The West Virginia Record had an article explaining why a resident’s family sued the nursing home that neglected her and the parent company that controlled the budget, staffing, and equipment used at the facility.  

The article states that the woman died from injuries sustained in a Dunbar nursing home seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The suit is against Sunbridge Care and Rehab and the Sun Healthcare Group, Inc.

McCarty was admitted to Sunbridge Care and Rehab at the age of 79. Upon her admission, McCarthy suffered from dementia and could no longer handle her affairs. Her cognitive and physical skills were impaired. She died as a result of the injuries she sustained in a fall at the facility.

Among the injuries she sustained while at the nursing home were falls, weight loss, dehydration, malnutrition, constipation, a perforated bowel, infections, and ultimately, her death.  She suffered injuries, disfigurement, extreme pain, suffering, and mental anguish.

"The scope and severity of the recurrent wrongs inflicted upon Ferris McCarthy while under the care of the facility accelerated the deterioration of her health and physical condition beyond that caused by the normal aging process and resulted in physical and emotional trauma," the suit says.

Northwest Arkansas Times had an article about a resident who died only 6 days after getting admitted to a nursing home. She was only 63 years old.  Why did they agree to accept her if they couldn’t take care of her?

Donna Fay Snow dislodged her catheter line, entered the bathroom and fell. She bled to death while lying on the bathroom floor before she was found at 5: 35 a. m.   Many times the resident needs to go to the bathroom and hits the call light/bell but gets no response so they try to go to the bathroom without assistance.  In this case, the call light was not operating properly.

"It appears that the cord to her nursing call light was missing," the lawsuit states.

Snow had a port placement for dialysis in her upper left jugular vein that she was prone to pick, according to the complaint.  The nursing home and its staff knew about Snow’s medical condition and should have taken steps to care for her needs, the lawsuit alleges.

 

ABC News, the Denver Channel, had an article about a nursing home employee beating a sick and vulnerable resident of a nursing home.  This story disgusts me.  I hope they throw the book at this guy.  I hope he will never be able to work in the health care industry again. This kind of assault happens far too frequently and typically gets covered up by the nursing home or regulatory agencies.

The article mentions thar Kalen Randolph was arrested for nearly beating to death an elderly patient in his care. He physically assaulted a 74-year-old stroke victim at Ashley Manor.   "He struck him repeatedly. Turns out, he had serious bodily injury, according to one doctor. (Randolph) also then fled the scene leaving eight of these elderly patients at the home without supervision," said Aurora Police spokesman Detective Bob Friel.

Because of a 911 hangup call, police responded quickly to the attack at 3:40 a.m., but Randolph was not in the area.   "We know that he ended up meeting with a girlfriend and having sex in her car. And that’s what he was doing at the time when these elderly patients were left in the home," said Friel.

Randolph, a certified nurse’s assistant, is charged with eight counts of neglect and one count of second-degree assault.  Ashley Manor is a small facility for Alzheimer’s and brain injury patients. It has only nine patients.

Where was his supervisor?  Was he the only person working on third shift?  The nursing home should be held accountable for the actions of their employees.

KAALtv.com had a disturbing article on residents being abused in a Minnesota nursing home.  The conduct of these "professionals" is outrageous and disgusting.  They should be arrested and thrown in jail and never work in the health car eindustry again.  I would be surprised if anything happens to them.  They will probably get rehired easily knowing how the nursing home industry works.

The article mentions that an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health found that at least 15 nursing home residents were abused mentally and physically.  The abuse actually could have been prevented months earlier.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health 15 residents at the Good Samaritan Society nursing home were verbally and or physically abused by several nursing assistants, some of them are not even 18 years old.  The abuse was discovered back in December of 2007, but could have been earlier than that.

The 5 perpetrators were responsible for caring for the residents.  The Freeborn County Attorney’s office says dealing with vulnerable adults makes it difficult to prosecute when they don’t have statements from the victims.   It sounds like the prosecutor is making excuses for his own incompetence.  Why doesn’t he ask the nurses to take polygraph tests?

The Freeborn County Attorney says the five women face gross misdemeanor charges, which means only one year in jail, a $3-thousand dollar fine or both as a maximum plenty. There is no mention in the article if the nurses licenses have been revoked or if they work at another nursing home now.

 

A New Jersey appeals court ordered a new trial in a medical malpractice case because the award for pain and suffering was too low to adequately compensate the plaintiff for the rest of her life.  The jury awarded $100,000 for pain and suffering.  The Appellate Division ordered a new trial finding the award "grossly insufficient and a miscarriage of justice," but left in place the liability verdict and $800,000 in economic damages.

Maureen Walsh saw a succession of doctors starting in 1995 for circulatory problems in her toes. By the time she met with vascular surgeon George Constantinopoulos in early 1998, she was in severe pain. He recommended an arteriogram, saying it should be done promptly but that another doctor should arrange it because he was not in her health plan.   A subsequent bypass operation showed that amputation might be necessary because painful gangrene had set in. First she lost her foot, then part of her leg and finally, in 1998, most of her leg as the gangrene advanced upward and her leg began to turn colors.

She was 50 at the time, and federal government estimates give a woman of that age a life expectancy of 32.5 years. 

 

Naples Daily News had an article about Medicare overpaying nursing homes.  Watchdog groups have warned about the overpayment months ago.  The already extremely profitable nursing home industry is getting an extra $1.5 billion from Medicare despite a call from an independent Medicare advisory panel that reimbursement has been inflated for the past three years and needs to be scaled back.

The windfall to skilled nursing facilities comes with no strings attached and there is no reason to believe this windfall will help improve the quality of care or quality of life for nursing home residents,” said Toby Edelman, a senior policy attorney with the Center for Medicare Advocacy Inc., in Washington, D.C.

The overpayment remains even though the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent advisory group to Congress, recommended in May that the rates be adjusted because nursing homes are being overpaid. The Bush Administration decided this past month to "study" the issue further.

The Center for Medicare has been overpaying nursing homes since January 2006 after expanding the list of categories used in determining patients’ medical status for purposes of reimbursement  .By not addressing the issue now, the nursing home industry will reap an extra $780 million next year, Edelman said.

An Office of Inspector General report in 2006 found that 22 percent of nursing home claims were overcoded for higher reimbursement, he said.

The system used to determine reimbursement to nursing homes is complex. One component alone involves a patient evaluation form with 509 questions, Hamilton said. The forms help determine the nursing home’s reimbursement rates.  This raises questions about how much time staff members have to do the evaluation, how trained they are and whether the patient’s medical record matches the care rendered, Hamilton said.

On a second front, the nursing home industry is receiving a 3.1 percent inflation adjustment that will mean getting an additional $710 million next year from Medicare.  MedPAC had reviewed nursing homes’ operating margins and recommended no cost adjustment to the federal government but the inflation increase is moving forward.

 

The Urban Institute did a study that showed Americans who go without health insurance.  They will spend $30 billion out of pocket for health care this year alone, and they will get $56 billion worth of free care, according to a report released on Monday.

Government programs pay for about three-quarters, or roughly $43 billion, of the bills for these uninsured people, Jack Hadley of George Mason University in Virginia and a team at the Urban Institute reported.

On average, an uninsured American pays $583 out of pocket toward average annual medical costs of $1,686 per person,  The annual medical costs of Americans with private insurance average far more — $3,915, with $681, or 17 percent, paid out of pocket, the report found.

"The uninsured receive a lot less care than the insured, and they pay a greater percentage of it out of pocket. Contrary to popular myth, they are not all free riders," Hadley said.

Current estimates show that 47 million Americans lack any health insurance, and 28 million have gone without for some part of the year.  

Spartanburg Herald had an article about the emergence of nurses in nursing homes stealing narcotics from residents who need them.  It is shocking that this could happen so often without anyone at the nursing home being aware.  Do they take these drugs while providing care?  That would explain all the neglect and negligence that seems to exist in some of the homes mentioned such as Magnolia Manor and Magnolia Place–both are owned and operated by the national for profit chain of THI and Fundamental Long Term Care Companies which previously ran IHS into bankruptcy.  Maybe the nursing homes should initiate random drug tests of their employees to protect the residents.

More than 650 nurses–one out of every 100 licensed nurses in Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union counties has been disciplined by the state Board of Nursing for a drug-related offense. Half of them stole prescription painkillers from hospitals, doctor’s offices and nursing homes. This doesn’t even count the CNAs who ar enot licensed health care providers.

The nurses have faced disciplinary action for offenses including stealing drugs, forging prescriptions, testing positive on drug screens or coming to work impaired at employers including Spartanburg Regional Medical Center and Mary Black Memorial Hospital. Many returned to work after an evaluation and completing, when deemed necessary, mandatory treatment with the S.C. Recovering Professionals Program, or RPP.  These numbers do not reflect the nurses who did not get caught or the ones where the emnployer looked the other way.

Frank Sheheen, RPP director, said most medical professionals referred to the program didn’t steal medications just once, and many program participants were referred there before disciplinary action was taken. There are "absolutely" more medical professionals in the state "in need of treatment who aren’t getting it," he said. "If they get caught stealing once, how many times have they been stealing?" he asked. "That’s just the one time they got caught."

Drug abuse has increased over the past decade, and the percentage of medical professionals who are addicted to drugs is about 2 percent higher than in the general population, Sheheen said.

Many nurses committed violations that placed proper patient care in jeopardy. In more than one case, nurses came to work impaired from alcohol or medications such as Demerol. One nurse, who was employed as a staff nurse at Magnolia Manor, was suspected of removing Duragesic patches from nursing home patients and reporting to work impaired.

Another nurse admitted to stealing prescription narcotics from Allen Bennett Memorial Hospital in Greer on four occasions. He also admitted that  when he was employed at Magnolia Place nursing home, he stole OxyContin by opening pill packages and replacing the white OxyContin tablets with other white-colored pills, according to board records.

Board records show one nurse admitted to taking multiple drugs from Allen Bennett, including Demerol, Dilaudid and Lortab. The next year, she was fired from Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, where she had gained employment, for taking a patient’s medication and administering it to herself while on duty. She submitted to a drug screen and tested positive for morphine.

Thom Berry, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, has seen all types of drug cases involving medical professionals across the state. Some cases clearly endanger the patient’s quality of treatment if they’re not receiving the appropriate amount of painkillers, he said.

 

The purpose of the Long Term Care Ombudsman program in South Carolina is to provide advocates for the elderly and their families.  If you or a loved one is a resident of a nursing home or assisted living facility in South Carolina, the Ombudsman in your region should be able to answer your questions.  Most importantly, if you have a complaint against a facility contact your Ombudsman for help.  Click here for to find out more about the Long Term Care Ombudsman program and to get contact information.  Another resource to try is SCDHEC, or South Carolina Department of Healht and Environmental Control.  This is the agency that licenses and inspects nursing home and assisted living facilites in South Carolina.  Click here for more information.

When making a complaint, whether it is made to the Ombudsman, DHEC, or the facility itself, it is best to do it writing, not verbally, and make sure you keep a copy for your records.

 

The Toldeo Blade has a sad article about the effects of delays and denials caused by for profit insurance companies making health care decisions for residents instead of health care professionals.  This should be criminal the way the health care industry denied this man’s chances of survival. 

The article discusses various specific cases.   Randy Steele, 64, of Oak Harbor was transferred back and forth between health care facilities as physicians attempted to stay ahead of the hepatitis C virus that was slowly threatening his liver and kidneys.

He was finally referred to specialists at Cleveland Clinic to offer a second opinion on a potentially life-saving kidney-liver transplant. Cleveland Clinic fit Mr. Steele onto its schedule. But instead, his appointment was canceled and he waited weeks to learn if his insurer would pay for this life saving measure.

Mr. Steele, like many patients across the country, was the victim of a complex health-care bureaucracy and an insurance industry that repeatedly denies doctors’ orders — leaving patients bewildered and suffering.

Bill Hodnik, 41, endured the same shortcomings.He suffered months of avoidable pain while his insurer delayed and denied coverage for a necessary surgery ordered by his physician. Mr. Hodnik’s physician told him the optimal solution to his problems would be cutting-edge artificial disc replacement surgery.

The surgery was scheduled, but he never underwent the procedure. After months of repeated delays and denials from his insurer, and with his disability insurance running out, Mr. Hodnik needed to return to work, and so — against doctor’s orders — he settled on fusion surgery.

Doctors nationwide believe there is an emerging crisis in providing health care to their patients because insurers routinely challenge their orders.

Doctors said patients usually receive some of the therapy, testing, medication, or procedures needed and prescribed for them. But too often, physicians said, there’s a lapse in time between the office visit and when the care or test is delivered because of interference by insurers.