Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

Questions about nursing home facilities’ staffing are always important to know whenever there is a report of an injury, neglect or abuse in any nursing home setting. A study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College concluded that when the economy is strong, death rates at nursing homes rise. This research shows that when general employment levels rise, staffing at nursing homes drop. It turns out that the reason is that many nursing home staff prefer to work elsewhere. Therefore, the loss of caregiving for the elderly is linked with higher death rates, particularly in older women who outlive their male partners.

As Americans live longer, the need for nursing home facilities and care-giving resources are being stretched to their limits. Those living into their 80s are among the fastest growing age groups in the United States.

Because the federal and state governments have reduced Medicare funding for nursing home facility reimbursement rates, the elderly face much greater financial pressure. There is continued pressure to reduce healthcare spending, particularly on caregivers. The study found a precipitous rise in deaths at nursing facilities as the economy expands and workers find jobs in other work places.
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Many people are considering careers in the medical field, particularly in nursing. According to one study, the state of Michigan faces a critical shortage of nurses.

In order to meet this estimated job shortage, many workers are changing from their current volatile careers to what they see as a more stable career choice. A recent New York Times article showcased some Michigan natives making the shift to nursing, many of which were male. Examples are the 49-year-old grocery warehouse employee who now works at a nursing home, or the 59-year-old nursing student who used to work as an automotive vibration engineer. These men represent the growing trend of keeping their options open and finding work where it’s available.

Currently, Michigan’s unemployment rate is at 4.3 percent. In order to not become a number in that statistic, many former automotive employees are turning to nursing as a way to jumpstart a new career. In fact, the trend is so common that Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., established a program specifically geared toward training former autoworkers in nursing careers.
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Hospital-borne infections have been a problem for years, and drug-resistant bacteria like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) have become household names. However, a New York Times article highlights another virus that is causing a high rate of death among children and the elderly. The article provides some insight into how the medical community could help decrease the number of deaths.

Norovirus is an extremely contagious virus and in recent years has become the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis. And while many of the symptoms caused by norovirus mimic that of the flu or a severe cold, e.g. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain; epidemiologist Aron Hall warns, “I think there is perhaps a misperception that norovirus causes a mild illness; . . . [it is] a major problem that requires some attention.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year norovirus causes over 20 million illnesses, leads to 70,000 hospitalizations, and results in 800 deaths. In addition, norovirus is the most common cause of food disease outbreaks in the U.S. Because norovirus has much in common with C. difficile, a bacterial infection, medical officials are examining the ways hospitals and nursing homes have tried to combat the spread of C. diff to try and help reduce the spread of norovirus.
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A New York Times article described a family that encountered a common family problem: What to do with our aging mother, living alone, who doesn’t want to move into a nearby nursing home?

Dr. Socorrito Baez-Page, a general practitioner in Alexandria, Va., moved her parents first into a nursing home. She converted a dining room and TV nook on the main floor into a bedroom. But the problem was that the bathroom was down four steps, which were difficult and dangerous for her mother to navigate. It was embarrassing for her mom to use a commode next to her bed.

As an alternative, the Page family found that they could buy a high-tech MedCottage, which is a pre-fabricated 12×24 bedroom-bathroom-kitchenette set up as a free standing structure in the backyard.

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Sue Carter brought Joyce Gott to the Odin Nursing Home in 2005. Carter signed an arbitration agreement as Gott’s “legal representative.” Gott also signed an arbitration agreement with Odin after she was admitted to the nursing home facility.

Carter’s lawsuit filed against Odin claimed that the nursing home’s negligence caused Gott to die from gastrointestinal bleeding, anemia and respiratory failure.

Count I of Carter’s complaint was brought for Gott’s personal-injury claim preserved by the Illinois Survival Act. Count II of the complaint was for Gott’s heirs under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act.

Especially during the holidays, it is so important to visit loved ones, family members and friends who are residents of nursing home facilities, assisted living facilities and hospice care facilities. Nursing home residents who are surrounded by family and concerned friends always are uplifted. Too many times residents of nursing homes are lonely, become despondent, and their health declines.

Residents of nursing homes who choose not to take regular meals and may be lost at times by nursing home staff can also fall into depression. That’s why it is so important for family members, loved ones and friends to regularly visit the residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospice care centers.

Not only is it more likely that nursing home staff will respond to requests made by the resident and family members when visitors are frequent, but the general outlook of an elderly person or one recovering from injury or illness is significantly increased by the presence of family and friends. The more visits, the better, as a general rule.

Since the middle of this decade, there have been repeated inquiries into the untimely deaths of nursing home residents caused by being trapped or strangled in bedrails. Bedrails are installed in many cases for those nursing home residents who are infirm, suffering from dementia or have a tendency to wander.
The evidence is abundant that the elderly are suffering grave injury and deaths at an alarming rate, mostly in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and at hospitals.

Both the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been involved over these years in investigating deaths related to bedrails. Unfortunately, little has been done to force manufacturers and companies who distribute these bedrails to change the way they are utilized.

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A jury has found that a skilled nursing home was negligent in choosing not to detect a dislocated right hip of one of its residents. One of the patients, P.G., 85, was admitted to the nursing home on a short-term basis following her right hip replacement surgery. P.G. was a fall risk, meaning she was noted in the records to be at greater risk of falling on scale. The practice of assessing nursing home resident’s propensity for falling is standard practice and required.

About two weeks after admission to the skilled nursing unit, the resident’s sister came to visit and noticed that her sister, P.G., was in pain and unable to bear weight on her leg. It was then that an X-ray showed P.G.’s dislocated right hip.

As a result, emergency surgery was required to remove P.G.’s hip prosthesis from her earlier hip replacement. P.G. was confined to a wheelchair for several months until she was able to undergo the revision surgery. Recovery has been slow, and P.G. has not been able to return to her home.

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It has become much more common to find that the known name for a nursing home is not related to its true nursing home ownership. Often, owners of nursing homes are carefully hiding the identity in a maze of ownership.

A plaintiff’s lawyers who handle nursing home cases are cautious about researching ownership. Today more than ever, nursing home operators find that elderly residents are filling these facilities at higher occupancy levels.

There is more and more demand for elder care in independent living or assisted living in nursing homes. Because of the demand, ownership of nursing homes is on the private investment company favored list of acquisitions. Private equity enterprises and larger publicly traded companies are operating more nursing homes today than ever before.

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Most elderly people will tell you they’d rather remain in their homes as they age rather than going to live in a care facility. Now a new study shows that those who live at home are MORE likely to die in a hospital. That’s because the elderly who live in their homes often do not receive the care of a nursing professional, resulting in a trip to the emergency room, and, eventually, death in a hospital bed.

The study was carried out by researchers from the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College in London. It was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services & Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Program. But even though it was conducted in the United Kingdom, its findings are applicable in the United States.

The study found that 42 per cent of patients with advanced non-malignant conditions reported a preference for home death, yet only 12 per cent of deaths from respiratory and neurological conditions occur at home, and only 6 per cent for dementia.

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