Carolina Live reported recently that Marion Nursing Center, Inc. is no longer receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding after it was found not to be in compliance with requirements for the programs, according to the Federal Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  Officials say they will continue making payments for those patients at the nursing center for up to 30 days until they can be placed in other facilities.

Federal healthcare terminate funding to nursing homes due to patient care issues and if that care isn’t provided in a safe environment.  According to a federal health inspection report, Marion Nursing Center has 88 beds for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

 

Connecticut became the first state to issue a new bill of rights for nursing home residents. Outspoken senior Mary Frost has been a key voice in bringing the sometimes terrifying reality of elder neglect and abuse in nursing homes into the political discourse. See full article here.

She spoke of missing meals, and workers refusing to change her diapers in retaliation for her complaints against them. The new bill is designed to give residents rights to file complaints and grievances. The training manual now in use in Connecticut is already being used in other states. Hopefully more legislation securing the care and rights of nursing home residents will follow.

Ryan Hughes is associated with MHA.org.uk and has experience working with people who have health and issues that comes with aging.  He was kind enough to write the below guest article.

Older folks who are living in a nursing care facility are either rehabbing from a serious injury, require consistent care, or are moving out of retirement living and preparing for the end of their lives. However, these people still deserve to have their dignity intact until they leave the facility. While staff can provide for many of the patient’s needs, they can’t always be there to talk or play a game with a patient when he or she is feeling blue or having a bad day.

Volunteers Can Bridge The Gap

Fortunately, there are many people who are willing to play checkers with, talk to or otherwise keep a patient company or provide them with comfort in their final days. Although a segment of society may consider the elderly as a burden, these volunteers can be a much needed friend for someone who may not have any family or friends left.

Why Do Nursing Care Patients Need Volunteers To Befriend Them?

Science has shown that a positive attitude can make it easier to recover from an injury. Having someone or something to look forward to can improve the mood of a patient and lead to improved health. Specifically, those who are in a good mood tend to get sick less, suffer less from fatigue and pain and have lower instances of depression.

Volunteers Can Make A Real Impact On The Life Of A Patient

If you were confined to a bed without with no hope of seeing the outside world again, you may suffer from depression or regret if you were left to your own thoughts all day. However, having someone come visit you allows you to tell your life story to someone who is interested in what you have to say. Even if a patient doesn’t have anything profound to say, it can be a joy to have someone to watch the news with or play a game of cards or checkers once or twice a week.

Volunteers Don’t Have To Do Much

The best part about being a volunteer is that you don’t have to do much to make this impact. All you have to do is show up, interact in a genuine manner with a patient or patients and leave the facility feeling better about yourself. You never know what you could learn from an older person or when you will find someone who shares an interest with you that none of your friends or family members share with you. Over time, the relationship that you develop with a patient can just as beneficial for you as it is for the person who you are befriending.

Everyone has the right to live with dignity and hope. Whether you are a child, an adult or an elderly person confined to a nursing home, there is no reason why you should be stuck in a room by yourself all day. Those who would like to volunteer at a nursing care facility should contact a local facility as soon as possible. From there, you can schedule a convenient time when you can volunteer without having to put the rest of your life on hold.

 

The video shows Mynez Carter feebly raising her arms, trying to protect herself from the woman looming over her.  The 84 year old is pulled by her hair, her head shoved into a pillow as she is unable to defend herself.  In another segment, her legs are roughly pinched by the same woman, and she can do nothing but kick weakly against her. These were the horrifying images that Mynez Carter’s family found when they placed a hidden camera by her nursing home bed.

The family first became suspicious when they noticed Ms. Carter, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, shrinking away from guests, and acting unusually fearful. Thanks in part to their attention to her change in behavior, and solid evidence from the camera footage, the nursing home has been fined by the state and has compensated the family out of court.  Now all that remains is for a sentence to be given to Marie Acosta, the woman seen abusing Ms. Carter in the footage. Acosta has pleaded guilty and will face up to ten years in prison.

Be advised that the footage here and here accompanying the original articles is disturbing.

Christina Ewing, an Illinois woman, is seeking damages from a nursing home which left her soaking in her own urine for hours or days, according to her account.  This led to a severe rash and pressure ulcers, which in turn led to a staph infection and eventually sepsis or blood poisoning. See article at Madison Record

Blood poisoning is a serious, painful condition that can be fatal.  She had additional pressure ulcers which were worsening on her feet.  Pressure ulcers are often a sign of elder neglect, caused by a failure to properly turn, clean, and provide nutrition.  In this case, Ms. Ewing does claim that the staff allowed these ulcers to develop, and subsequently failed to report their deterioration to her physician.

The Charleston Post & Courier had an amazing article on the excessive cost of medical records.  Hospitals and doctors can charge patients up to 65 cents for the first 30 pages, 50 cents per page after that, a maximum $15 clerical fee plus any shipping costs and sales tax “for the search and duplication of a medical record.”

The article highlights the example of Charlie Aslanidis, a retired Air Force sergeant, who slipped on June 8 and sustained a traumatic brain injury.  His hospital stay was seven weeks long this summer and his medical record was lengthy — just shy of 7,000 pages.  The family was charged $3,801.30 for a CD with digital medical records.  "Gloria Aslanidis didn’t need paper copies of his record, but IOD, the outside vendor hired to process these requests at MUSC, charged her the maximum amount allowed by state law for one CD of her father’s complete medical file — $3,801.30."  This was simply the charge for the CD.

The South Carolina Physicians’ Patient Records Act was written in 1992 before digital copies were commonplace. The law makes clear that medical records are owned by doctors and health care providers, but it also allows patients and their legal representatives to request copies of those records.

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) will provide incentives for all health care providers to convert from paper records to electronic ones, but many providers already use an electronic format.

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This morning the American Association for Justice released a new report on forced arbitration entitled License to Steal: How the U.S. Chamber Forced Arbitration on America. Below is the national press release and links to share online.

 

Most Americans do not realize they have forfeited their legal rights until it is too late. Buried in the fine print of many contracts – from credit card and nursing home contracts to employee handbooks and online user agreements – are dangerous forced arbitration clauses that eliminate access to justice and replace it with a secretive, corporate tribunal. The American Association for Justice released a new primer today detailing how the abusive practice of forced arbitration hurts American small businesses, consumers and employees and how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spearheading efforts to force arbitration on America.

 

“The civil justice system provides a key incentive for corporations to act responsibly and prioritize safety. But the U.S. Chamber knows when consumers and small businesses lose access to the courts, corporations can get away with the worst,” said American Association for Justice President Burton LeBlanc.

 

The primer, License to Steal: How the U.S. Chamber Forced Arbitration on America, shines a spotlight on how forced arbitration clauses are routinely buried in the fine print of contracts and secretly abolish many of the safeguards the civil justice system provides. The new primer is being released the same day the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) is holding its annual summit to discuss ways to eliminate the ability of small businesses, employees and consumers to hold corporations accountable in court.

 

As with anything the U.S. Chamber does regarding the legal system, this event and its campaign to force arbitration on America serves one purpose: to help its corporate sponsors evade legal accountability when they harm and kill Americans,” added LeBlanc.

 

License to Steal points out a number of hidden dangers in forced arbitration. One such example is the story of 86 year-old Mabel Strobel, who “won” her forced arbitration hearing against Morgan Stanley after the investment firm persuaded her to sell her property and use the money to buy unpredictable stocks with heavy sales charges. Strobel lost $281,729, but the arbitrator only awarded her $5,000, then charged her $10,350 in forced arbitration fees.

 

Additionally, Take Justice Back, the American Association for Justice’s grassroots campaign, is urging activists to protect their rights by asking Congress to support the Arbitration Fairness Act (S.878 / H.R.1844).

 

As the world’s largest trial bar, the American Association for Justice works to make sure people have a fair chance to receive justice through the legal system when they are injured by the negligence or misconduct of others–even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations. Visit http://www.justice.org.

 

 

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The Wall Street Journal recently reported on New York’s top court upholding a state law restricting asset or equity withdrawals from nursing homes without prior approval from state health officials.  The Court of Appeals found that the restriction on withdrawals exceeding 3 percent of a facility’s most recently reported annual revenue from patient care isn’t "so outrageously arbitrary" as to be unconstitutional.

The policy behind the law is to preserve nursing home financial capacity to provide care and is certainly a proper concern of the state Legislature. They unanimously overturned lower courts, which concluded the measure violated the rights of facility owners with positive net worth. 

 

Economic motivation seems to be a major culprit for poor performance in nursing homes with a large percentage of African-American patients. See article at U.S. News.  These homes have been found to give a lower quality of care. The Health Services Research study which was [previously discussed](http://www.scnursinghomelaw.com/2013/07/articles/trial-themes/minorities-receive-less-care/) on this site reveals a motivation for nursing homes to screen for patients who have private insurance rather than Medicaid in order to make more money. Since more minorities rely on Medicaid this can lead to segregation in long-term care facilities even if every trace of racial motivation is removed.

The study shows that revenue and profit margins are consistently higher in nursing homes without minority patients.  Health care in these facilities is typically better as well.  The quality of care for this study was measured by looking at the facilities rates of pressure ulcers, regular mobility assistance, urinary tract infections, and medication errors. A broad evaluation of the data indicates that the discrepancy in care is largely tied to the entire facility, not the race of individual patients.

Alarming new numbers released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control document a huge rise in opioid pain reliever prescriptions over a ten year span. Opioids are a class of drug commonly prescribed for pain-relief that include Dilaudid, Percocet, Hydrocodone, OxyContin, Oxycodone, Vicodin and Morphine. They are classified as highly addictive and can easily become lethal if too much is given. Deaths due to overdoses of prescription opioid drugs rose 415% among women and 265% among men from 1999 to 2010. A Mayo Clinic report shows opioid pain-killers are now ranking among the three most common types of prescriptions given to Americans. It also showed that women and the elderly are more likely to receive more prescriptions than the average person.

The CDC Director cites aggressive and misleading marketing of these drugs aimed at doctors as one reason for the spike in overdose deaths. The CDC urges doctors to take a second look at pain-management strategies for their patients, and consider alternative therapies such as physical therapy and exercise. Leading the way is Washington state, which has successfully worked with prescribers and insurers on better guidelines for opioid prescriptions and has since seen a 23% decrease in opioid-related deaths.