Posts tagged with "nursing home negligence"

Staffing Issues that Can Contribute to Nursing Home Negligence

Staffing Issues That Can Contribute to Nursing Home Negligence

It is always a tough situation when a loved one must transition to a nursing home. As a relative, you no doubt research nursing homes in your area in order to find the most suitable living environment, with the assurance that your loved one’s needs will be met and that they will be well taken care of.

However, quite often those living in a nursing home face abuse and neglect. When such circumstances occur to someone you love, you feel a great deal of anger. While you may not be able to reverse the damage that has been done, be it physical or mental, but legal action can ensure that you and your loved one receives just compensation, as well as assurance that those responsible for the negligence are held responsible.

You can also hopefully avoid any such negligent behavior by choosing a nursing home that is adequately staffed. While there may be a variety of reasons staff members elect to neglect the patients in their care, it is understaffing itself that more often than not directly contributes to nursing home negligence.

Reasons Why a Nursing Home May Be Understaffed

There are many reasons while a nursing home may experience staffing issues and a general shortage of competent staff. For starters, there is a shortage of healthcare workers and nurse practitioners in the United States, with a great need to fill thousands of future positions in nursing homes and healthcare facilities.

The growth of nursing homes across the United States has created many positions that just aren’t being filled quickly enough. A new nursing home may appear clean, efficient and appealing, but you should also be sure that it is fully staffed before choosing to administer a loved one there.

A nursing home may also be understaffed if its employees aren’t paid fairly. Low wages can lead to a high turnover rate (not to mention the fact that it doesn’t give workers a great incentive to perform their job well). A high turnover rate also means new staff must be trained, which essentially means staff that is unfamiliar with your loved one’s particular needs and daily routine. Low pay could also result in not too many applicants accepting a position, as they may seek a position elsewhere for higher pay.

When visiting nursing homes for consideration, ask some of the staff how long they have been there, if they enjoy working there and if much of the staff has been there very long. If they answer honestly, you can get a good idea of how well the place may be staffed and if the staff is happy there.

A nursing home may also expect too much of its staff. A staff member who must handle multiple responsibilities that are better served by additional staff members is unlikely to have the time to sufficiently see to the need of his or her patients.

And finally, nursing home management may simply refuse to hire the proper amount of staff in order to keep profits high.

Negligence: The Unfortunate Consequence of Nursing Home Understaffing

As you might have now realized (or even experienced already with a loved one currently in a nursing home), understaffing can cause serious problems in a nursing home, especially patient neglect. Such neglect isn’t always intentional — as mentioned above, staff members can often be overwhelmed with many responsibilities and daily tasks, making it hard to give their patients the time and care they require.

Additionally, staff that isn’t treated properly by management or paid poorly can become disgruntled. As employee morale suffers, so too does their work ethic, and the overall work dynamic can lead to instances of abuse or neglect.

With many patients dependent upon nursing home staff for a large amount of care, neglect can lead to physical injury, psychological trauma and even death. Patients that are suffering from limited mobility are dependent upon their caregivers to help them move in order to avoid maladies such as atrophy or bedsores.

Additionally, receiving medication and food at the proper times, being provided with regular bathing and grooming, and help with going to the bathroom are all basic needs that can be overlooked or neglected due to understaffing.

Legal Repercussions of Nursing Home Understaffing

Nursing homes have a legal obligation to provide proper care for the patients within their walls. Failure to do so can often result in strict fines, and rampant episodes of neglect and abuse have served to shut down many nursing homes. Additionally, nursing homes have been sued for wrongful death and/or illness of patients in their care that suffered due to neglect.

With understaffing being recognized as one of the leading causes of abuse and neglect in nursing homes, it is being viewed more and more as a crime. Staffing violations should be reported so as to ensure that no patient suffers needlessly.

If you or a loved one has experienced abuse or neglect in a nursing home, contact the law office of Colucci Colucci Marcus & Flavin, PC. Our personal injury attorneys can help you take the necessary steps to receive just compensation and/or justice in cases relating to nursing home understaffing and neglect. You may call us at (617) 698-6000, or you can also contact us online to set up your free initial consultation.

Nursing Home Neglect

How to Tell If a Nursing Home Is Neglecting a Loved One

Nursing homes and other assisted living care facilities are businesses a family hires to look after elderly loved one who can no longer safely look after themselves. Sadly, a lot of these places let folks down and nursing home neglect is a growing problem in America as the Baby Boomer generation ages and more of its members require assistance.

It’s common to find nursing homes that are understaffed or that lack adequate services, but the average person may not be able to tell which places are superb and which ones allow people to suffer. If you suspect your loved one isn’t being taken care of properly, try these simple strategies.

 

Ask Questions

Go right up to staff and ask them how many people are on duty, and how many seniors they are looking out for. Don’t be afraid to ask people about their credentials and qualifications. Do you see mostly teenagers and college students working there?

If something looks odd or out of place to you, ask about it. Is another resident in a wheelchair just left in the hallway facing the corner? Don’t be shy, ask what is going on.

 

Listen to Complaints

Most people being taken care of in nursing homes still have their wits about them, and if your loved one is talking about a problem, take them seriously. The seniors themselves are often the best source of information about problems in the nursing home. If they say someone else isn’t being taken care of properly, follow up on it and see if it’s true.

 

Pay Attention to Injuries

Does your senior have strange sores on their hips, heels, ankles or tailbone? That’s most likely a bedsore, and it’s the most common sign of nursing home neglect. These sores come from someone left lying in bed all day without being turned or moved.

Broken limbs are also a problem, and this can come from a senior who tried to move on their own and fall, such as if the staff doesn’t respond to their requests for help. That’s not the fault of your loved one, that’s a neglect issue and it needs to be followed up.

 

What Can You Do?

If someone from your family has been neglected at a nursing home or other care facility, give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657 or contact us and we can talk to you about your rights and what you can do next.

Three Things You Need to Hold a Facility Liable for Nursing Home Negligence

We’re always eager to take on nursing home negligence cases. There’s a large industry that far too often takes advantage of people and consistently understaffs its facilities, despite making a lot of money from families and the government. People get hurt when the staff can’t stay on top of everyone’s needs, and if you know someone who has been hurt please give us a call and we can talk about the legal options you have.

We are happy to explain to you over the phone or in person as to what is needed to make a case against a retirement home. In the meantime, here’s an overview of the three basic steps needed:

 

Liability

Just like any other personal injury case, a nursing home negligence case requires that the resident was harmed while they were under the care of the defendant. Was the resident hurt because of the negligent actions of the nursing home staff or administration?

As an example, we’ll use bed sores, which are the most common type of nursing home negligence injuries we see. Bed sores happen when someone is allowed to lie down for long stretches at a time and the pressure of their weight on a surface harms the body. We need to show that the resident received these injuries while lying in a nursing home bed owned by the defendant.

 

Causation

Causation means that the injury was caused by the actions of the staff or administration. In our bed sores case, did staff members fail to turn over or move the patient from time to time? Were there too few people on staff to keep up with each and every nursing home resident? It’s not enough that the injury occurred while at the nursing home, it also has to be caused by the actions or lack of actions from the people who work there.

 

Damages

Lastly, now that we’ve established where the bed sores occurred and why they occured, we have to show that the bed sores harmed the senior we represent. Bed sores are an actual injury, and they are both easy to spot and easy to demonstrate that they are harmful. We can then show the medical intervention needed to care for the victim. These have to be actual sustained injuries, not potential injuries that were narrowly avoided.

With liability, causation and damages all demonstrated, we are able to continue the case and seek compensation from the nursing home who causes the inexcusable injuries. Remember, we’re the experts, you don’t have to come to us with the proof of liability, causation or damages. We will investigate to make your case as strong as it can be.

The most important thing you need to do is contact us as soon as you suspect there is a problem, as the sooner we get started the better your chances will be of receiving justice. You can visit our website at www.ColucciLaw.com or give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657.

Tales from our files – Lessons Learned Concerning Nursing Home Care

Nursing Home Care

My legal practice is concentrated in assisting victims of nursing home negligence throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Over my twenty-five year career, I believe I’ve seen nearly every conceivable fact pattern concerning neglect and abuse at these facilities. It recently occurred to me that providing examples of the problems that my clients have encountered over the years might serve a useful purpose in helping others to avoid common lapses in nursing home care.

Upon the initial admission to a nursing home, the staff is obligated to conduct an assessment of each patient to properly assess that person’s needs and to create an individualized “Care Plan” for them. If done correctly, the assessment will determine, among other things, whether an immobile patient requires assistance in “transferring” or moving from bed to chair or to the bathroom. The overall safety and welfare of the patient is the principle concern, of course. Sometimes, however, facilities are either understaffed, unprepared or simply “too busy” to properly and safely address the critical needs of their residents.

I had the honor to represent an 88 year old woman that I’ll call “Ann.” She had long been a resident of the defendant’s facility due to advanced Alzheimer’s Disease and other medical complications. Sadly, Ann was unable to verbally express herself, was non-ambulatory and remained completely dependent upon the defendant’s staff for all activities of daily living. Despite her many medical complications, Ann did not suffer from osteoporosis, however. The importance of this latter fact will become clear as you read on.

One day, Ann was being transferred to her bed with the use of a machine known as a Hoyer lift. It was immediately after this transfer that the she began to crudely express that she was in pain. Oddly, no trauma, fall or other “event” was recorded by the defendant’s employees in Ann’s medical chart. When her pain became unbearable, Ann was transferred to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a markedly displaced femur fracture with fragmentation and a massive hematoma. Her extensive injuries required immediate surgery. Ann’s family suspected that she had been dropped during the transfer on the Hoyer lift but the facility vigorously denied this. The case was further complicated inasmuch as there was no independent witness to any suspected accident. We argued that the displaced fracture of the patient’s femur, the body’s largest and strongest bone, was sufficient evidence that a trauma had indeed occurred. Moreover, we argued that the “fragmentation” (splintered bones) and “hematoma” (deep bruising) were corroborating evidence of a traumatic event that the facility had conveniently neglected to record. In response, the facility hired a medical expert who was prepared to testify at trial that Ann could have suffered her fracture by “organic means” (e.g. brittle bones in the elderly can sometimes break spontaneously-without a trauma). They cited the common occurrence of a senior suffering a rib fracture after a hearty sneeze. We successfully refuted this suggestion by conclusively demonstrating that Ann did not previously suffer from osteoporosis or other skeletal degeneration which would tend to make her bones exceedingly brittle and thus subject to fracture without first suffering a trauma. During the course of our investigation we also discovered that, even before Ann was a resident, this particular facility engaged in a systemic failure to promptly and accurately report accidents that injured their residents.

A large settlement was reached on the eve of trial, presumably because the facility was fairly convinced that a jury would likely punish them for their deception in failing to own up to their role in both causing and properly reporting Ann’s accident.

As always, a family’s best defense against nursing home neglect is both vigilance and active involvement in the care of their loved one.

Nursing Home Negligence And Protecting The “Greatest Generation”

Nursing Home Negligence

Our country’s annual celebration of the 4th of July holiday always brings to mind the many sacrifices that have been made down the years to guarantee the freedom that too many of us take for granted during the remainder of the year. From the “baby boomers” who lived through the strife of the Viet Nam era to the most revered members of the “greatest generation”, our ranks of senior citizens is dramatically swelling. Indeed, conservative estimates suggest that the number of people aged 65 and older will more than double between 2010 and 2050. This equates to 88.5 million people or 20 percent of our entire population. In addition, those aged 85 and older will rise three-fold, to 19 million citizens, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Recent times have also seen a dramatic increase in Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America suggests that 5.1 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease—most of whom currently reside in a nursing home facility. This number is expected to dramatically increase over the next 25 years and researchers are at a loss to explain why.

With an ever increasing population of senior citizens comes the obvious need for medical services and long-term nursing home care. As a result, traditional nursing home facilities are often overwhelmed and find that their resources are stretched beyond the limit of what is generally considered safe. Reliable projections reveal that this already overwhelming burden is ever increasing with more seniors necessitating a greater level of supervision and skilled nursing home care year to year. Unfortunately, it is apparent that the increased demands on nursing home care are proportional to a steady rise in medical mistakes. Nursing home patients are most commonly elderly, fragile and particularly susceptible to suffering life threatening consequences in instances that involve seemingly minimal instances of neglect. For example, leaving an elderly patient who is a known fall risk unattended for even a brief period of time can frequently lead to a fractured hip, the onset of pneumonia and eventually, premature death.

In recent times, advocacy groups like the National Quality Forum, a non-profit organization devoted toward developing a strategy for measuring the quality of healthcare in the United States, introduced the idea of “never events.” A “never event” is an event, mistake, or error that should never occur in the healthcare setting. The most common “never events” in a nursing home setting are:

  • bed sores;
  • pressure sores;
  • dehydration;
  • providing a patient with the wrong medicine;
  • providing a patient with the wrong dosage of medicine;
  • failing to properly assess a patient’s fall and choking risk;
  • dropping a patient thereby causing fractures;
  • failing to properly supervise a patient who is prone to choking;
  • failing to keep a patient from wandering or eloping from the facility; and,
  • failing to properly supervise a patient who is otherwise considered “at risk” of a particular danger or harm.

It is important to note that most nursing home staffs are comprised of competent, dedicated and generally well meaning individuals. The formidable burden that these medical professionals face, however, tax their ability to consistently deliver the type of quality healthcare that we would all want for our loved ones. To this end, greater vigilance is required of a patient’s family to identify perceived vulnerabilities and instances where care is seemingly substandard. A greater awareness of a patient’s ongoing needs and changing medical condition, (as well as a pro-active and collaborative relationship with a patient’s caregivers), is the best insurance against the often devastating consequences that follow from a “never event.”

Dino M. Colucci, Esquire, is a founder of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C., a law firm dedicated to representing victims of elder abuse and neglect. He is also an adjunct Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School.

Law Aims to Stop Misuse of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Homes

Across the country, nursing home residents are put on strong antipsychotic medications to treat such ailments as aggression and agitation. Often times, they are given these powerful medications for “off-label” uses without their consent or without the knowledge and consent of family members – sometimes leading to nursing home injuries. Some U.S. legislators would like to change that.

Antipsychotic medications are typically used to treat psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder, psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, and sometimes even dementia. Since more than half of nursing home residents suffer from some form of dementia, the use of antipsychotics in nursing homes has skyrocketed. Nursing homes across the country also report using antipsychotic medications to treat their residents for anxiety; in addition, some use them as a sleep aid or in place of antidepressants.

Some Side Effects of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Homes

Although antipsychotics can help in off-label situations, they are not approved for such uses and carry far too many risks to do so lightly. Antipsychotics are strong medications that carry grave potential side effects. Some of the side effects of antipsychotic medications include:

  • Weight gain, which can lead to diabetes
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Movement disorders
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure

These are especially dangerous for the elderly.

Efforts to Curtail Antipsychotic Medication Use in Nursing Homes

In light of these side effects, three U.S. senators have proposed a bill that would require nursing homes to gain written consent from a family member or designated health care agent before administering these powerful drugs to their residents. The bill would require nursing homes to provide information to family members about the possible side effects and risks associated with antipsychotics, as well as other treatment options available. The goal is to reduce the number of users at nursing homes and encourage alternative therapies. Other types of therapies include:

  • Message therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Distraction techniques
  • Social interaction
  • Calling family and friends
  • Water therapy

The three senators believe nursing homes have abused the use of antipsychotic drugs among the elderly for far too long. They are seeking to make sure nursing homes only use antipsychotic medications as a last resort, and that proper consent for such medications is given before administering them. In the meantime, family members of nursing home residents who have been given antipsychotics without their knowledge or against their will may wish to consider discussing their rights and options with an attorney, especially if their loved ones have suffered injury as a result of the facilities’ misuse of these medications.

Tales From Our Files – Lessons Learned Concerning Nursing Home Negligence

My legal practice is concentrated in assisting victims of nursing home negligence throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Over my twenty-five year career, I believe I’ve seen nearly every conceivable fact pattern concerning neglect and abuse at these facilities. It recently occurred to me that providing examples of the problems that my clients have encountered over the years might serve a useful purpose in helping others to avoid common lapses in nursing home care.

This second installment addresses a common problem encountered by nursing home patients—the risk and dangerous consequences of dehydration.

My firm represented an elderly man I’ll call “Gus” who was admitted to the defendant’s nursing home facility. Two days previous, he had suffered a stroke. He was admitted to the defendant’s facility to undergo rehabilitation and therapy as a result of the stroke. It is important to note that during the time that he was a patient at the defendant’s facility, he was totally dependent upon the staff for the most basic necessities of life. This included, but was not limited to, needs such as nourishment, hydration and hygiene. During Gus’s stay in the defendant’s facility, he exhibited overt signs that he was not receiving sufficient hydration. A review of his relevant medical records reveals some telling facts: (1) his average daily fluid intake translated to 1,084 cc or 53% of his anticipated need. This is clearly inadequate and lead inexorably to his ultimate dehydration; (2) Gus was ultimately observed to be “very dry” following a routine examination by a dentist. Notwithstanding this fact, no notification to doctors and staff of this important finding was forthcoming; (3) three days later, he had decreased tolerance of fluids (i.e. “sips”); (4) it was noticed that he developed difficulty swallowing; and, (5) he experienced increased lethargy, a likely consequence of his progressive dehydration. Once again, this finding was not properly identified or treated. Neither was Gus’s relatively sudden and significant weight loss.

Gus became non-responsive and was transported to the hospital as a result. Despite the hospital’s attempt to aggressively hydrate him, he died the following day.

We hired an expert who opined that the facility contained a host of deficiencies including their failure to promptly identify, report and aggressively treat the various symptoms and consequences of drastic dehydration. Moreover, our expert concluded that “[i]t seems evident to me that the care provided to [Gus] was substandard and likely resulted in his premature demise.”

I filed a lawsuit against the nursing home for Gus’s wrongful death. We ultimately settled the case for a substantial sum.

My advice is for family members to take an avid role as an advocate for their loved one who is in the nursing home. Only by being actively “involved” can you possibly prevent an accident from occurring.

Dino M. Colucci, Esquire, is a founder of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C., a law firm dedicated to representing victims of neglect. For many years he has lectured and served as an adjunct Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School. He has also been named as a “SuperLawyer” by his peers as published by Boston Magazine.

Gender May Put Elderly Men in Massachusetts at Risk for Abuse

Many elderly men in failing health are finding it difficult to get the care that they need – not for lack of health care facilities, but because there are not enough beds for men. Since the elderly female population is so much larger, two-thirds of patients in nursing homes are women. This, coupled with the fact that Medicaid will only pay for semiprivate rooms, makes it difficult for health care facilities to accommodate men since male and female patients cannot be roommates – and rooms already occupied by men are hard to come by.

As a result, families may be forced to place their elderly male loved ones in facilities that are less than ideal – including many that may have substandard patient care. And this can put male patients at risk for elder abuse and nursing home neglect.

What Is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse occurs when the people who are supposed to care for senior citizens intentionally inflict harm on them, or neglect them. This abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional or financial, and can often be caused by health care facility employees. In the case of nursing homes, some signs of abuse include:

  • Sudden weight loss, malnutrition or dehydration
  • Bedsores or other untreated infections
  • Unexplained bruises, cuts or broken bones
  • Bruises or marks on wrists or ankles
  • Unsanitary living conditions or soiled bedding

Elder Abuse on the Rise in Massachusetts

According to state social workers, there has been a 31 percent increase in the number of reported elder abuse cases in Massachusetts since 2008 – for both male and female together. In 2010 alone, there were 20,000 cases of elder abuse reported.

And, many more cases of elder abuse go unreported. A study conducted by Weill Cornell Medical College shows that for every case of elder abuse that is reported, there are about 24 cases that don’t get reported – oftentimes because the victim is dependent on the abuser in some way.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of nursing home neglect or abuse, contact an experienced attorney in your area today to be advised of your rights and options.

Avoid Nursing Home Negligence – Check out the nursing home over the holidays

Most people know about the trick of checking the batteries in smoke detectors when they set their clocks back. Well, how about a similar idea where you check the quality of care your loved ones in nursing home facilities and care centers are receiving each year when you see them for the holidays? To avoid nursing home negligence and abuse, it’s time to check in and monitor your loved ones care.

Nursing home negligence and abuse can happen over the holidays

Some people in nursing homes are medically capable of being picked up to spend time with their families on Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other holiday they celebrate. Other people need more help and their family gets to visit them inside their assisted living community.

Nursing Home Negligence & Abuse Lawyers, Boston Massachusetts

 

Nursing home care is important to monitor to avoid nursing home negligence, abuse or death

Whatever your family’s situation is, stop in and spend some time in your elderly loved one’s home. Pay attention and look around for little clues. Are there people placed in wheelchairs and left in a corner for a few hours? Does a call button go off for 15 minutes before someone answers it? Does something just seem off? Nursing home negligence can take many forms.

You might think the staff will put on their best behavior when they know families will come by, but that’s not always the case. Family members drop by nursing homes all the time so many staff members won’t see the point of concealing something that was already out in the open.

Holidays often mean a skeleton crew is working, and when the safety of your mother, father, aunt, uncle or other elder relative is at stake, don’t you want to know what things look like in the worst-case scenario? Emergencies can happen anytime.

Don’t forget to talk to your loved one about their own experiences. Does the staff respond to requests? Are they happy there? Are their needs being met? What do they think?

One evaluation will not be enough, however. The quality of a nursing home can fall over time, so make sure you check back from time to time. The quality of care of your loved one depends on it.

Nursing Home Negligence, why is it on the rise?

Is the incidence of nursing home negligence growing?

The biggest reason people go from a regular home to an assisted living facilities isn’t because they want to play shuffleboard or have lunch with the neighbors – it’s because they need assistance from trained staff members to help take care of them. In many cases assisted living patient care, can lead to nursing home negligence and abuse.

So why so much Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse?

The problem we see with nursing home negligence and abuse is that far too many nursing homes have a lack of staff. These are private businesses trying to bring in a profit, which we accept and understand. Unfortunately, some of those nursing home corporations decide to increase their profits by cutting down on the number of staff members.

That is to say, some assisted living facilities don’t have enough people on hand to actually assist with everyone’s living! This leads to frail people trying to walk to the bathroom on their own without assistance and falling. It leads to people being left alone to stare at the walls all day. It leads to needless suffering, misery and even death. It leads to nursing home negligence and abuse lawsuits.

We take quality of life issues very seriously, and stamping out nursing home negligence is a crusade at Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin. If your loved one has been harmed by a negligent or understaffed nursing home, please give us a call.

The problems come from retirement homes where the staff has too much to do or little oversight. In those places, residents are left to fend for themselves half the time and become disengaged.

An effective nursing home has a full staff of eager, helpful and kind people who take an avid role in the care of your loved ones. They get involved, they interact, and this leads to a decrease in accidents and a better quality of life. That’s the kind of assisting people need.

Find out what you should watch for to see if your nursing home facility is up to par on nursing home standards!