Attorney Robert D. KreismanRead His Profile »

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In a confidential settlement, a nursing home paid $475,000 to a seriously injured resident. The resident was listed and charted as being at a high risk for falling. However, several nursing assistants placed the resident at the edge of her bed and then left her alone.  This occurred while the resident was waiting for her dialysis appointment. The resident fell off the bed and hit her head on the floor.

The resident suffered a traumatic head injury and died one month after the date she suffered her head injuries. The resident was survived by her three adult children.

The lawsuit brought by the family of this resident alleged that the nursing home chose not to monitor the resident properly in order to prevent her fall. This case was settled as a confidential settlement.

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Sophia Alcon, 77, was admitted to Life Care Center of Pueblo, a skilled nursing facility. During the 7 months that she remained there, she suffered various injuries and illnesses, including urinary tract infections, bed sores, dehydration, malnutrition, pain, renal failure and aspiration pneumonia. She was brought to a nearby hospital where a staff medical provider noticed that her vagina was packed with dried feces. She died as a result of her medical conditions and is survived by her 10 adult children.

One of her sons, on her behalf and for the family, sued the nursing home and its corporate affiliates maintaining that they were responsible for her death. In the complaint it was alleged that the nursing home was negligent, was responsible for her wrongful death and was guilty of numerous consumer protection violations. Among other things, the Alcon family alleged that the defendants chose not to properly assess Sophia’s medical needs, formulate an appropriate care plan, provide adequate staffing and properly trained personnel at this skilled nursing facility.

The jury’s verdict of $5.56 million, included $5 million in punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendants for the abusive treatment to Sophia Alcon.

The attorneys representing the Alcon family were Brent L. Moss, Brian D. Reddick and Robert Francis.

Alcon v. South Pueblo Medical Investors, Ltd., No. 2015-cv-30089 (Colo. Dist. Ct. Pueblo County, May 13, 2016).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling nursing home abuse cases, wrongful death cases, nursing home negligence cases and medical negligence cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Bellwood, Hoffman Estates, Mundelein, Brookfield, Chicago (Lincoln Park, Jefferson Park, Austin, Englewood, Lawndale, Hegewisch, East Side, Old Town, Greek Town), Rosemont, Richton Park, Country Club Hills, Countryside and Wheaton, Ill.

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In an April/May CBA Record article written by attorney Dmitry N. Feofanov, the options for agreeing to confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements were explained. Too often confidentiality agreements seem to show up in settlement agreements or release documents when no negotiations have been previously entertained. At the very least, if a confidentiality clause is insisted upon by any party to a settled case, the inclusion should be negotiated as part of the consideration.

Mr. Feofanov’s focus was on the ethics rules of professional conduct. What Mr. Feofanov wrote was that confidentiality clauses should be avoided whenever possible and even with the risk that refusal to include confidentiality clauses to the agreement may undo a settled case.

Mr. Feofanov says he refuses to compromise on confidentiality clauses in any way and would not enter into settlement agreements that contain confidentiality clauses.

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The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act has been amended. The new law changes the requirements of nursing home facilities when they transfer residents. The amendment allows for exceptions to the requirement that nursing home facilities shall request a criminal background check on people admitted to a facility within 24 hours of admission when the transferring resident is either (i) immobile or (ii) moving into hospice.

These exceptions are applicable only if a background check was completed by the resident’s prior facility and the resident was transferred to the current facility with no time passing in which the resident was not institutionalized.

If either exception is applicable, the prior facility shall provide the facility to which the resident is being transferred with a copy of its background check of the resident and all supporting documentation, including, when applicable, the criminal history report and the security assessment.

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On April 13, 2016, a release from the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) stated that the term “pressure injury” replaces “pressure ulcer” in the NPUAP injury staging system. According to the report, a change in terminology more accurately describes pressure injuries to both intact and ulcerated skin. It was concluded that the previous staging system was confusing. A Stage I and Deep Tissue Injury described injured intact skin, while the other stages describe open wounds or ulcers.

In another change in terminology, the panel is now using Arabic numbers instead of Roman numerals in the names of stages.

A meeting of over 400 professionals was held in Chicago on April 8-9, 2016. Using what was called the consensus format, Dr. Mikel Gray of the University of Virginia guided the Staging Task Force.

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The Illinois Appellate Court for the First District has reversed and remanded a decision by a Cook County circuit court judge in a nursing home case involving discovery and confidentiality.

In 2011, Robert Holman was a resident of a long-term care facility, Renaissance at Midway.  On or about Jan. 22, 2011, Holman was attacked by another resident. He suffered injuries to his left eye, which caused a hyphema, an orbital fracture and a globe rupture.

On Jan. 17, 2013, a lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County by John Stuckey who was the attorney-in-fact for Holman and his sister. The lawsuit named Renaissance but did not name the attacker, who was identified in the lawsuit as “John Doe.”

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Under a law enacted in Illinois in August 2015, the Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Facilities Act became effective on Jan. 1, 2016. Under its provisions, residents and their roommates have the right to consent to having a video or audio recording devices installed in their rooms. The cost of the installation and the equipment must be paid by the resident or the resident’s family or loved ones. Some refer to the video installed in nursing homes as “granny cams.”

Illinois has become one of just a handful of states that allow the recording devices in nursing home residents’ rooms. The law is in response to growing numbers of cases of nursing home abuse that regularly takes place in these facilities at the expense of the most vulnerable of our citizens: the elderly, the ill and infirm.

The Illinois Department of Public Health will establish a fund of $50,000 that will be given each year to residents selected by a lottery to purchase and install monitoring devices in nursing homes. It will be a criminal offense to tamper, obstruct or destroy the devices.  Nursing homes are not allowed under this law to discriminate or retaliate against a resident who installs the monitoring systems.

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According to recent reports by the National Center on Elder Abuse — Administration of Aging (Department of Health and Human Services), America’s expanding elderly population has led to an increase in elder abuse.

It is predicted that by 2050, people 65 and older will make up 20% of the total U.S. population. Today, the fastest growing segment of America’s population consists of those 85 years and older. In 2010, there were about 5.8 million people 85 or older. By the year 2050, it is projected that there will be 19 million people over 85.

“Elder abuse” is defined as intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether the harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who is in a trust relationship with the elder. Other abuse includes the failure of caregivers to provide the basic needs of an older adult or to protect the elder from harm from others.

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In a shocking video that was shown to the jury at trial, two nursing home aides appeared to stuff a latex glove into the mouth of a 96-year-old nursing home resident. The resident was sitting in a wheelchair. The undercover video helped change laws in many states. Families can legally hide cameras inside their loved one’s room.

The video is disturbing in a number of ways. But most of all, it reveals the dangers that nursing home residents face each day. It remains so important for family and loved ones of nursing home residents to regularly visit and make it known to staff at the nursing home that they are regularly present. The more often visits are made, the less likely that something this horrific will occur again at an Illinois nursing home or long-term care facility.

In this particular case, a jury at the federal court house in Oklahoma City entered its verdict of $1.2 million for emotional distress and $10,000 in punitive damages. Given the intentional, vindictive and heartless acts of the nurse’s aides, the punitive damage part of the verdict seems light. However, this was a criminal act where the liberty of the two nurse’s aides has been taken.

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In 2014 the case of Mary Slepicka was contested wherein it was claimed in the lawsuit that Holy Family Villa Nursing Facility incorrectly billed her during her stay. The key issue in the appeal was venue. The court in 2014 ruled that she was wrong to file her case in Springfield, Ill., instead of Chicago. The unanimous opinion of the Illinois Supreme Court, authored by Justice Charles E. Freeman, said the venue mistake was not fatal to earlier administrative and trial court rulings, which determined she was correctly evicted from the nursing home for failing to pay living expenses.

The Supreme Court justices ordered the case back to the Illinois Appellate Court. The Illinois Appellate Court for the 4th District determined there was not enough evidence to reverse the initial decisions.

In the lawsuit, Slepicka claimed she was qualified for a lower Medicaid rate. Her contract with the nursing home in 2011 listed her as paying a higher out-of-pocket expense. In addition, she was given a room that wasn’t certified for Medicaid coverage.

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