Senior Housing News had the following article:

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard introduced the “Nursing Home Patient Protection & Standards Act” (H.R. 6261) that aims to provide consistent standards in nursing homes across the nation. H.R. 6261 would provide training and whistleblower protections for the surveyors who oversee the quality of care provided by nursing home facilities as well as creates an advisory committee comprised of nursing home stakeholders to work together to ensure the quality of care improves.
According to a November 2009 GAO Report, nursing home inspectors known as surveyors are being improperly pressured to ‘under-report’ the problems with care of nursing home residents. The GAO found that state legislators, industry representatives and other groups put pressure on these surveyors and in some cases compromise the entire nursing home inspection process,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard. “This is unacceptable. My bill will target inspection tampering by extending federal whistleblower protections to surveyors who oversee the quality of care provided by nursing home facilities. While the patients, their needs, and the models for care may differ, it is crucial to have strong, uniform quality standards and real accountability in the nursing home industry. This legislation doesn’t add one penny to federal spending while greatly increasing the consumer protections for nursing home recipients.”

 

Poll Shows Beneficiaries Largely Unaware of New Measures to Close “Donut Hole”

Medicare’s Part D prescription drug coverage continues to enjoy strong support among the nation’s seniors, with a new survey showing that 84 percent of beneficiaries are satisfied with their coverage and more than 80 percent saying their Part D premiums and co-payments are affordable.

The survey of 1,243 Medicare beneficiaries conducted by KRC Research was commissioned by the Medicare Today coalition, an alliance of more than 400 national and local organizations committed to providing seniors and near-retirees with reliable information on Medicare benefits and program changes.

“The Medicare Part D program continues to defy its doubters,” said Mary R. Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council and co-chair of Medicare Today. “At its outset, critics said health plans wouldn’t participate in Part D, but today seniors have ample choices of affordable plans. They said the program would cost too much, but the last Medicare trustees report reported costs are 41 percent below initial expectations. And they said seniors would find the program too confusing, but it remains enormously popular.”

In fact, the KRC Research survey found that 94 percent of Medicare beneficiaries say they understand how their plan works and they know how to use it. And, among the beneficiaries who do not have Part D coverage, only six percent said it’s because the program is too complicated.

With the Medicare Part D open season – during which beneficiaries have the ability to move from one coverage plan to another – beginning on November 15 and continuing until the end of the year, the KRC Research survey found that 65 percent of beneficiaries feel no need to shop around for another plan while 31 percent said it is very likely they will compare their current plan’s costs and benefits with available alternatives. This, Ms. Grealy said, indicates that the majority of consumers are finding value in their current prescription drug plans.

Ms. Grealy said the survey research underscores the need for both public and private sectors to continue outreach to the Medicare beneficiary community with information about the Part D program. She noted that only one in five seniors are aware that eligible beneficiaries who have drug spending that places them in the so-called “donut hole” will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs beginning next year.

“Seniors on limited incomes need to plan their spending and budget their resources and it’s important they know about these changes. Congress and the nation’s pharmaceutical companies have taken significant steps to reduce out-of-pocket spending for these ‘donut hole’ seniors and we need to raise awareness of these changes,” she said. She also stressed that work must continue to reach out to low-income beneficiaries who can receive Medicare prescription drug coverage at little or no cost.

More information on the KRC Research survey can be found at www.medicaretoday.org.
 

The website Change of Address created a list of the Top 40 Nursing Home blogs for Families.  We are proud to announce that SCNursingHomeLaw.com was ranked #12.  Please check out the website.

Below is the list of the Top 40 nursing home blogs:

1. Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Blog
http://blog.levinperconti.com/
This is an incredibly informational blog and the information is not specific to Illinois. You can stay on top of lawsuits involving nursing home care and much more with this blog which is updated daily with very relevant and professional articles.

2. Nursing Home Administrator
http://nursinghomeguy.blogspot.com/
This is a really informal and interesting blog that sees nursing homes from the eyes of an administrator including some deep articles centered around dealing with the inevitability of dying.

3. Nursing Home Administrator
http://nursinghomeadministrator.wordpress.com/
This is a similar blog that was really active in 2008 and 2009, but contains some well written and good articles for families.

4. Nursing Home Talk
http://www.nursinghometalk.com/
This is a great blog for keeping track of what is happening in the industry from passing NHA exams to prescription drug cost assistance. This blogger is a licensed home nursing administrator.

5. Setting the Nursing Home on Fire
http://settingthenursinghomeonfire.blogspot.com/
Okay, don’t get the wrong idea… This blogger is trying to inspire future and current nursing home administrators to innovate inside their nursing homes (this has nothing to do with matches).

6. Nursing Homes Abuse Blog
http://www.nursinghomesabuseblog.com/
If you bookmark one blog from this list, make sure it is this one if you want to stay on top of all news surrounding nursing home abuse. This blog is always kept current and full of real world examples that drive the point home regarding the need for oversight in our nursing homes.

7. Legal Medicine
http://legalmedicine.blogspot.com/
The blog offers discussion on topics about medical malpractice and nursing home abuse cases in a legal, but easy to understand way. One recent article title was “Let’s Put the Elderly in Jail”, see what inspired that title when you get a chance.

8. Nursing Home and Hospital Surveyor
http://nursinghomesurveyor.com/
Here you can learn practical things like what you need to do before meeting with a lawyer about nursing home care issues or abuse.

9. The Happy Hospitalist
http://thehappyhospitalist.blogspot.com/
This is a very active medical blog that tackles nursing home related care issues from the hospital’s perspective (daily informative articles are available).

10. Hospice and Nursing Homes
http://hospiceandnursinghomes.blogspot.com/
This blog is managed by a writer and hospice volunteer. Most of her topics talk about news and insights related to elderly care, nursing homes, and other health and death-related matters which are covered in articles, videos and interesting images.

11. My Better Nursing Home
http://mybetternursinghome.blogspot.com/
This is a really interesting blog that tackles issues like substance abuse inside of nursing homes which is not something that people think about every day, but given the number of prescriptions it makes complete sense.

12. South Carolina Nursing Home Blog
http://www.scnursinghomelaw.com/
Another very useful and well written legal block focused on various type of cases involving abuse in nursing homes. Again, not specific to just South Carolina.

13. The Guardian Blog
http://www.theguardianblog.com/
This blog discusses the rise in the number of nursing home abuse cases and addresses concerns around needing to prepare for a much larger number of aging baby boomers.

14. Nursing Home Blog
http://nursing-home-blog.com/
So many sad stories, but all of them are important for people looking to avoid running into similar issues. It’s really important to learn from what has happened to others while living in nursing homes.

15. Pennsylvania Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Blog
http://www.pennsylvanianursinghomeabuseattorneyblog.com/
Here we have a legal blog that is written by a group of attorneys in Pennsylvania but covers cases of abuse from all over the country.

16. Elder Care at Home
http://alzheimerscareathome.com/
This blog focuses on Alzheimer’s disease as well as the efforts to take care of our elders at home and the daily challenges that families face when they embark on that journey.

17. Care Crunch
http://www.carecrunch.com/blog/
Wow! This blog is interesting because it talks about ways to keep the elderly active by exercising and other techniques depending upon the condition of the patients.

18. Aging Home Health Care
http://www.aginghomehealthcare.com/index.html
If you are committed to home health care but thinking about a nursing home you may find some assistance through the articles, news, and links on this blog.

19. Home Care Law Blog
http://www.homecarelawblog.com/
This is a blog discussing the legal and policy issues in the home health care, private duty, and hospice industries, from a well established law firm.

20. South Carolina Nursing Home Lawyer
http://www.southcarolinanursinghomelawyerblog.com/
This is a legal blog as well but they have articles that also focus on helping people choose the right nursing home for their loved one and more items like that which extend beyond legal analysis.

21. New York Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog
http://www.newyorknursinghomeabuselawyerblog.com/
-know the latest legal nursing home issues inside the state of New York from this blog.

22. Kentucky Injury law Blog
http://www.kentuckyinjurylawblog.com/nursing_home_abuse/
This legal blog is not quite as current but it does have some interesting cases and insights that could be really helpful.

23. Legal Nurse Consultant Tom
http://legalnurseconsultanttom.com/?page_id=8
This is blog comes to us from a legal nurse’s perspective. I really like the way the writer approaches this blog as you really get a lot of good information on patient safety in nursing homes.

24. Nursing Homes Elderly
http://nursinghomeselderly.com/
This one is a bit older (where did our writer go?). However, it is still very useful for a look at what others have been through in pretty much every State (lots of articles on this blog).

25. GNCS Health Care
http://gncshealthcare.blogspot.com/
This blog covers various types of training that are available for elderly care be it at home, hospice, or in a nursing home.

26. Code Blog
http://www.codeblog.com/
This nurse is a great writer (plain, well written articles) and includes a lot of real world stories that really bring up great points regarding care for the elderly.

27. Medskul.com http://www.medskul.com/forum/showthread.php?t=174
Let’s branch out and recognize that nursing home care and elderly care is a World-wide issue. This is a blog from the Philippines that covers relevant current events in that country.

28. Advisor Med
http://www.advisormedblog.com/
This blog contains the latest buzz in healthcare including nursing homes and various illnesses. There are some really sad stories in there as well, but important to note.

29. Blog of the Nation
http://www.npr.org/blogs/talk/2009/03/building_a_better_nursing_home.html
This is an excellent article about building a better nursing home… Find out what the author is thinking.

30. Minnesota Nursing Home and Neglect Attorney
http://www.mnnursinghomeneglect.com/blog
This blog focuses on nursing home neglect as well as other nursing care related issues. Neglect in general though is very common so something that every family should be aware of.

31. Guide to Nursing Homes
http://www.guidetonursinghomes.com/index.html
This is a bit of a commercial site but it is really helpful for those that are trying to find a nursing home (they have a great database of nursing homes). However, they also have some great articles covering various aspects of nursing home selection criteria.

32. Elderly Work
http://www.elderlywork.com/2010/09/how-to-select-a-nursing-home-or-an-assisted-living-home/
This is a straight-forward article on how to choose the right nursing home for your loved one.

33. Hybrid Jungle
http://www.hybridjungle.net/2010/09/24/nursing-home-care/
This blog actually covers a wide array of topics but includes a quick writeup about nursing home care.

34. Senior Home Care Association
http://www.seniorhomecareinformation.com/
This blog covers all kinds of illness that are common to the elderly along with some different ways to deal with each of them whether your loved one is in a nursing home or assisted living facility or not.

35. LawMed.Com
http://www.lawmed.com/nursinghome/
There are some inspiring articles about patients living to be 103 as well as some truly frightening stories on this blog. It’s really well written and very active, I highly recommend this one!

36. California Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog
http://www.nursinghomeabuselawyerblog.com/
Find out all of the latest court cases involving nursing cares in the State of California (and around the country). This is sponsored by another really dedicated law firm.

37. Hashemian Blog
http://www.hashemian.com/blog/2006/07/nursing-home-and-aging.htm
This article touches on some of the challenges of deciding when a person belongs in a nursing home or assisted living center.

38. Health is the greatest wealth
http://www.news-healthy.com/?p=320
This talks about how nursing homes SHOULD help extend the health and lives of our loved ones (a.k.a. elderly).

39. Hospice Blog
http://www.hospiceblog.org/2006/04/hospices-nursing-homes-and-risk.html
-This is an older but great article about risk management for hospices and nursing homes.

40. Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
http://www.chicagonursinghomeabuselawyerblog.com/
Finally, we finish off with a very current and well-maintained legal blog from some attorneys in Chicago. Lots of videos and good information on nursing home related court cases and what to do if you find yourself in need of an attorney to address nursing home abuse or neglect
 

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) published a report called Toxic Medicine: What You Should Know to Fight the Misuse of Psychoactive Drugs in California Nursing Homes.   It should be mandatory reading for all Administrators and Medical Directors.

The Florida Times-Union had an article about the recent arrests in Savannah, Georgia for Medicare Fraud.  The investigation, dubbed Diagnosis Dollars, resulted in the arrests of 52 people across the U.S. in what authorities described as "the largest Medicare fraud scheme ever perpetrated by a single criminal enterprise."

A federal indictment unsealed names five Armenians and a Savannah woman as among 73 defendants in an organized crime ring that submitted more than $163 million in phony Medicare claims. Six defendants indicted are accused of opening five sham clinics in Brunswick, Savannah and Macon that they used in a conspiracy to defraud Medicare of $4 million.  See also L.A. Times article here.  Nationwide, the ring operated at least 118 phony clinics in 25 states.

The indictment names Armenians Arthur Manasarian, 58; Gegham Sargsyan, 56; Khoren Gasparian, 27; Sahak Tumanyan, 43, and his wife, Hamsik Tumanyan, 38; and Toni R. Lowery, 27, of Savannah.   Manasarian and the Tumanyans were arrested in the Los Angeles area while Lowery was arrested in Savannah. Sargsyan and Gasparian are fugitives and are thought to be outside the country, he said.

The indictment names one of the phony businesses, Brunswick Medical Supply Inc. at 1603 Gloucester St., and names Sargsyan as its president. The address now houses a photography studio that has portraits on display in its windows. There were three sham businesses in Savannah and one in Macon, the indictment says.

The defendants used misappropriated physicians’ names and Medicare provider numbers to submit fraudulent claims from those rented business addresses. The physicians and patients had no idea their Medicare information was being used to submit false bills.

The four arrested in the indictment unsealed in Brunswick are among 52 arrested, the U.S. Justice Department said in a news release.

A Justice Department release laid out the huge size of the organization that operated in New York, Los Angeles and internationally. It was named after its principal leaders, Davit Mirzoyan and Robert Terdjanian, two defendants in the case filed in New York. The ring includes a select group of criminals from Russia and countries that were part of the former Soviet Union including Armenia, the Justice Department said.

Conspiracy to commit health care fraud is punishable by a maximum 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of health care fraud is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine up to $500,000.

 

Unbeknownst to many nursing home residents and their families, more and more facilities are slipping forced arbitration clauses into the fine print of lengthy admission contracts as a way to avoid accountability for abuse and negligence. Families often sign these clauses while under considerable stress and anxiety and without realizing they are being stripped of their right their right to take any case of abuse or negligence to court. Most families do not realize the nursing home industry is trying to violate the Constitution’s right to a jury trial. 

Republicans and Democrats in Congress have introduced legislation to ban forced arbitration in nursing home and other consumer contracts – the bipartisan Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act. This bill will ban pre-dispute forced arbitration clauses from nursing home contracts. Most arbitration companies such as AAA, NAF, and AHLA no longer are willing to participate in mandatory pre-dispute arbitration.

Nursing homes are now big business. Corporate chains are anticipating a flood of baby boomers moving into their facilities over the next few years. This increased emphasis on profits has led to a distressing rise in neglected and abused seniors. Between 2000 and 2008, instances of “immediate jeopardy”—violations likely to result in serious harm or even death—rose 22 percent. More than 90 percent of all nursing homes were guilty of at least one violation.

There are many laws and regulations aimed at protecting seniors. Yet government agencies, non-profit watchdogs and media organizations consistently report that serious problems exist in our nation’s nursing homes.

The same is true of insurance companies that mislead and defraud vulnerable seniors. Insurance industry regulators protest that they can do nothing. Even when they do raise their hands, they more often than not strike deals to keep fines to a minimum and settlements secret.

With the regulatory and legislative bodies unable to cope with a groundswell of neglect and abuse, the civil justice system has stepped into the breach. Attorneys who represent our nation’s seniors, and their families, play a critical role in uncovering abuse and neglect.

Congress must pass this legislation to protect our vulnerable elderly population and their families.  Please contact your representative and ask him to push this legislation to a vote.

 

 

KAALTV.com had an article about the lenient plea deal with Ashton Larson who had more than a dozen felony charges related to abusive treatment of nursing home residents under her care.  Larson was charged with about twenty counts of elder abuse.   All of it happening at the Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea where she worked.

In the deal, she pleaded guilty to only three counts of disorderly conduct by a caregiver. 

Now the judge has ordered a pre-sentence investigation to determine a sentence, which will be handed down on December 22, 2010.
 

Rome News-Tribune has had several articles about the exploits of George Houser and how they affect the care provided at his nursing homes.  One jury has already found neglect and ordered his companies to pay $37 million.  Now another family is claiming their loved one was neglected during his five-week stay, and the lack of care led to his eventual death.  The patient developed multiple preventable pressure ulcers that went untreated and became infected.  On Nov. 7, 2008, Solomon Siegel was taken to the emergency room with an elevated white blood cell count indicating sepsis. Nine days later he died.

Solomon Siegel Jr  entered Summit Health and Rehabilitation Center on in Rome, Georgia on Oct. 3, 2008, for rehabilitation for a stroke. He was 79 at the time. Houser was still acting as part owner/operator when Solomon Siegel died.  Houser and his wife, Rhonda Houser, are facing federal criminal charges after being arrested for defrauding Medicaid and Medicare out of $30 million.

Also named as defendants are Subacute Services Inc., SAS — Mount Berry Inc. and Mount Berry Convalescent Center LLC.  In 2007, the three nursing homes operated under Houser’s Forum Medical Group name closed, including what was then called Mount Berry Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Three Mile Road. The closings came after the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informed the Forum Medical Group that it would no longer pay for care unless improvements were made. The Three Mile Road site later reopened as Summit Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Siegel contends that the nursing home staff failed “in numerous ways to provide the care, treatment and series that her husband needed in a skilful and non-negligent manner.”

She specifies that the nursing home failed to follow federal and state requirements for a long-term care facility and did not follow standard medical and nursing practices.

 

 

New AAJ report "Standing Up for Seniors" shows how litigation holds nursing homes, insurance companies accountable when they target nation’s seniors.  The report illustrates how the civil justice system is the most effective force in uncovering abuses by corporate nursing homes and insurance companies that target elderly Americans.

 

There are 1.5 million elderly Americans currently residing in nursing homes – facilities that are now operated by mostly large corporate chains banking on the upcoming influx of baby boomers. Many of these vulnerable residents have suffered abuse by staff members and even died from dehydration or infection caused by inadequate care. The report explains how litigation has revealed this neglect and abuse and allowed residents and their families to hold offending corporations accountable.

 

“Corporate nursing homes and insurance companies have continually chosen to put profits ahead of the well-being of our most vulnerable population,” said AAJ President Gibson Vance. “Where regulatory and legislative bodies have been unable to cope with this distressing rise of neglect and abuse of our elderly, the civil justice system has stepped into the breach.”

 

A common theme in the report is abuse by insurance companies taking advantage of senior citizens. It highlights the story of a South Dakota farmer named Rudy, who was one of a flood of patients that companies signed up for long-term care insurance in the 1990s. Rudy moved into a nursing home at his doctor’s suggestion, only to have his benefits cut after three years when the company declared his care was no longer “medically necessary,” despite faithfully paying his monthly premium.

 

Thousands of seniors met similar fates as insurance companies miscalculated mortality rates and searched for ways to deny claims and cut off benefits, figuring few of their terminated policyholders would fight back. Trial attorneys across the country eventually found evidence of corporate programs aimed at terminating seniors’ benefits, and helped stop these deplorable practices.

 

Unfortunately, while litigation has revealed incidences of abuse and neglect, many other offenses never see the light of day due to nursing homes inserting forced arbitration clauses in the fine print of lengthy admission contracts. Residents and their families often sign these contracts while under considerable stress and anxiety without realizing they are being stripped of their access to court. Congress has introduced legislation to ban forced arbitration in nursing home and other consumer contracts.

 

 

 

ChicoER had an article about allegations of abuse at Evergreen Gridley Healthcare Center in California. William Bonds alleges he was not properly treated and was forced treatment on him that he didn’t want.   According to the suit, Bonds, now deceased, was admitted to Evergreen Gridley Healthcare Center on Sept. 8, 2009, because of "functional decline."  The lawsuit, filed by Bonds’ daughter Shirleen Latham states when Bonds was admitted, his doctor had ordered that he receive Aldactone, a diuretic to control the buildup of excess body fluids, and leads to death if untreated.

Evergreen did not administer any diuretic until Sept. 11, and as a result, Bonds’ body began to swell, especially his legs. That same day, when the patient’s doctor was informed of this problem, he ordered Lasix, but none of it was administered until Sept. 12.

"The several days Mr. Bonds went without a diuretic resulted in severe generalized edema (accumulation of fluids), which became difficult to control and resulted in severe and painful skin blisters," the suit stated. "Furthermore, as a result of the severe edema, Mr. Bonds’ health condition significantly deteriorated and he lost interest in his own health. He subsequently began to refuse health care."

On Sept. 14, Bonds was unable to eat his meals. When he failed to have a bowel movement for several days, he was given a laxative, which did not help. He was dying.  Then he was given a suppository, which he did not want and which also had no effect.  He became very upset about the suppository because "by this point he simply wanted to be left alone to die as peacefully as possible."

The next day, a registered nurse told a licensed vocational nurse to give Bonds an enema. The licensed vocational nurse reminded the registered nurse that the patient was on "comfort care" and that he was not to be given unnecessary treatment, and especially treatment he did not want.

The RN ordered the LVN to give the enema anyway. The LVN discussed the matter with Bonds, who insisted he did not want the enema. So the LVN complied with his wish.  The LVN who disobeyed the RN was fired immediately.

Then the RN got two other staff members, physically restrained the frail and weak Bonds, and despite his "protestations and screams," forced him to have the enema, "causing him extreme physical and emotional distress." This was done, even though the nursing home administration knew "that Mr. Bonds was on comfort care and was mentally capable of refusing consent to any treatment."    Bonds was of sound mind, he had the right to deny any treatment he did not want as long as withholding it didn’t jeopardize the health or safety of anyone else.

Evergreen Gridley Healthcare Center is owned by Evergreen Healthcare Management, a company based in the state of Washington.  It manages 43 nursing homes, including three in Butte County. Besides the one in Gridley, it manages Twin Oaks in Chico and Olive Ridge Care Center in Oroville.