Reuters reported the federal jury in Dallas ordered Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit to pay $247 million to six patients who said they were injured by defective Pinnacle hip implants.  Six New York residents implanted with the devices said they experienced tissue death, bone erosion and other injuries they blamed on design flaws.  The jury found that the metal-on-metal hip implants were defectively designed and that the companies failed to warn consumers about the risks.

 

KBTX reported that Health Services Management Inc. (HSM) has paid the United States $5 million to resolve claims that the company billed the Medicare and Medicaid programs for worthless services and for services that were never provided.  HSM is based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and owns and operates nursing homes throughout the United States.

The whistleblower worked at Huntsville Health Care Center, a 92-bed nursing home and rehabilitation facility that HSM owned and operated.  She claimed that during her employment, she witnessed patient abuse and neglect, inadequate care, physical and verbal abuse and denial of basic services, such as providing patients with food and water.

The investigation concluded that from Jan. 1, 2013, through Dec. 31, 2015, Huntsville Health Care Center billed for services that were not provided or which were so substandard and deficient that they were considered worthless and potentially harmful to specific Huntsville patients.

“We take seriously the care of our most vulnerable citizens, the elderly and infirm,” said Martinez. “When providers accept federal funds for reimbursement, they have a duty and responsibility to provide the best care possible to the patient, especially when those patients are elderly and at times incapacitated. The United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Southern District of Texas will aggressively hold those accountable who fail to provide the care that is expected when the failure to do so results in harm to the patients and the treasury.”

“It’s disturbing when a nursing home company accepts Medicare and Medicaid money to care for vulnerable nursing home residents and in return provides substandard care, as alleged in this case,” said Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General (DHHS-OIG). “We will continue to hold nursing homes accountable to give residents the quality health services, and living conditions, taxpayers pay them to provide.”

A Tennessee appellate panel affirmed a $425,000 award in an employment suit accusing a nursing home of firing a nurse for reporting the neglect of an in-home hospice patient, saying the nurse was a whistleblower serving a public purpose by reporting illegal activity.

In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge Court of Appeals panel upheld a jury’s award of $225,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages to nurse Latisia Upshaw in a suit claiming she was fired by Sunrise Community of Tennessee.

National Law Review reported the settlement in a choking case where the staff ignored the doctor’s diet restriction order.  The elderly man who died was provided food that was not permitted in his diet program and was allowed to eat unsupervised, even though he was at high risk of choking. Antonio Mares died on November 9, 2012 when a nursing assistant was unable to properly perform the Heimlich maneuver while he was choking.

Center for Hispanic Elderly in Wicker Park has agreed to a settlement of $875,000 after nurses failed to follow doctors’ orders and a patient died.  Antonio Mares was prescribed a diet of mechanical-soft food by his doctor due to medical complications which increased his risk of choking. As he was at an elevated risk, he was also to only be fed while under the supervision of a nurse or nursing assistant. On November 9, 2012, both of these directives were ignored when a certified nursing assistant provided him with a tray of food that did not meet his dietary specifications and then proceeded to leave him to eat unsupervised.

Mares fought for his life after he began to choke, using the call button to desperately gain the attention of nursing staff members. Nobody responded to the calls and it wasn’t until the nursing assistant returned to the room that anyone was aware of the issue. The CNA proceeded to attempt the Heimlich maneuver, but did not perform it properly.

Patients that are considered high-risk for choking should also never be left to eat without supervision or assistance. Mares was not only provided the wrong food for his special needs, but he was then left to fend for himself until he began to choke.

The Albuquerque Journal reported the nursing home verdict against Village of Northrise nursing home.  Inez Martinez was a resident for 20 days recovering from pacemaker surgery. The surgical incision from the implant was neglected and oozing, red.  The 82-year-old matriarch told her kids – and nurses at the nursing home – that pain was radiating down her arm from the wound. Her throat and blistered lips hurt. The family knew something was wrong, but no one would listen to them

Yet Dr. Guadencio Pavia, one of the Village of Northrise nursing home’s contract doctors, never visited Martinez in the nursing home, court records show. And even when she visited his office two days before her discharge, he never looked at her incision.

One day after the visit with Pavia, Martinez told Northrise nurses that her incision was sending pain down her arm and chest. So they faxed that information to Pavia. He signed the fax but never followed up.

She died 11 days later of a blood infection, kidney failure, a heart attack and more triggered by MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, an infection she acquired during her stay at Northrise.

Dr. Pavia never examined Martinez’s incision during her stay at (Northrise), and it was later revealed at trial that attending physicians were not required to come to the facility to see their patients,” the state’s Court of Appeals judges wrote in a September 2016 opinion upholding the daughter’s multimillion-dollar wrongful death lawsuit verdict against the nursing home.

“Experts for both sides agreed that this conduct fell below the standard of care,” Judge Linda Vanzi wrote in the opinion with Judges M. Monica Zamora an J. Miles Hanisee.

A jury awarded the family $2.5 million, plus interest, from the for-profit nursing home company.

That award was in addition to settlements the family received from the urgent care company and its doctor and a physician assistant, and from Pavia, the contract doctor with Northrise who was responsible for Martinez’s care while in the nursing home.

But the nursing home company and its parent companies fought that judgment – and partly won.

Peak Medical Assisted Living was the primary parent company to the Northrise nursing home. But that parent company had several of its own parents, including Sun HealthCare Group, which has since been purchased by Genesis HealthCare. The company owns several facilities across the state, including in Albuquerque.

 

 

The Augusta Chronicle reported the settlement between James M. Mason and his family and the Augusta nursing home The Place at Deans Bridge Road.  Mason was admitted to The Place at Deans Bridge Road on Sept. 24, 2012. He was 62 and in need of skilled nursing care.  Mason developed urinary tract infections, injuries from numerous falls, dehydration, weight loss and renal failure. After he was hospitalized with pneumonia in September 2015, his family Mason moved to Golden Living. He died Nov. 3, 2015.

The litigation against the owner/operator Golden Living Center and its nursing home administrator Elize Joseph continues. The family alleged that neglect led to a Mason’s injuries and suffering by putting corporate profits above patient care by not staffing at adequate levels to provide residents proper care.

Harris agreed to a one-time lump sum payment, the amount is to remain confidential under the agreement. Attorney fees and court cost, and medical expenses for his father will come out of the settlement payment.

The Healthcare Finance News reported the settlement between Prestige Healthcare and the U.S. Department of Justice.  Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Prestige is an owner and operator of nursing homes in several states.  Prestige Healthcare has agreed to pay the federal government nearly $1 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act in a scheme to falsely bill Medicare for unnecessary genetic testing, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Nursing home operators such as Prestige place orders with clinical laboratories for medically necessary diagnostic laboratory tests for their residents. In order to be considered medically necessary and thus reimbursable under Medicare, the laboratory test must be ordered by the physician treating the resident.

The allegations charge Prestige with failing to ensure that physician orders were obtained for the genetic testing prior to its being conducted, and that Prestige physicians were not aware of, and did not agree with, the medical necessity of the testing.

The United States alleged that in 2014 Prestige was approached by an entity known as Genomix, which claimed that it could perform genetic testing on Prestige’s Medicare residents in order to ascertain whether those patients were properly metabolizing their medications. The federal government alleged that in 2014 and 2015, Prestige provided Genomix with insurance and personal medical information, as well as access to patients in nursing homes in several states for purposes of conducting the testing. Genomix conducted the testing by taking cheek swabs of each Prestige patient and then sending the cheek swab to a laboratory for analysis.

Prestige failed to ensure that its patients were informed of the testing prior to its being conducted, and provided with the opportunity to decline the testing.

The DOJ said the lack of physician orders and patient consent was discovered during a survey conducted by state regulators in late 2015.

 

Bobby Glenn Tweed was admitted to a nursing home in January 2013.  While diagnosed with dementia, Tweed, 78, was still a vigorous man. But without his family’s consent, Tweed was given dangerous psychotropic drugs that are known to be fatal among older patients with dementia. In 10 months, he was dead.

The AARP reported the that with the help of AARP Foundation lawyers, Tweed’s family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home and others that were responsible for caring for their father. Terms of the settlement are confidential.

The dangerous overuse of psychotropic drugs in nursing facilities received widespread national attention from an AARP Bulletin investigative report in the July-August 2014 issue.

“After that story, we started hearing from people all over the country whose loved ones suffered because they had received these drugs often without consent,” said Kelly Bagby, senior attorney with AARP Foundation Litigation.

“These lawsuits are among the efforts of AARP Foundation to help address this nationwide health crisis,” Bagby said. “Unfortunately, what happened to Mr. Tweed has happened to countless others.”

The practice is done for the convenience of understaffed nursing homes where the care is inadequate, according to experts.

 

A North Carolina federal jury determined that a nursing home committed negligence that caused the deaths of three patients, with reckless disregard to their rights, and awarded their families $5.2 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

After a four-day trial, the jury determined that medical care given by nursing home Blue Ridge Health Care Center and management companies Care Virginia Management LLC and Care One LLC was grossly negligent, intentional or in reckless disregard of the rights of Del Ray Baird, Jacqueline Baird, and Elizabeth Jones.

Plaintiffs, administrators of the estates of deceased persons who were residents of North Carolina at the time of their deaths, and Samuel Kee, Sr., individually, filed the original complaint in Wake County Superior Court on December 23, 2013. On January 28, 2014, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. In the amended complaint plaintiffs bring state law claims for medical and/or professional negligence, ordinary corporate negligence, ordinary negligence, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, and punitive damages.

These allegations stem from the treatment and deaths of three individuals while being cared for at the Blue Ridge Health Care Center (“BRHCC”) facility at 3830 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC 27612. Defendant Blue Ridge of Raleigh, LLC (“Blue Ridge”) is alleged to have held the license to operate the nursing home, BHRCC, where each of
the deaths occurred in this case.  See Order denying Motion to Dismiss..

The Waco Tribune reported that a jury found that Jeffrey Place Rehabilitation Center officials were negligent in their care of a blind, diabetic Waco man and compensated the man’s family $450,000 in actual damages. Homer Byrd, a 79-year-old retired tractor mechanic, died in November 2015, only a month after being admitted to Jeffrey Place.

Jurors deliberated about 7½ hours over two days before siding with Greg H. Byrd and his wife, Kim, in their wrongful death lawsuit against the Waco nursing center and its parent company, Senior Living Properties LLC.

Testimony from the five-day trial showed that Byrd, a diabetic on dialysis, developed an infected big toe that turned gangrenous, which led to Byrd’s right leg being amputated just above his knee and, ultimately, to his death.

Jeffrey Place staff breached the ordinary standard of care by failing to promptly discover and treat the infected toe. Nurses testified they noticed the toe, but not until the wound had turned black, had a foul odor and was 4 centimeters by 5 centimeters.

 

The awards include $100,000 for pain and mental anguish suffered by Homer Byrd before his death, $75,000 for Greg Byrd’s loss of his father’s companionship and love and $75,000 for Greg Byrd’s mental anguish over his father’s death. The jury awarded $200,000 in deterrent damages so this type of neglect doesn’t happen again.

 

“Due to the evidence we saw, it was just gross negligence,” juror Crocker said. “There was a lot more that could have been done for this man, and it was just absolute refusal to see a problem that is blatantly obvious.”