the New Jersey Devils in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

At first, doctors said there was no effect to Lappy’s brain. A second scan revealed a brain contusion, which is essentially a bruise on the brain.
No one expected Laperriere to return to the post season. He missed all 7 games of the Semifinals against the Boston Bruins, and, to everyone’s surprise, rejoined the roster on May 22nd in game 1 of the Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens.

Today, Ian Laperriere is facing retirement because of the injuries he sustained 3 minutes and 56 seconds into the third period of game 5 on April 22, 2010.

It is clear now that his return to the game last post season was far too early, probably brought on by a management staff that didn’t want to lose a star player, and a dedicated hockey player downplaying the severity of his symptoms.

Doctors have advised the 36 year old father of two to retire because of nerve damage done to his eye, and the post-concussion syndrome he is now suffering from.
Lappy seems to agree with them:

When I get the lights going and there is movement around me, it gets worse and worse and I feel like I’m not myself. That’s what scares me, and that’s why I can’t play. They don’t want me to get hit again and I don’t want to get hit. If I feel this bad right now, how will I feel on my next hit? If I’m not sharp out there, especially with my game, I’m going to get killed.” Ian Laperriere

He is out indefinately this season, and no one knows what he will do concerning the rest of his career. It’s hard to see that he can’t play, as he has tremendous skill and even more heart. As Flyers fans, we want him to return to the game, but not at the expense of his life.

Traumatic Brain Injuries can be devastating. Ian Laperriere could be looking at the end of his career, as so many other athletes have after blows the head.

Traumatic Brain Injury: Are you a Victim?

Have you or a loved one suffered from a traumatic brain injury? Was it due to someone else’s negligence? Are you now facing physical limitations and medical bills you are not prepare to handle? Contact a traumatic brain injury attorney at the Mininno Law Office: our hard work and dedication will be necessary to get you the compensation you deserve.

Contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation or call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.

Video: Lappy Takes Slapshot to the Face (Don’t watch if you are squeamish)

Nursing Home Abuse Prevention: Good Communication is Key

new jersey philadelphia nursing home abuse attorneys good communication negligence injuryI have spoken with hundreds of families to discuss whether they can sue for nursing home abuse. Bad, negligent, and abusive care at a nursing home can lead to a number of injuries, including – preventable falls and fractures, bedsores, medication errors, unfulfilled doctor’s orders, and sexual and physical assaults by staff and other residents.
The biggest complaint I hear from these families is that the nursing home does not properly communicate with them or their loved one’s physician. This is troubling for many reasons:

  1. Families expect good communication, and often operate under the assumption that no communication from the staff means no issues for their loved one.
  2. A nursing home resident’s primary care physician is usually limited to one visit to the nursing home per month. Your loved one’s doctor counts on the trained, professional staff at a nursing homes to be their eyes and ears, promptly identifying and communicating potential issues before they get worse.
  3. Nursing homes complain about the cost of many different preventative measures – but good communication does not cost them any extra money.
  4. Nursing homes are required to communicate with family members and physicians by state law.
  5. Good communication between the resident’s good care circle – the nursing home staff / the resident’s family / and the resident’s physician – is the simplest way to prevent the worst nursing home injuries abuse.

New Jersey State law REQUIRES:
(c) The facility shall notify any family promptly of an emergency affecting the health or safety of a resident.
(d) The facility shall notify the attending physician or advanced practice nurse promptly of significant changes in the resident’s medical condition.
[N.J.A.C. 8:39-13.1.]

Why don’t nursing homes always follow this law?

That is a question for which I never seem to get a straight answer whenever I depose a nursing home employee in a nursing home abuse case. I think the answer can be as simple as: they forget, they are lazy, or they are overworked. It could also be as complicated as: they are trying to hide the problem and fix it before anyone knows.
A good nursing home will demand timely communications between their staff and the resident’s families and physicians, and will recognize that communication is a cornerstone of providing good care and preventing nursing home abuse. A bad nursing home will not be vigilant about communication, and will often shock families and physicians when they tell them for the first time about dangerous problems that have clearly been going on for some time.

How do we know / how do we prevent this?

A resident’s primary care physician often responds to news of the resident’s medical problems with something like, “Why didn’t the staff at the nursing home tell me about my patient’s problems sooner?” A resident or their family member often learns about a bedsore by asking the staff, “What is that foul smell?” You will never hear these questions being asked to a nursing home that takes their duty of communication seriously.

Here are some tips to help prevent nursing home abuse injuries to your loved one when they are the resident of a nursing home:

  • Ask the staff a lot of questions about what could go wrong and how they prevent it.
  • Ask to be present for all care plan meetings with the Administrator.
  • Inspect your loved one’s skin for blemishes, bruising, broken skin, puss, and oozing.
  • Ask the staff to remove bandages so you can see what they are “covering up” (literally and figuratively).
  • Do not visit your loved one at the nursing home at the same time everyday.
  • Quickly go up the chain of command to nursing supervisors, the Director of Nursing, and the Nursing Home Administrator if your concerns are not being adequately addressed.
  • Put your concerns in writing to the Administrator.
  • Take photographs of anything that looks suspicious, especially problems with your loved one’s skin.

Despite the promises made by the nursing home when your loved one is admitted, you cannot think of a nursing home as a safe haven where your loved one is safe and protected. The better course of action is to think of the nursing home as a babysitter. You can leave your loved one alone at the nursing home – you just need to visit often, ask questions, and inspect your loved one and their surroundings.

NJ and PA Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys at the Mininno Law Office

If you or a loved one are the victim of nursing home abuse and injury, contact a nursing home abuse attorney at the Mininno Law Office. Let our hardworking NJ and PA nursing home abuse attorneys fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation, or call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.