The Chicago Tribune reported that a Cook County judge upheld a ruling from last summer, which would award $4.1 million to the family of a deceased 89-year-old woman who suffered a stroke while recuperating from an injury at a Bartlett nursing home.  Cook County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lyons also ordered Bartlett-based Clare Oaks to pay an additional $1.5 million in attorney fees and awards to the family. Attorneys for the family said the amount is a record total issued under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.

In February 2011, Dolores Trendel was transferred to Clare Oaks for physical therapy after fracturing her left hip, according to court records and the family’s attorneys. Trendel’s physicians ordered various medications for Trendel to take, including Coumadin, which thins the blood to prevent clotting and strokes, according to court records.

A jury last summer agreed that the stroke contributed to Trendel’s death. The stroke caused Trendel to lose the ability to walk, talk, and enjoy life in any realistic manner.

 

The Daily Report reported on the recent nursing home verdict in Valdosta, Georgia where a jury compensated the family of a neglected resident with a $7.6 million verdict after the man died from complications of a bowel obstruction he suffered at Heritage Healthcare at Holly Hill nursing home.  The key issue was a lack of appropriate medical staff at the facility the night 71-year-old Bobby Copeland began vomiting and complaining of a distended abdomen in October 2012. When Copeland’s symptoms became obvious, the only medical staffer was a licensed practical nurse, who called an off-site physician assistant to ask whether to send Copeland to an emergency room less than a half-mile away.  The physician assistant allegedly said no and ordered some tests, but it was only the next day that Copeland was taken to the hospital, where he died hours later.  Had a registered nurse been available, she could have performed a skilled assessment of his symptoms and mental faculties. The nursing home had a policy of only using LPNs at night.

By the time Copeland got to the emergency room at South Georgia Medical Center, he was showing signs of having aspirated fecal matter in his lungs, and his stomach was severely distended.  Copeland died about 12 hours after arriving at the hospital.

Heritage Healthcare at Holly Hill is operated by Lowndes County Health Services, a division of the PruittHealth chain of nursing homes.

The jury found the nursing home liable for both ordinary and professional negligence and apportioned only 20 percent of the fault to the facility, with the rest divided among four nonparties.  The family offered to settle for $600,000 or $650,000 under Georgia’s offer of settlement statute, by which a party that declines a settlement offer and then loses at trial by at least 25 percent more than the rejected offer may have to pay the winning party’s attorney fees from the date of the offer.

The jury took about three hours to award $7.5 million for the value of Copeland’s life and $121,200 to his estate for pain and  suffering, medical and funeral expenses.

The panel allocated 20 percent of the liability to the nursing home, 35 percent apiece to the physician assistant and medical director, and 5 percent apiece to South Georgia Medical Center and the ER doctor.

 

Provo Rehabilitation and Nursing facility and a former nurse must pay $1.4 million for the death of a man who was given the wrong medications, a jury has ruled.  The facility was ordered to pay the bulk of the damages to the family of Jack Adams who died Feb. 11, 2010, after a nurse at the facility gave him the wrong medications, then altered medication records in an attempt to cover up her mistake, according to the complaint.

The nurse, Camille Jensen, reportedly gave Adams three medications meant for another patient. Jensen did not report the error, instead giving Adams’ medications to another patient so that medicine counts would appear correct, according to the lawsuit.

Adams died two days later. Jensen allegedly waited until five days after the man’s funeral to inform Provo Rehabilitation and Nursing about the mix-up.

Had Jensen reported the mistake, Adams’ life likely could have been saved, experts who reviewed the case agreed.

Following Adams’ death, the care facility informed the man’s family about the mistake but denied responsibility, then billed the family for the nursing services, according to the family’s attorney. Details about the exchange were not allowed in the four-day jury trial.

The jury ascribed 35 percent of fault in Adams’ death to Jensen and 65 percent of fault to Provo Rehabilitation and Nursing.

A Utah appellate panel said the nursing home must pay the entire $1.4 million jury verdict in a suit accusing a nurse of negligence in fatally giving a patient the wrong medication, saying that as the nurse’s employer, the home must assume responsibility for both the act and its concealment.

The Pantagraph had a story about the whistleblower at Heritage Health.  Katrina Wesemann was employed as a licensed practical nurse at Heritage Health in Dwight in October 2012 when she was fired by her employer, Bloomington-based Heritage Enterprises Inc., which operates 54 long-term facilities, including 53 in Illinois.  Wesemann claimed she was fired from the nursing home after she reported alleged abuse.  A jury compensated her for the wrongful termination in the amount of $5.2 million.  Telling the truth has its benefits! The verdict included past wages and benefits and $5 million in punitive damages for the nurse who worked at the facility for about 19 months.

Wesemann was fired because she refused to follow orders from the facility’s director of nursing “to ‘drop a pill’ or double-dose agitated residents with anti-anxiety medications and refused to delete or omit records of suspicious injuries on residents,” according to a statement from Timothy J. Coffey, one of Wesemann’s lawyers.

The jury sided with the former worker on all three counts brought under Illinois whistleblower laws that protect employees from retaliation for reporting improper conduct at nursing homes and other regulated industries.

CBS Chicago reported on the tragic case of Letasha Mims who suffered from severe mental-health issues, including dementia, and ended up needing full-time care at Alden-Wentworth Rehabilitation.  Her mother, Mary Mims, says her daughter died after suffering repeated abuse and neglect at a nursing home. That same nursing home is facing nearly 90 lawsuits against it. Letasha died in 2014. What she went through is difficult for her mom to handle.

Mims says Letasha couldn’t speak or use her arms or legs, yet was repeatedly left in her own feces. Mims took pictures to document the alleged neglect, which she says resulted in bed sores and wounds.

“I’ve never seen a wound as bad as my daughter’s. It was all the way to the bone,” Mims says.

She says there were even bugs in her daughter’s bed and that Letasha went through drastic weight loss – Mims says because of starvation.

Letasha had a sexually transmitted disease and was treated for it but the facility failed to call police.  Mims says her 36-year-old daughter was nonverbal and incapable of giving consent to sex.  Because no rape kit test was done on the nursing home resident, there is no chance of ever catching the offender.

 

 

PennLive reported the $250,000 verdict after the jury found a nursing home was at fault for the death of an 85-year-old resident.  The family of Bruce Dove had filed suit against the United Church of Christ’s Sarah A. Todd Memorial Home in Carlisle.

Dove had five children, now adults, some of whom were there throughout the trial, and it was the circumstances of his February 2014 death at the nursing home that spawned the lawsuit, filed in 2015.  According to the complaint and testimony at trial, the incident occurred like this:

On Feb. 5, 2014, Dove was in his wheelchair, waiting, near the entryway to the dining room, for dinner to be served. A supervising registered nurse asked another registered nurse to push him into the room.  But the second nurse pushed his wheelchair fast and recklessly down the hall toward the dining room without giving Dove warning or attaching footrests – a violation of safety standards. This motion flung Dove from his wheelchair. He hit his head on the floor and broke his neck.  The nurses rolled him over — failing to immobilize him — placed him back in his wheelchair and then moved him into his bed.

Dove suffered cervical spine fractures of the C1 and C2 and an odontoid fracture with displacement, as well as neurological damage. He died the following day.

“It was very important to my clients that the truth come out,” attorney Michael Kelley said. “They had been told early on that he just fell out of his wheelchair. They never believed that.”  The two nurses involved had been fired after the incident, which Kelley said was among the strongest pieces of evidence against the home.

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.