Articles Posted in Inadequate Nutrition

While a resident at Buckingham Valley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Walter Dendall developed pressure sores, UTIs, pneumonia, enterocolitis, C. difficile, renal failure and septic shock, all which led to his untimely death.

The Riley estate sued the nursing home, alleging negligence, wrongful death and survival claims.

Before trial, the parties settled for $200,000.

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Toni Gethers was an elderly woman who suffered from numerous health issues and required assistance with activities of daily living. She was admitted to Hillcrest Center Nursing Facility for a short-term stay.

Over the next five months, she developed a worsening Stage III pressure ulcer, dehydration and acute renal failure among other medical problems.

She also experienced significant weight loss and was hospitalized several times, including once for treatment of pneumonia and osteomyelitis of the sacrum. Her injuries eventually led to her passing. She was survived by her two adult sons.

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Ann Jones, 63, was admitted to Fairlane Senior Care & Rehab Center for rehabilitation after she suffered a stroke. A care plan was established. The plan included Jones’s medical background as an insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetic who was prone to blood sugar fluctuations.

For approximately two months, she received no blood sugar checks or sliding scale insulin adjustments. Worse yet, for several months, Jones rarely received a nighttime snack, which is essential for diabetics.

A doctor revised Jones’s orders and noted that she had uncontrolled diabetes. Despite this late recognition and treatment, the nursing home’s nursing staff chose not to check Jones’s blood sugar for a number of months.

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Cecil Gary, a 60-year-old resident of the McCracken Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, had a history of stroke and was also an amputee.  Although he had limitations in caring for himself, he was aware of his surroundings and generally enjoyed his life.

As a resident of this nursing home, he experienced eight different episodes of dehydration and later developed nausea and severe pain. In this particular incident, the nursing home staff left him in bed, in distress, for about 27 hours before calling paramedics to transfer him to a local hospital. When he was transferred, he was diagnosed as being severely dehydrated and in hypovolemic shock and acute kidney failure.

At the hospital, he received 27 liters of fluid before sending him back to the nursing home. Once he was back at McCracken Nursing and Rehabilitation, he fell, breaking his hip in three places. Gary was not a candidate for hip surgery given his medical condition.

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There has been a recent uptick in claims and lawsuits brought by nursing home and long-term residents, families and loved ones against nursing homes and their ownership for injuries to residents because of the way they are assisted or not assisted depending on a resident’s dietary needs.

For example, many residents on entry to a nursing home are carefully screened for falls, bed sores, medication and are otherwise admitted to a nursing home after a reasonably careful and prudent screening process.

However, in many cases, the issue of a resident’s disability may be relevant in how he or she is able to eat and digest food.

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The Arizona Supreme Court has reversed a summary judgment dismissing a nursing home abuse case.

Marika Delgado was the personal representative of the estate of her sister, Sandra Shaw. Delgado appealed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the defendants who were collectively Manor Care of Tucson.  On appeal, Delgado argued that the court erred in finding that the actions that allegedly caused Shaw’s death were not related to her incapacity as required by Arizona law.

Because the Arizona Supreme Court could not say as a matter of law that the alleged negligence that was a cause of Shaw’s death was unrelated to her incapacity, the state Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial judge and sent the case back for further proceedings.

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It is not new that nursing home residents are too often at risk for abuse, neglect and injury in the more than 17,000 nursing home facilities operating in the United States. Too many times these facilities are understaffed or staffed with untrained or unskilled workers. All of this results in many reports of serious physical, verbal and even sexual abuse in Illinois nursing homes and in other states.

It has been more than a decade since there was a two-year investigative study completed that found more than 9,000 instances of abuse. The most common abuse problems are untreated bedsores followed by inadequate medical care, malnutrition, dehydration, falls, inadequate hygiene and cases of wandering residents.

The aging of adult Americans places even more stress on nursing home facilities and long-term care facilities in which the aging are most likely to be residing. The cost of maintaining a resident at a qualified nursing home is now out of reach for many families. Many times a family member or a loved one becomes unmanageable at home because of illness, injury, age, dementia or other onset of the conditions related to aging.

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As the baby boom generation ages, the population of nursing homes is also expanding. Elderly Americans and Illinois residents who reside in nursing homes are likely the most vulnerable members of this aging society. Nursing home cases should not be confused with medical malpractice cases. A medical malpractice case typically concerns particular acts of negligence, such as a failed surgery or misdiagnosis. In contrast, nursing home cases do not involve a particular or discreet act of negligence. Rather, a nursing home abuse case in Illinois involves a pattern of sub-standard care, abuse or neglect.

For example, a nursing home abuse case may involve bedsores. Bedsores can be wounds of the flesh that take form over many days, weeks or even months. A nursing home resident who is dehydrated or suffers from malnutrition would not be the result of a single wrongful act.

Many nursing home cases arise from substandard care, abuse or neglect. Often nursing homes in Illinois operate without a single on-site treating physician; instead, they have only one who may make regular rounds. At the same time, most well-run nursing home facilities provide treatment by a resident physician, a nursing home administrator, a well-trained nursing staff, CNAs, physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, wound care doctors, dieticians and other medical and nursing providers.

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Mary Dwyer was 87 years old when she was admitted to Harbor View Heath Care Center for a short-term rehabilitation after she had surgery. During the following three months, she lost 20 pounds and developed multiple pressure sores, including a Stage IV sacral wound. Dwyer required two surgical debridements, application of a wound vac to remove fluid from the wound and a diversionary colostomy.

She then suffered a complication, which necessitated the reinsertion of her bowels into her abdomen. Following the surgery, Dwyer died several days later and was survived by her three adult children.

Dwyer’s family filed a lawsuit against the nursing home’s corporate owners and several affiliated companies claiming inadequate nursing home staffing. Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that the defendant nursing home did not have enough certified nursing home aides available to turn her every two hours or a full-time dietician who could assist nursing home residents like Dwyer during meals. After a jury trial, the jury returned a verdict of $13.2 million for this wrongful death action.

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A Georgia jury has awarded $43.5 million in damages related to the abuse and neglect of an 80-year-old man, Morris Ellison. Ellison was a resident of a nursing home where the ownership held title to a string of nursing facilities in and around the state of Georgia. Ellison eventually died in this nursing home.

Along with the neglect and possible abuse, Ellison was found to have been malnourished, dehydrated and lacking sufficient nursing and medical care, all of which was a contributing factor in hastening his death. But the background of this catastrophic case was that the nursing home owners had bilked Medicare and Medicaid out of tens of millions of dollars.

In this case, the nursing home’s individual owner and his wife ran three nursing facilities or long-term care facilities in Georgia. According to newspaper reports, this couple had a net worth of almost $100 million, relying almost exclusively on Medicaid and Medicare payments to operate their nursing home empire. According to the testimony in the case, one of the nursing home directors stated that the facilities were so lacking in funds that they were unable to pay for laundry, essential supplies and personnel wages for the nursing homes. The owners were systematically draining money out of the nursing homes, which resulted in a lack of food supplies, water, medicine, personnel and basic cleaning supplies.

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