Here is an interesting article about an investigation at a nursing home involving a resident who died from suffocation. 

It was Friday, September 7 when authorities say Stephanie Galletti who lived at the Taylor Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center got tangled in some bed rails and suffocated.   According to a search warrant, it is part of a neglect investigation into Galletti’s death. She was an Alzheimer’s patient with a history of falling out of bed.

Court papers reveal a housekeeper "found Ms. Galletti’s head wedged between her bed rail and her mattress."   Included in the evidence seized from the nursing home Wednesday were medical records and an air mattress from Galletti’s bed.

According to court papers, the elderly woman died at 7:40 a.m., but her death was not reported to police until 9:48 a.m.   No one can explain the two hour delay.

In the affidavit investigators said, "No explanation was given as to the two hour delay in reporting the incident."  Authorities are also investigating a bed alarm that is supposed to sound if a patient falls out of bed. Detectives said Galletti’s bed alarm was turned off.

The bed alarm should not have been off according to the physician’s orders.  Clearly, the home did not have the bed alarm on and did not properly supervise the resdient.

New England Journal of Medicine has an article about Oscar, a hospice cat at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, R.I., who seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours.

His accuracy in 25 cases has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.

The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses.

After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He’d sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.

Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there, said Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill.

No one’s certain if Oscar’s behavior is scientifically significant or points to a cause. Teno wonders if the cat notices telltale scents or reads something into the behavior of the nurses who raised him.
Oscar recently received a wall plaque publicly commending his “compassionate hospice care.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare filed a complaint Thursday against the Holland-Glen Nursing Facility in Hatboro, Pa..  See article here.

The complaint alleges the facility has been operating without a nursing facility license and its services "substantially depart from generally accepted professional standards of care, thereby exposing patients to significant risk and, in some cases, to actual harm."

Among the specific allegations in the complaint are that Holland-Glen fails to properly administer medications, provide proper general resident care, check the backgrounds of its employees, and has falsified both resident medical records and records of billings to governmental and other payors.

The complaint seeks an injunction to prevent Holland-Glen from continuing to provide unlicensed care.

 A lawsuit against a Fort Smith-based nursing home company can proceed as a class-action suit, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled this week.

The court affirmed a decision to grant class-action certification to a suit alleging Batesville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center failed to live up to contractual and statutory obligations to take care of the basic daily needs of hundreds of residents.

The suit, filed in 2005 by Annette Thomas, names the nursing home and its parent company, which was known in 2005 as Beverly Enterprises, as defendants. Beverly changed its name to Golden Horizons last year following its purchase by Golden Gate National Senior Care.

The suit alleges between Sept. 13, 2000, and June 30, 2004, the nursing home failed to care properly for 489 residents by, among other things, failing to provide adequate staffing and failing to provide a clean, safe living environment.

Attorney Philip Bohrer of Baton Rouge, La., argued the case did not include personal injury claims, but rather claims involving issues such as understaffing which would have affected all residents of the facility. Granting class-action status was preferable to "having 400 individual trials on the same issue and the same evidence," he said.

Bohrer also said many of the plaintiffs are elderly and unaware of their rights and would not be able to file individual claims against the company.

In its decision Thursday, the Supreme Court said the plaintiffs showed the case met the criteria for class-action certification. The justices agreed with Harkey the defendants would benefit from class-action status.

"A class action is clearly a more efficient way of handling a case where there is a predominating, common issue to be resolved for all 489 class members. A class action is also fair to both sides in this case, as it is a vehicle for all class members to have their claims heard, and Beverly will not have to defend against the same assertion of liability in a multitude of different lawsuits," Justice Robert Brown wrote.

Here is an article about a nursing home company indicted in 2004 for the death of a resident.
Life Care Centers of America Inc. was finally indicted in the preventable death of an elderly woman whose body was found in her overturned wheelchair at the bottom of the front stairway of an Acton facility.

Life Care Centers of America Inc., which owns and operates the Life Care Center of Acton, was charged with manslaughter, abuse and neglect of a long-term care facility resident, and making a false Medicaid claim in connection with the death of 74-year-old Julia McCauley on April 17, 2004.

Attorney General Martha Coakley said that beginning in 1999, a physician had ordered McCauley to wear a device called a WanderGuard, which would set off an alarm and lock the doors of the facility if she approached them. The order also required nursing home staff to check the device daily to ensure it was functioning properly.

On the day she died, McCauley went through the front entryway of the Life Care Center and fell down the stairs. She was not wearing the WanderGuard device. 

The corporation will face a maximum fine of just $1,000 on the manslaughter charge, and no corporate official faces prison time.

Nursing homes change with the time
Industry keeps up with residents’ expectations
Originally published April 01, 2007 
By Katie E. Leslie
News-Post Staff

FREDERICK — For many people, the words "nursing home" bring to mind images of cold tile hallways, greenish room lighting, unattended seniors in distress and a sterile environment that speaks more of an outdated hospital than a home.
Some parts of the industry may have earned that reputation, but Cheryl Wright, marketing director for Homewood at Crumland Farms in Frederick, said today’s nursing homes are a far cry from the disturbing visions of yesteryear.

"There’s still a lot of education (in the community) that needs to happen," Wright said. "The reality is, things have changed for the better."

Homewood, one of Frederick County’s 13 nursing homes, is in the new generation of long-term care centers —-multi-staged retirement communities. In such establishments, people 55 and older can live independently in a house or apartment, and as their needs increase, move into an assisted living unit and ultimately into an advanced care unit.

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