It Could Happen Anywhere

Nusing Home Injury

Hurricane Irma may be receding into the rear view mirror of history, but if your loved one lives in a nursing home, you may have good reason to worry about the next disaster and what it might bring. It’s suspected that a significant number of the approximately 15,600 nursing homes in the United States are not prepared for disasters, and that the 11 seniors who perished in a South Florida rehab center will not be the last ones to suffer. The executive director of National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, Lori Smetanka, commented about the Florida deaths, saying, “This could have happened anywhere. It could have been any type of emergency or disaster.” Post-Katrina Changes New evacuation and safety rules were put into effect after the horror that was Hurricane Katrina, when it’s believed that 1,833 persons died, in total. At LaFon Nursing Home in eastern New Orleans, 22 elderly persons died, with 35 more drowning in a St. Bernard Parish nursing home, located right outside New Orleans. The rules and regulations regarding emergency plans are considered good, but enforcing the rules is the problem. The government often grants multi-year extensions to nursing home operators when it comes to[…..]

Eviction from a . . . Nursing Home?

Believe it or not, facing eviction from one’s nursing home is a growing problem for seniors and their families. Supposedly based on a behavioral or medical problem, but often based nearly entirely on greed, some nursing homes and assisted living centers are dumping their most difficult or least fiscally-productive patients, so they can open up beds for those who will cause fewer problems for staff and bring in more money. Across the U.S., nursing home evictions are the leading category of all complaints about nursing homes. Between 8,000 and 9,000 complaints are registered with the government concerning such evictions every year. Why Is This Problem Happening? In brief, Medicare pays more than Medicaid and is time-limited. To explain further:  Short-term rehabilitation care that is paid for by Medicare, which is frequently prescribed after a hospital stay, pays 84 percent more for patients than the facilities receive from Medicaid patients. Medicaid is the health insurance program that kicks in when low-income elderly and others need long-term care. The ever-changing health care landscape penalizes those with few financial resources but many medical needs. A staff lawyer at California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Anthony Chicotel, says he receives calls weekly from those[…..]

Improvements in Nursing Home and LTC Facility Care for Our Loved Ones

Almost everyone these days seems to know someone in a nursing home or long-term care (LTC) facility. Perhaps it’s an old friend, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or maybe even one of your parents. Advances in medical care mean it is growing more likely that we will need a nursing home or LTC facility as we live longer, but possibly frailer, lives. It is important to protect the rights and dignity of those who cannot speak for themselves. Those who act as advocates for nursing home residents argue that, because of inadequate staffing and other problems, care can be compromised. For example, Federal law requires only one registered nurse (RN) on the day shift for facilities as large as 500 beds. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and nurses’ aides are left to take up the slack. Therefore, a number of the new rules focus on such personnel. Proposed Changes by the HHS In July of 2015, as part of the White House Conference on Aging, the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revealed updates to existing regulations in order to improve care for those in nursing homes and LTC facilities. The new rules and regulations would[…..]

Privacy Rights In Nursing Homes

We recently wrote about the use of “granny cams” in nursing homes and the provisions in Maryland law which protect the right to privacy of nursing home residents. The right to privacy is a feature of the Bill of Rights for nursing home patients, included in the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA). Certain aspects of patient privacy are also protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Maryland permits a nursing home resident or family member to request installation of a fixed video camera in the resident’s room (although the facility is not required to grant the request), but care must be taken not to record a roommate or any other resident, to safeguard their privacy. But what about videos or photographs taken by nursing home staff? Are they allowed? Not if they violate the resident’s privacy. An employee who takes, and perhaps shares, unauthorized pictures or videos may be guilty of violating §483.13(b) of the NHRA, which prohibits mental abuse – and that includes humiliation – and/or §483.15, which requires nursing homes to maintain the dignity and respect of each resident. Unfortunately, with the widespread availability of cell phones with still and video camera capabilities, we’re hearing[…..]

10 Things You Need To Know About “Granny Cams”

The website reports that, according to recent studies, between 1 and 2 million people over the age of 65 residing in a nursing home setting are victims of abuse or neglect. That number may be understated since many elderly nursing home patients are either afraid or unable to communicate to their loved ones that they are being mistreated. Many advocacy groups are urging the use of technology to document the conditions under which vulnerable older people live. Video cameras – sometimes called “granny cams” — may tell the story that abused patients cannot tell. Maryland is one of only five states in the U.S. that allows the placement of cameras in nursing homes. (The others are Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Washington.) In fact, Maryland was one of the first states to consider electronic monitoring. The first attempt at legislating this form of patient protection was sponsored in 2001 by Maryland State Delegate Sue Hecht, who witnessed the abuse of her grandmother, Vera, in a nursing home. The bill failed to pass during that session and was introduced again in 2002; that bill also died in committee. Finally (as they say, three times is a charm), Vera’s Law became[…..]

Wrongful Death in Assisted Living Facilities

Unfortunately, when residents of assisted living facilities pass away, the cause may not always be natural. Sometimes wrongful deaths at assisted living homes take the lives of our loved ones, and tragically, those deaths could have been prevented. An Example of a Wrongful Death in an Assisted Living Facility Walk a mile in these shoes: Your elderly mother, who has multiple ailments and dementia, has been in a Maryland assisted living facility for eight months. At 7:30 a.m., an aide reports to a medical staff member that your mom has symptoms of fever, but the medical aide says she is too busy to check on her. Even by 10:00 p.m., no one has assessed her condition, which has worsened to include vomiting and severe diarrhea with blood loss. Aides clean her up, but she is not seen by a nurse or a doctor. Sometime after 8:00 a.m. the next day, the facility calls 911, but it is too late. Your mother has died of neglect. She wasn’t given last rites, and you didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, because when they finally did call you they did not convey the seriousness of her illness. You trusted them to give[…..]