Is Grandma Safe in the Nursing “Home” for the Holidays? Safety violations reported in 94% corporate nursing homes

“More than 90 percent of nursing homes were cited for violations of federal health and safety standards last year, and for-profit homes were more likely to have problems than other types of nursing homes, federal investigators say in a report issued on Monday.” Robert Pear, The New York Times

The Department of Human Health and Services has found nearly 94% of for profit nursing homes, many run by large corporations, have been cited for safety violations.This statistic is appalling, considering the millions dollar profits being made by these nursing homes. For the year 2008, nursing homes charge families $77,380 on average for a room and $36,372 for assisted living rooms.With costs increasingly rising, poor patient care and frequent violations are inexcusable.

If it wasn’t bad enough that these corporate nursing homes drastically overcharge, for the quality of care they provide, they are also supplementing their profits by overcharging taxpayers.Inspector General of the Department of Human Health and Services said he had found some cases in which nursing homes billed Medicare and Medicaid for services that, “were not provided, or were so wholly deficient that they amounted to no care at all.”

The decision to place a member of your family in a nursing home or assisted living is difficult, but often necessary.If you currently have a family member in assisted living or a nursing home, please make sure that someone you trusts checks them regularly to ensure that the home is providing proper care.Never hesitate to ask the staff any question, and always bring up any concern you have.Write down the names of the individuals with whom you speak.Do not let nursing home staffs tell you that you are worrying too much.When it comes to the care of your family, you can never be cautious enough. Finally, remember that neglect and abuse has many signs, some of which can be hard to immediately detect.Every time you visit your family member, be sure to always check the following by talking to the staff, and making your own observations: 1. be sure that there are no signs of bruising on your family member from possible abuse, 2. make sure that they are receiving the proper and necessary medication and nutrition, 3, makes sure that the staff is frequently monitoring that there are no bed or pressure sores developing, and 4. make sure that nursing home staff is capable of responding immediately to an emergency situation.

If you suspect abuse, you can report it to the local regulatory authorities:

In Pennsylvania you can go to the Office of Aging website

In New Jersey, contact the Adult Protective Services

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in New Jersey

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Pennsylvania

Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in New Jersey

Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Pennsylvania

A father’s day gift: support the “fairness in nursing home arbitration act”

Imagine the scene.  You are sitting with your elderly dad in a nursing home’s admission office. On the floor are suitcases packed with his clothes, personal belongings, family photos and memories. You watch as the admission officer hands over a package containing hundreds of forms that need to be signed.  His hands shake as he begins to sign the forms.  Moments later, he is taken to his new “home” where, you know, he will live out the rest of his life.

While it is undoubtedly painful, putting Mom or Dad into a nursing home is sometimes necessary when they require around the clock care. In general, a nursing home’s admission office is frequently the scene of tears and anguish from grown children overwhelmed by the guilt of abandoning a parent to the home.

However, according to recent reports, insurance carriers and corporate nursing homes are seeking to capitalize on this vulnerability by sneaking a contract clause into the preadmission forms that take away rights guaranteed by the US Constitution and the Constitution of 48 states. This includes Mom or Dad’s right to a jury trial, the right to attorney’s fees and, the right to the full measure compensatory damage and/or punitive damages in the event of nursing home abuse or neglect.

Nursing homes present these clauses as a “take or leave it” deal. There is no mutuality.  Mom or Dad is not permitted an opportunity to negotiate the terms and no lawyer is present to advise them. They are kept in the dark regarding the problems that persist in the nursing home industry and, protecting their legal right is the last thing on their mind as they sit in the admission office with their suitcases and belongings.  If Mom or Dad refuses to sign, they are turned away from the door of the nursing home, despite their need for round the clock care.

At this point, you may be wondering why insurance companies and big corporate nursing homes try to slip these clauses into every contract?  For starters, they recognize the vulnerability of Mom or Dad during the admissions process.  Also, by taking away Mom or Dad’s right to gain access to the courts, corporations no longer have to worry about their wrongdoing being exposed. Access to the courts is our most effective means of holding companies accountable for their actions. Forcing Mom or Dad to waive their rights to sue is just another way corporations place themselves above the laws that are created and intended to protect us.

In our civil justice system, wrongdoers are supposed to be held accountable for the harm they cause.  Innocent victims are also entitled to be compensated for the full measure of their loss. That is why this Father’s day, we should commit to support the “Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2008,” which is presently pending before Congress.  This measure is supported by the AARP and has received additional bipartisan support from elder care and human rights foundations across the country.

As a gift this father’s day, I encourage you to write a letter to your local Congressman and state Senator regarding this bill (HR 6126 and S. 2838).  In the letter, please urge Congress to act swiftly to outlaw pre-dispute, binding mandatory agreements in nursing home settings.  With your help, senior citizens around the country will be given back their right to hold bad nursing homes accountable for the pain and suffering they have caused.  In my opinion, there is no better way to say thank you to our fathers than by ensuring that they will be treated with dignity and respect in the final stages of life.

Related Information:

New Jersey Lawyers – Nursing Home Abuse

How To Treat A Bedsore

The development of a bedsore (or pressure sore) in an elderly or bedridden loved one can be a scary ordeal. Bedsores are painful and often require months of treatment before they heal. Bedsores can also be fatal if not cared for properly; therefore, it is important that family members are extremely involved in the treatment process.

The following list offers practical tips on how to treat a bedsore. Families can also use the list as a gauge to determine whether their loved one is receiving appropriate care from the nursing home or hospital staff. In addition, I encourage you to read ahead to the legal rights of a bedsore patient. Bedsores are a clear sign of neglect in nursing home or hospital setting. You have the legal right to hold these facilities accountable for the pain and suffering they have caused your loved one.

Bedsore Prevention Methods

  1. Keep Moving– Ideally, a bedsore patient should move every 15 minutes to keep pressure off of the sore. If this frequency is not possible (as in the case of an immobile resident), the bedsore patient must be moved at least every two hours. He or she should also be kept off of the sore as much as possible. Special mattresses, foam blocks or special chairs may help keep your loved one comfortable during the repositioning process.
  2. Keep it Clean– The bedsore should be cleaned with Saline solution and wrapped with an occlusive dressing. Occlusive dressing is a clear transparent bandage that can seal itself to the wound and is found at your local medical supply store. The bandage should also be left on for a few days before it is changed. If the dressing is changed too often, it will inhibit the body’s natural growth factors from connecting with the raw tissue.
  3. Get Healthy– Malnutrition is common in bedsore patients. This condition contributes to the easy breakdown of the skin. To promote healing, the bedsore patient should eat plenty of protein, take 500 mg of Vitamin C supplements twice a day (as always, consult with a doctor before taking supplements) and drink 8 glass of water a day to prevent dehydration. It is a proven fact that patients who receive proper nutrition will not only heal faster, but will be less likely to get another bedsore in the future.

Legal Rights of a Bedsore Patient

Nursing homes and hospitals have specific guidelines aimed at preventing bedsores. Therefore, if a bedsore develops, it’s safe to conclude that someone was not following the rules. These sores are so unacceptable that insurance companies are now refusing to pay doctors for bedsore treatment.

The reason for this is simple—bedsores are easier to prevent than treat. In most cases, bedsores are just the result of carelessness and neglect. Fortunately, insurance companies are not the only ones taking a stand against such negligent behavior. Bedsore patients and family members have turned to the court system to hold hospitals and nursing homes responsible for the pain and suffering they have caused. And while the hospital or nursing home may insist that bedsores are unavoidable even under the best circumstances, nothing can be further than the truth.

How to Get Help

Your first priority is the physical health of your loved one. Once they are stable and being treated as recommended above, you should contact an elder abuse attorney to discuss your specific case. At Mininno Law Office, we use a unique team of medical and legal professionals that work together to cover every angle of your bedsore case. Our staff nurse will answer any medical questions you may have, while our team of elder abuse attorneys will fight aggressively for your rights in court.

To get started with our licensed RN, call toll-free (856) 833-0600 or fill out the case evaluation form on the right side of the page.

Related information:

New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

What To Look For In A Nursing Home

The thought of placing a family member in a nursing home can be overwhelming.  With reports of abuse and neglect constantly surfacing all over the country, selecting a nursing home is often the last resort for many families.  Unfortunately, the time does come when even the most devoted families are unable to provide the necessary medical care that their loved one needs.

When faced with such a tough decision , it is essential that family members educate themselves on how to distinguish a good nursing home from the bad.  Carole Herman from the Foundation Aiding The Elderly (FATE) has compiled the following tips as a free resource to guide families in selecting a nursing home.  Her website offers a wealth of free information for those dedicated to protecting the elderly.

When looking for a nursing home, Carole suggests the following:

The following are some tips on what to look for in a nursing home to help prevent bad care and abuse of your loved one.

Do not be intimidated by threats from the facility such as kicking the patient out of the facility because of complaints or the facility’s refusal to cooperate with requests for information.

Get a durable power of attorney for medical care so that you can make health care decisions and review medical records.

Request a complete facility profile from the State Health Department, Licensing and Certification Department for the facility you intend to use. Note the number of complaints, the fines assessed and whether the fines have been paid.

Notice how many people in the facility seem to be in stupors or in bed or unable to walk or talk. If many patients fall into this category, be wary of overmedication at the facility, especially with the psychotropic drugs Haldol, Thorazine, Mellaril and Prolixin.

Visit at different times during the day, including meal times. Take notice of the types of food and nutritional balance. Dehydration is a problem, so make sure water is available at all times and that it is easily accessible to the patient.

Be sure the patient is actually seen by the doctor and talk with the doctor personally. If the doctor is difficult to contact, bring in another doctor to examine the patient.

Make sure all recommended care is given, such as physical therapy. Stop by when such activities are scheduled.

Take seriously any complaints the patient has about mistreatment by the staff, such as “they pull my hair”, “they are mean to me”. Don’t accept the facilities statement that the patient is old and doesn’t know what’s going on.

Check the patient’s body for bedsores or pressure sores, particularly the tailbone, feet and hips. Stage 4, the most serious stage of bedsores, causes death in many cases.

Take an interest in other patients. Talk with their relatives about problems and the care being given.

Report any signs of bad care to the state licensing office in your state that licenses and regulates nursing homes. Be sure to follow up on the complaint to insure accountability.

As you can see, the common denominator among her suggestions is involvement.  I can not stress enough how simple involvement will help you discern nursing home abuse before the situation gets out of hand.

Alternatively, if you have read the above suggestions and now believe that your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, it is not too late to act.  Ask questions, demand answers and immediately get involved in their treatment.  If this does not solve the problem, move your relative to a different facility and contact an attorney immediately to discuss the situation. You can find more information on filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit in New Jersey or Pennsylvania here or call (856) 833-0600 in NJ or (215) 567-2380 in PA.

5 Ways To Detect Nursing Home Abuse

While some acts of nursing home abuse are blatantly obvious (such as a loved one kept in an over medicated state for no reason), others are more subtle and may be overlooked by family or friends. If your loved one displays the following characteristics while residing in a nursing home facility, chances are he/she has been the victim of abuse.

  1. Bedsores or Open Wounds– Nursing homes often insist that bedsores are natural and to be expected among frail or immobile residents. Sadly, many families believe this lie and watch helplessly as their loved one experiences pain and sometimes fatal complications as a result of these sores. The truth is that 99% of bedsore cases are the result of abuse and negligence. Nursing homes have strict guidelines that require them to move patients every 2-3 hours and keep their sheets/ garments dry to prevent moisture from irritating the skin. If your loved one has a bedsore, it is likely that this regiment was not followed by the staff. Upon detection of a bedsore, family members should insist that he/she is moved to a medical facility for treatment and contact an attorney to discuss your rights against the nursing home.
  2. Unexplained bruises, cuts, burns or fractures– While it is true that accidents may happen among weak and frail nursing home residents, families should be suspicious of any injury sustained at the facility. Sometimes residents are dropped or abused while in a medicated state and therefore do not remember what happened to them. Family members should not be afraid to ask questions about the situation. If the nurse or aid seems to hesitate or offer a vague explanation, chances are your loved one is being mistreated or neglected by the staff.
  3. Torn, Bloody or Stained Garments– If you notice torn, bloody or stained clothes, there is a good chance that your loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is prevalent in nursing homes, especially among residents who are heavily medicated or have short-term memory problems. Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections are other signs of sexual abuse. Again, if you are not given a satisfactory reason for torn or stained garments or what seems to be a genital infection, remove your loved one from the facility immediately and report your suspicions to local authorities.
  4. Refusal or Delays to Visit the Resident– Family members should be immediately suspicious if the nursing home staff stalls before allowing a visit or openly denies a spontaneous visit in the absence of a medical reason. Family members should also be suspicious of any nursing home that will not allow the resident to have a private visit with a family member. This is a way to intimidate or prevent the resident from reporting the staff for any abuse or neglect that they have experienced.
  5. Abrupt changes in the resident’s financial documents or will– While a resident has the right to amend personal documents, family members should be suspicious if these changes happen abruptly or if the resident does not remember making such changes. The resident may have been coerced into changing the documents or giving out account numbers while under the influence of medication or after threats of physical harm.

If your loved one has displayed any of the warning signs listed above, you must act immediately to ensure the situation does not get worse. In the case of neglect, call every three hours to make sure the resident has been moved, groomed, bathed, etc. If you suspect sexual or physical abuse, consider moving the resident to a different facility. On the other hand, if you know for a fact that such abuse is taking place, move the resident immediately and contact an attorney to file suit against the abusive staff member and nursing home facility.

Most importantly, get involved in your loved one’s treatment and daily care. Family members make the best advocates for nursing home residents. When family members visit often and ask questions, staff members will be hesitant to engage in abusive activities or provide substandard care. Residents have rights, and involved family members will ensure that those rights are not violated by predators or careless staff.

For further information on nursing home abuse, click on the following links:

New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

Bed Sore Resources for Patients

This blog sets out resources for Bed Sore Patients. As was revealed recently, bedsores and pressure ulcers cost society over $50 Billion dollars annually. See the Bed Sore Costs Billions article (that’s a 50 with 9 zeros after it!)

Fortunately, there are many professional organizations dedicated to education, awareness and prevention of bed sores. For example, the National Ducubitus Foundation, is a leader in bed sore research. Organizations like the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse Society, the American Professional Wound Care Association, and the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) also work on publishing bed sore, pressure ulcer and nursing home abuse prevention guidelines for health care professionals.

The Mininno Law Office promotes bed sore awareness and patient advocacy. Check out Bed Sore Costs Billions, and Practical Tips for Avoiding Bed Sores.

The Mininno Law Office Ezine publication, Patients Advocate’s Guide to Preventing Bed Sores, has been widely distributed to bed sore patient families.

Check back each week for more bed sore and pressure sore resources.