The News-Gazette reported on another tragic wrongful death caused by neglect at a nursing home.  Sonya J. Kington, a resident at Champaign County Nursing Home, was found dead in the home’s courtyard on June 6, a Saturday when the high temperature reached 87 degrees.  Kingston’s body was found in an exterior courtyard. Ms. Kington was lying in direct sunlight, her skin was “very hot to touch” and she had vomit on both sides of her mouth.

According to an investigation by the coroner’s office, video footage from inside the nursing home appeared to show Ms. Kington entering the courtyard at 1:47 p.m. It isn’t until about 5:15 p.m. that staff members are seen searching for her.  The report noted that the investigation “could not account for Ms. Kington’s whereabouts” during the more-than-three-hour period

“Staff is seen visibly shaken at 5:30 p.m. when it appears they have located Ms. Kington unresponsive in the courtyard,” says the report by Deputy Coroner Tracy Brookshire.

The report said that a nurse and certified nursing assistant on duty at the time violated the nursing home’s door alarm policy and policies for providing adequate supervision to residents in the courtyard.

The Gerontologist reported that a new study regarding fall occurrence during a nursing home (NH) to community transition. This study sought to examine whether the presence of supports and services impacts the relationship between fall-related risk factors and fall occurrence post NH discharge.  Falls are a major source of morbidity and mortality among older adults.

“Fifteen percent of participants fell within 30 days of NH discharge. Factor analysis of fall-related risk factors produced three latent variables: fall concerns/history; activities of daily living impairments; and use of high-risk medications. A supports/services latent variable also emerged that included caregiver support frequency, medication management assistance, durable medical equipment use, discharge location, and receipt of home health or skilled nursing services. In the SEM model, high-risk medications use and fall concerns/history had direct positive effects on falling. Receiving supports/services did not affect falling directly; however, it reduced the effect of high-risk medication use on falling (p < .05).”

Republicans blame Trump for sabotaging the Affordable Care Act recklessly that the party must now pass legislation strengthening Obamacare by the end of this month, or premiums will skyrocket.  Under Obamacare, participating insurers are required to keep deductibles and co-payments affordable for low-income people.  To make that proposition more appealing to these for-profit companies, Obamacare provides them with “cost-sharing reductions” — subsidies that defray the insurers’ losses.  Trump can cancel those subsidies at will. And he has threatened to do just that, over and over again, for months.

This was disconcerting to insurance providers and hindered the stability and profitability of the insurance markets.  Congress must pass legislation guaranteeing that the cost-sharing reductions will be paid or health care is going to become considerably more expensive next year.  The bad news is that, in order to avoid a spike in premiums, they’re going to need to pass that bill by September 27 — the deadline for insurers to commit to selling plans through Obamacare in 2018.

At this point, sabotaging Obamacare doesn’t create momentum for a legislative victory; it merely increases the likelihood that our health-care system will work conspicuously worse under a Republican president than it did under a Democratic one.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has decided to slash advertising for Obamacare open enrollment by 90 percent, and funding for “navigators” who help people sign up by 40 percent — even as Health and Human Services has spent public funds on advertisements effectively discouraging participation in the law.

Numerous media outlets have told the story of the nursing home residents at Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.  The nursing home failed to have a backup generator or an emergency plan to evacuate the residents after the nursing home lost air-conditioning after Hurricane Irma.  State and federal regulations (and common sense and decency) require nursing home residents to be evacuated if it gets too hot inside

The nursing home appeared to have electricity, but the hurricane had knocked out power in a critical spot: A tree had apparently hit the transformer that powered the cooling system, intensifying the subtropical heat from oppressive to fatal.

By Wednesday of this week, residents needed to be evacuated immediately. Checking the nursing home room by room, the hospital staff found four people who were already dead and nearly 40 others were critical. The workers rushed them to Memorial’s emergency room.  Four were so ill that they died soon after arriving. Rescue workers saved more than 100 residents. Dozens of hospital workers established a command center outside, giving red wristbands to patients with critical, life-threatening conditions.

Florida requires nursing homes to ensure emergency power in a disaster as well as food, water, staffing and 72 hours of supplies. A new federal rule, which takes effect in November, adds that the alternative source of energy must be capable of maintaining safe temperatures.  Florida officials had cited a deficiency related to the building’s generator as recently as February 2016. An inspection called for backup power systems to be “installed, tested and maintained” by March 2016, records show.

The 152-bed nursing home was acquired in 2015 by Larkin Community Hospital, a growing Miami-area network that includes hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  Larkin Community were among defendants who paid $15.4 million in 2006 to settle federal and state civil claims that the hospital paid kickbacks to doctors in exchange for patient admissions.

 

New York Magazine ran an article explaining how health care premiums are going to go up significantly because Trump’s reckless refusal to stabilize the market with subsidies for low income consumers.

Donald Trump told The Wall Street Journal that he planned to use the powers of his office to jeopardize health-care access for millions of low-income people, while undermining America’s insurance markets — because he believed that voters would blame the ensuing chaos on the Democratic Party.  Specifically, Trump threatened to stop paying out the “cost-sharing reductions” — subsidies that defray the losses insurers suffer when they sell low-income Obamacare enrollees coverage at below-market rates.

He was wrong.  Polls show that Trump will be blamed for premiums going up.

In response, Trump double-downed and slashed advertising for Obamacare open enrollment by 90 percent, and cut funding for “navigators” who help people sign up by 40 percent, thereby undermining the marketplaces even further.

new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office suggests that Trump’s threats and actions are to blame for an upcoming increase in the cost of health insurance. As Vox’s Sarah Kliff writes:

The nonpartisan office estimates that average premiums in the health law marketplaces will be 15 percent higher next year “largely because of short-term market uncertainty — in particular, insurers’ uncertainty about whether federal funding for certain subsidies that are currently available will continue to be provided.”

The CBO also estimates that there will be less competition in the marketplaces next year, which it also attributes to the uncertain federal environment surrounding the health law’s future.

… The CBO also points to “announced reductions in federal advertising, outreach, and other enrollment efforts” as additional factors that will make Obamacare sign-ups smaller next year than they otherwise would have been.

MassLive reported that two residents at the Jewish Nursing Home of Western Massachusetts (also known as the Leavitt Family Jewish Home, and part of what is now called JGS Lifecare) were found this summer with their heads stuck in the side rails of their beds, their bodies hanging down off their mattresses.  Certified nursing assistants described the first patient as looking “terrified,” and “holding on for dear life” with both hands.  In the second incident 15 days later, the patient was found dead.

The cases are detailed in a 32-page statement of deficiencies regarding the facility, obtained by The Republican. The report was produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency dedicated to assuring the quality of care paid for by the federal programs.

The survey team found fault with the home’s use of the rails, saying there was no procedure in place for installing the rails or assessing their use and effectiveness. According to the statement of deficiencies, additional findings include:

  • The facility failed to obtain consent for the use of the side rails.
  • The home failed to provide staff with information to make sure the rails were used in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • The home failed to make sure that all its side rails, mattresses and bed frames were compatible with one another. One maintenance staffer told the survey team the beds are all of varying brands and models.

The home has until today to prove it is in compliance with federal standards of care. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has already imposed a civil penalty of $15,109 a day on the home. As of Sept. 7, the date of a letter sent to the home via certified mail from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the home had already racked up $226,635 in penalties.  If officials fail to prove compliance, the home will lose its payment agreement with Medicare and Medicaid.

 

 

 

St. Louis Today reported the tragic and preventable death of Robert L. Baehr.  Baehr died in November 2015 of low blood sugar about two weeks after nurses at Bent-Wood Nursing and Rehab Center mistakenly gave him a prescription drug used to treat diabetes, which Baehr did not have.  Baehr also received one dose of an antibiotic and four doses of a drug to lower blood pressure that he was not prescribed, the investigative report shows.

The drug was intended for another resident of the nursing home, and a nurse mixed up their records, according to an investigation by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  After Baehr’s death, the federal agency cited Bent-Wood for placing residents in immediate jeopardy, putting its funding at risk.

 Baehr’s widow and daughter filed a lawsuit last year in St. Louis County Circuit Court against Bent-Wood claiming negligence by the nursing home; its owner, MGM Healthcare of Creve Coeur; and Dr. John Laird, who was Robert Baehr’s doctor.

Baehr’s drug list got switched with another resident’s who was admitted the same day, according to investigators’ interviews with nursing staff.  Investigators discovered that Baehr was given seven doses of glyburide, used to treat high blood sugar, one on Nov. 5 and two on each of the next three days. On Nov. 8, Baehr was found unresponsive and had a blood sugar level of 33 (normal levels are 70 to 100). He was revived with a sugar solution and orange juice. The next day he again became unresponsive with a blood sugar level of 33, and the sugar solution did not revive him. He never regained consciousness and died on Nov. 22. Federal records show the cause of death was profound hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

 

 

The Sacramento Bee reported the voluntary closing of the Eagle Crest nursing home, formerly known as Carmichael Care & Rehabilitation Center after state inspectors determined that a female resident was sexually abused multiple times by another resident at the facility.  The facility’s failure to safeguard the woman had placed all 36 female residents in Immediate Jeopardy of, and at risk for sexual abuse, the state found.

The facility has a history of neglect and inadequate care and was on the federal government’s consumer-beware list of troubled facilities.  Eagle Crest spent more than three years on the “Special Focus Facility List” maintained by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The list is a kind of improve-or-else warning program aimed at getting operators to correct serious problems, or lose their ability to collect government funding.  Some recent inspection reports show the facility has been written up and penalized for inadequately treating or preventing bed sores, failing to self-report possible abuse and not attempting CPR on a resident who wished to be resuscitated.

The California Department of Public Health show that the state recommended this summer that federal regulators drop the facility from its Medicare provider rolls, a drastic action that strips a nursing home of its critical government funding.

In a business move that will upend the daily lives of dozens of patients and their families, Pennsylvania-based Genesis HealthCare Inc. recently notified the state it would voluntarily close Eagle Crest in October.  In June, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Genesis HealthCare Inc. would pay the government nearly $54 million to settle six federal lawsuits. The government alleged that companies and facilities acquired by Genesis had submitted false claims to government health care programs for medically unnecessary services, and “grossly substandard nursing care.”

Here is a blog from The Hill that sets forth an absolutely heartbreaking case, being handled by Public Justice Foundation member Mike Foley, that exemplifies what’s most unfair about Congress passing H.R. 1215 imposing arbitrary caps on medical malpractice damages.  The woman mentioned in the blog is Kathleen Astleford.

Her doctor performed 26 unnecessary radiation treatments on the wrong side of her tonsils.  Astleford received horrendous medical care including burning her and not addressing her cancer, and then ran out of treatments because one can only get so much radiation, and the other treatments caused her many other problems.

The pain and suffering Astleford endured was unimaginable. However, a cruel bill recently passed by the U.S. House and now making its way towards the Senate, would add insult to her injuries — and to countless other patients who have suffered at the hands of careless health care providers — by placing restrictions on how much they can recover, no matter how outrageous or invasive their mistreatment might have been.

From medical malpractice to sexual assault, damages caps prevent victims of some of the vilest and most egregious crimes from ever receiving the justice they deserve. They also tie a jury’s hands, and make their verdicts nearly irrelevant, by allowing legislators instead of jurors to decide the maximum award allowed in these cases.

“Under H.R. 1215 the misleadingly titled “Protecting Access to Care Act” Astleford would only be able to collect a maximum of $250,000 for her pain and suffering. That’s because lawmakers behind the bill think those 26 unnecessary doses of radiation and the invasive surgery that would have been unnecessary had doctors administered the correct treatment to begin with are “noneconomic damages.” In other words, those 26 treatments didn’t actually “cost” Astleford anything, other than some discomfort that couldn’t possibly have caused more than $250,000 of troubles for her.”

 

 

 

Balancing Privacy & Protection: Surveillance Cameras in Nursing Home Residents’ Rooms

September 12, 2017
3:00-4:00 PM ET

The use of surveillance cameras in nursing home residents’ rooms is becoming more popular among some consumers and policymakers, but it comes with a range of potential positive and negative implications. Consumer Voice is excited to share our NEW Fact SheetBalancing Privacy & Protection: Surveillance Cameras in Nursing Home Residents’ Rooms, developed in partnership with The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). This Fact Sheet presents an overview of the balance between safety and security with privacy of residents and their roommates, current state laws and guidelines on surveillance cameras in residents’ rooms, and important questions to consider before installing a surveillance camera.

Join our webinar to learn more about this topic!  We will cover residents’ rights and interests involving surveillance cameras and considerations to evaluate before installing a surveillance camera.  In addition, we will hear from a variety of speakers on their experiences in utilizing surveillance cameras.

Presenters:

Julie Schoen, Deputy Director of the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)
Bill Whited, Oklahoma State Long-Term Care Ombudsman
Lori Smetanka, Executive Director of the Consumer Voice

Register today!

 

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care – 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 632 – Washington, DC 20036 – telephone: (202) 332-2275 – info@theconsumervoice.org