Nursing Home Neglect Warning: Certain Anti-depressants Increase Risk of Falls

As nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers, we believe it is important to keep readers informed of any new revelations when it comes to care for the elderly. That is why this blog post centers around the results of a recent study, which show that nursing home residents’ fall risk increases when certain anti-depressants are prescribed. The elderly are in a vulnerable physical state and are often prescribed a high number of medications, all with different side effects. It is very important that the nursing homes monitor the medications that are being given to their residents, to make sure that they are safe combinations and that the drugs are appropriate for each patient. Many drugs may have the intended result for the patient, but the side effects may be too dangerous for that particular person.

Change in Dose of Non-SSRI Antidepressant Can Increase Risk of Falls in Elderly

nursing home neglect in NJ and PAAccording to a study that was published online in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences by Dr. Sarah D. Berry, a scientist at the Institute for Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston, the elderly are at a greater risk of falling the days after they start taking non-SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants, such as bupropion or venlafaxine. The researchers studied information on 1,181 nursing home residents who fell and compared the changes in their antidepressants shortly before the fall. They discovered that a patient’s risk of falling is five times higher two days after changing prescriptions or changing to a higher dose and that the risk falls each day after the medication change. According to Dr. Berry:

“Our results identify the days following a new prescription or increased dose of a non-SSRI antidepressant as a window of time associated with a particularly high risk of falling among nursing home residents…. These drugs are effective at treating the symptoms of depression, and many clinicians are reluctant to withhold their use based solely on a risk for falls…. Nursing home staff should keep a watchful eye on residents in the days following a non-SSRI antidepressant change to prevent falls and clinicians should avoid making changes on weekends or during times when unfamiliar staff is present.”

The study links the increased risk of falls to these possible causes:

  • Serious cognitive or motor effects associated with non-SSRI antidepressants that have not yet been fully examined.
  • Postural hypotension, a dramatic decrease in blood pressure upon standing, associated with certain non-SSRIs, such as trazodone.
  • Sedation and coordination problems linked to certain non-SSRIs.

Over one third of the large elderly population in this country currently living in nursing homes are taking some form of antidepressant. These medications can be very helpful to the residents’ quality of life and this study is showing a side effect of the medications. If the patient is already prone to falls or is in a very fragile condition where a fall could be fatal, the nursing home may want to consider an alternative medication option. But most importantly, these patients need to be monitored more closely for two days after changing prescriptions. They need to be given extra care to prevent falls.

Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers in New Jersey and Philadelphia

If your loved one is currently a resident of a nursing home or care facility and you are worried that they are not receiving their medication, or that the care they are receiving is negligent, abusive, or inadequate, contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation. You may also call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.

Nursing Home Neglect Causes Woman to Fall to her Death

Unfortunately, falls are not uncommon in nursing homes. Patients often fall out of bed, in the shower, or just from lack of balance. Nursing home neglect is a serious issue that can lead to severe injuries or even death. Falls are terrible accidents for the elderly and their families, but there are things nursing homes and long-term care facilities can do to prevent them from happening.

Alzheimer’s Patient Climbs Out Window

new jersey philadelphia Nursing Home Neglect woman falls Springfield Skilled Care CenterOzarksFirst.com reported, in Springfield, Missouri, about a woman with Alzheimer’s who fell from a window of the Springfield Skilled Care Center where she was living. Mary Bebee was 81 years old and living in a secured unit of the facility. According to Cpl. Matt Brown of the Springfield Police, “It appears she tried to crawl through the window, attempted that, and at some point expired.” Ms. Bebee fractured her neck and died because of the fall.

The Springfield Skilled Care Center has had previous issues with inspections. The nursing home has been cited for violations in the past year including failure to prevent falls, failure to properly refrigerate some of their medications, safety code violations in the special care unit and fire doors not opening properly when fire alarms were tested. According to the Medicare Nursing Home Compare System, Springfield Skilled Care Center ranks one out of five stars in terms of health inspections, which is well below average.

Accidents like this one can be prevented. Patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia need to be watched more carefully because they can be unpredictable. These residents should not be given the opportunity to hurt themselves in this way. Windows should be securely shut, sharp objects should not be left out and nursing home staff should be present for daily tasks such as bathing and eating. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are especially vulnerable and need a specialized form of care.

Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys in New Jersey and Philadelphia

If you believe your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, please contact our professionals at the Mininno Law Offices. We are dedicated to eradicating the current trends of abuse and neglect found in the nursing homes across the country. Contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation. You may also call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, and (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.

Lawyers Can’t Reform Nursing Home Industry Alone

new jersey philadelphia attorneys nursing home abuse lawyers help reform industryThe New England Journal of Medicine published an article last month that discussed research done on the correlation between a nursing home’s inspection results and it’s risk of being sued. Not surprisingly, the more frequent the deficiencies, the more likely that facility is going to be sued for nursing home abuse or neglect.

Researchers used information gathered through programs called OSCAR (the Online Survey, Certification, and Reporting System) and MDS (Miniumum Data Set) Quality Measure Indicator Report. The OSCAR system contains all survey and certification information for any Medicare and/or Medicaid certified care facility in the U.S. The MDS system contains information on the physical and cognitive functioning of nursing home residents and is recorded on a monthly basis in order to track care processes and their effectiveness. That data is then used to grade quality of care provided by each individual home.

The study also utilized information provided by five of the nation’s largest nursing home chains regarding tort claims filed against any of their facilities within the country. All information spanned the time from 1998 to 2006.

What did the Research Say?

In that time, it seems that nursing home litigation decreased, having occurred 1.5 times for every 1,000 patients in 1998, and only .3 times for every 1,000 patients by 2006. Nursing home falls and bed sores/pressure ulcers maintained the strongest relationship with the number of claims filed against a home. So, based on this research, the stronger the frequency of falls and bedsores, the lower the quality of care and the higher the risk of civil action.

Researchers stated that while there is indeed a correlation between poor care and lawsuits, the relationship is not strong enough to allow for sole dependance on litgation to reform the nursing home industry. Other steps must be taken to ensure that our loved ones are being properly cared for once that care escapes the realm of our capabilities.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in New Jersey and Philadelphia

If your loved one is a resident at a nursing home or long term care facility and you believe the care they are receiving could be considered abusive or negligent, contact the the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation. Our team is dedicated to advocating for nursing home patient and resident safety. You may also call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.

New Jersey and PA Nursing Home Abuse and OBRA Regulations

As a New Jersey nursing home abuse law firm, we constantly speak with nursing home abuse victims and/or their families. Many ask if Congress has been actively involved in the prevention of nursing home abuse. While the answer is indeed YES, more work is needed.

Nursing Home Abuse Regulations through OBRA

nursing home abuse attonreys in new jersey and philadelphiaAs far back as 1987, the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging held hearings to determine the scope of abuse that was occurring in nursing homes. The federal government deemed the nature and extent of the abuse occurring in nursing homes to be such a serious concern that at the same time, the United States Office of Inspector General further began an investigation designed to uncover whether or not nursing home abuse was widespread throughout this country’s long term care system. As a result of the Senate and the Inspector General’s investigations, Congress then enacted in the Ombudsman’s Reconciliation Act of 1987, or OBRA .

The act consisted of specific federal laws designed to protect the rights of nursing home patients. These regulations set forth patients’ rights to include an absolute right not to be abused physically or mentally by a nursing home staff. The nursing home guidelines in OBRA further sets specific nursing home guidelines that required nursing homes to set out medical policies, procedures, and practices to minimize patient injuries such as bedsores, malnutrition, falls, and other signs of neglect. Under OBRA, states are required to establish state nursing home departments where patients and their families can file complaints. These state nursing home regulatory agencies are also required to perform prompt investigations of any allegations of nursing home abuse, bed sores, pressure ulcers, bedsores, nursing home negligence and other nursing home quality-of-care issues.

Nursing Home Abuse Should be Reported Promptly!

As a New Jersey nursing home abuse lawyer, we typically advise our New Jersey nursing home law clients to file their complaints with the “Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly”. This office investigates allegations of bed sores, abuse and neglect of seniors, age 60 and older, who are living in nursing homes and other long-term healthcare facilities. Under New Jersey law, callers are entitled to anonymity, and the abuse investigation files are not open to the public. To file a complaint, you can call the 24 hour toll-free hotline at 1-877-582-6992, or email at ombudsman@advocate.state.nj.us.

As a Pennsylvania nursing abuse lawyer, we advise our Pennsylvania nursing home law clients to file or report any allegation of abuse or neglect with the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Pennsylvania Department of Aging, 555 Walnut Street, Fifth Floor, P.O. Box 1089, Harrisburg, PA 17101, Phone (717) 783-7427, Fax (717) 772-3382 or the 24 hour state-wide elder abuse hotline at 1-800-490-8505.

Though Congress’s OBRA protection laws have been around for over 25 years, it appears that Nursing Home abuse is still a systemic problem that continues to plague the quality of life of all seniors. As a nursing home abuse lawyer and advocate, we encourage Congress and States to continue to enact protections for the prevention of nursing home abuse.

Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys in New Jersey and Philadelphia

If you or a loved one have suffered extensively due to the abusive or negligent actions of a nursing home or long term care facility, please contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation. The NJ and PA nursing home abuse lawyers at the Mininno Law Office are prepared to handle even the toughest cases, in order to earn you the compensation you need and deserve. You may also call for a free consultation at 856-833-0600 in New Jersey, or 215-567-2380 in Philadelphia.

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Don’t wait as the statute of limitations may be running out on your claim!

Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence: Seek the Help of an Attorney

For many baby boomers, there comes a time when the health issues of mother, father, or other loved one become so advanced that it is impossible to safely and properly care for them anymore. When this happens, the only option may be to place them in a nursing home. Sometimes these stays are for rehabilitation purposes and are temporary. Frequently, however, the stays are permanent. Nursing homes promise that they are equipped to take care of people who are unable to take care of themselves, hence the reason they are in business. They are supposed to provide the care a sick person’s family can no longer provide. And just as families rarely prepare to place their loved one in a nursing home, they also rarely consider what will happen if their loved one suffers an injury as a result of nursing home abuse or negligence.

Nursing Home Negligence Allows for Bedsores

nursing home abuse and negligence attorneys in new jersey and philadelphiaNursing homes frequently allow their residents (our loved ones) to acquire decubitus ulcers, which are more commonly referred to as pressure sores or bedsores. These horrible pressure ulcers are often a result of nursing home neglect regarding the care they provide and preventative methods they employ. High risk bedsore patients (patients who are bedridden) are to be rotated every two hours. Failing to do so is failing to appreciate the risk of skin breakdown for the resident, allowing for the actual development of the bedsores. Even worse, negligent nursing homes that allow for the development of these bedsores commonly fail to properly treat them. It is in these instances that pressure ulcers can become deadly.

Nursing Home Abuse Allows for Falls

Likewise, nursing homes frequently fail to properly assess residents for their risk of falling. There are numerous precautions that a nursing home can take to prevent most falls. Unfortunately, many times these precautions are not taken, and as a result, residents suffer debilitating injuries to hips, shoulders, necks, and heads. Falls and fractures effect the sick and elderly much differently than they do an able bodied younger person. In a negligent nursing home, a hip fracture could be a catalyst for death. As the adult responsible for your loved one, you now find yourself in the position of deciding whether to investigate a nursing home negligence and abuse lawsuit.

Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys in NJ and PA

If you have had to watch your loved one suffer because of nursing home negligence and abuse, do not make the mistake of thinking there is nothing you can do. Nursing homes that act negligently must be punished for their actions. You trusted them to care properly for your family member, and they have taken that money and betrayed your trust. Contact the Mininno Law Office to speak with a New Jersey or Philadelphia nursing home abuse attorney. Through that inquiry form, we offer free case evaluations. We also offer free consultations by phone at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, and (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.

Let the Mininno Law Office team earn you the compensation you and your loved one deserve.

Nursing Home Falls Cause Serious Injury

new jersey philadelphia nursing home abuse attorneys negligence falls cause serious injury
If you or a loved one have fallen due to the negligence or abuse of nursing home caregiver, contact the Mininno Law Office for a free consultation.
The dropping or falling of a nursing home resident can have serious consequences on that person’s quality of life. Each year, an average nursing home reports one to two falls or drops per resident. About 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes die each year from fall-related injuries.
Residents who experience non-fatal falls can suffer serious injuries that greatly reduce their quality of life. Residents have the right to live their remaining years with dignity, and avoidable falls rob them of this dignity and often accellerate their death.

How serious are these falls?

Nursing home falls can cause serious injuries including head trauma and fractures. Many times, the nursing home resident who suffers a fracture is not a candidate for corrective surgical measures. Falls result in disability, increased functional decline and reduced quality of life. Fear of falling can cause further loss of function, depression, feelings of helplessness, and social isolation.

Why do falls occur more often in nursing homes?

Falling can be a sign of other health problems. People in nursing homes are generally more frail and unstable than older adults living in the community. The problem is that nursing homes don’t always take the appropriate measure to prevent avoidable falls. Also, nursing home employees often take shortcuts that lead to the dropping residents.

Residents are generally older, have more chronic conditions, and have difficulty walking. They also tend to have problems with thinking or memory, to have difficulty with activities of daily living, and to need help getting around or taking care of themselves. Of course, this is generally the reason the family trusted the nursing home to care for their loved one in the first place.
The nursing home has a duty to properly assess a resident’s probability for falls, and to communicate with their physician to institute appropriate measures to prevent avoidable falls and drops.

What are the most common causes of nursing home falls?

Nursing homes know muscle weakness and walking or gait problems are the most common causes of falls among nursing home residents. Environmental hazards, such wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height, and improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs are also a cause of falls among residents. Medications often increase the risk of falls and fall-related injuries.
Other causes of falls include difficulty in moving from one place to another (for example, from the bed to a chair), poor foot care, poorly fitting shoes, and improper or incorrect use of walking aids.

It is the duty of the nursing home to understand and consider these factors when developing individualized strategies to prevent the resident from falling or being dropped, in order to avoid nursing home abuse.

How can we prevent falls in nursing homes?

Fall prevention takes a combination of medical treatment, rehabilitation, and environmental changes. The most effective interventions address multiple factors. Interventions include:

1. Nursing home staff assessment of resident upon admission to evaluate the degree a resident is at risk for falling.

2. Nursing home staff assessment of resident after a fall to identify and address risk factors and treat the underlying medical conditions.

3. Educating nursing home staff and families about fall risk factors and prevention strategies.

4. Making changes in the nursing home environment to make it easier for residents to move around safely. Such changes include putting in grab bars, adding raised toilet seats, lowering bed heights, and installing handrails in the hallways.

5. Instituting toileting schedules so residents do not try to go to the bathroom without assistance.

6. Using devices such as alarms that go off when residents try to get out of bed or move without help.

Do physical restraints help prevent falls?

The biggest misconception for the public is that restraints lower the risk of falls or fall injuries. Restraints should not be used as a fall prevention strategy. Restraints can actually increase the risk of fall-related injuries and deaths. Limiting a resident’s freedom to move around leads to muscle weakness and reduces physical function.
Doctors are more likely to order the lowering of beds and the placement of soft mats around them to prevent injury from falls.

Nursing Home Abuse in NJ and PA: Mininno Law Office

The nursing home abuse attorneys at the Mininno Law Office are dedicated to fighting for those wronged by abusive and negligent treatment in the nation’s nursing homes.
If you or a loved one have been negatively affected by nursing home abuse or negligence, please contact the Mininno Law Office and get a free case evaluation. You can also call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.

We will fight to get you the settlement that you deserve.

What is a Nursing Home Care Plan?

A care plan is a document specific to each nursing home resident that identifies all of their medical issues, the treatments the staff is supposed to provide to treat those issues, and a list of goals to reflect the expected improvement their medical condition.
A federal law known as OBRA requires nursing homes to provide a multi-disciplinary team of care givers who are charged with ensuring that the nursing home resident receives the care and services needed to ensure that the resident reaches and maintains “the highest practicable degree of physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.

This team is primarily made up of physicians, nurses, physical therapists, social workers, and dieticians (and essentially any other discipline involved in the resident’s care).
To deliver on the quality of care the resident and their family were promised by the nursing home, the team must develop a comprehensive care plan which provides a framework for the staff who are treating the resident on a day-to-day basis. To be effective and comprehensive, the care planning process must include the input of all caregivers that are involved in the care of the resident.

Care planning is an essential part of properly caring for a nursing home resident. A good care plan provides a ‘road map’ of sorts, to guide all who are involved with a resident’s care. A caregiver that was just hired, or is coming back to work from a vacation, can look at the care plan developed for a resident and know exactly what needs to be done to care for that resident.
A care plan is not a stagnant or stationary document. The care plan changes just as the resident’s condition changes. The care plan needs to be reviewed and updated by the caregivers, especially when there is a change in the resident’s condition.

What is a Care Plan Conference?

Care plans should be created at a care plan conference held at the nursing home. The resident, and their family members, should be involved in the conference. The nursing home should invite the resident, and their family members to attend the conference. If they don’t, the resident, and their family members should tell the nursing home Administrator that they would like to be present at the conference.
At the care plan conference, the resident’s medical issues are identified and the treatments that the staff is supposed to execute to care for the resident are set forth. Goals for improvement are set. Whether the resident’s health improves, or declines, the care plan needs to be adjusted to reflect the best way to treat the resident at that time.

It is important for the family to attend the care plan conferences because they can discuss what they know about the resident to ensure that the resident’s medical issues are properly identified. It is also important for the family to discuss and understand treatment strategies and goals with the caregivers.
Understanding a resident’s care plan will help the family understand what should be happening at the nursing home, and to bring it to the attention of the Administrator and resident’s physician if the family feels the care plan is not being followed. Not following the care plan can often lead to nursing home abuse, debilitating falls, and pressure ulcers for the resident.

Relevant Federal Statute concerning Care Plans

$483.20(d) (A facility must…) use the results of the assessment to develop, review and revise the resident’s comprehensive plan of care.

$483.20(k) Comprehensive Care Plans

The facility must develop a comprehensive care plan for each resident that includes measurable objectives and timetables to meet a resident’s medical, nursing, and mental and psychosocial needs that are identified in the comprehensive assessment. The care plan must describe the following:

(i) The services that are to be furnished to attain or maintain the resident’s highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being as required under $483.25; and

(ii) Any services that would otherwise be required under $483.25 but are not provided due to the resident’s exercise of rights under $483.10, including the right to refuse treatment under $483.10.

Nursing Home Neglect: Mininno Law Office

If you or a loved one have been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, contact the Mininno Law Office immediately and get a free case evaluation. You could also call us toll-free at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.
Let us work to get you the compensation you deserve.