The Rock Hill Hearld Online reported the million dollar verdict against Dr. John Lee and South Carolina Emergency Physicians after Deborah Kirksey received improper treatment at Piedmont Medical Center’s emergency room.  The trial lasted a week.

Deborah went to the hospital’s emergency room on June 1, 2008 with pain in her side, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  She was examined by Lee at PMC and sent home with some pain and other medications. Deborah returned to the emergency room the following day in immense pain.  She died June 3, 2008, in the hospital from a problem with a bowel movement that was evident when she went to the emergency room two days earlier.

Lee is still practicing medicine at Piedmont Medical Center, McGowan said.

 

The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported that Laurie Bebo, the president and chief executive of Assisted Living Concepts Inc., received total compensation of $1.36 million in 2010–an increase of 32%.  Her pay consisted of a salary of $500,000, stock awards valued at $384,560, non-equity incentive plan compensation of $374,063 and other compensation of $101,249. Bebo’s total compensation in 2009 was $1.03 million.

Assisted Living Concepts posted net income of $16.5 million in 2010, compared with a loss of $155,00 in 2009. Its stock price closed the year at $32.53 after finishing at $26.37 in 2009.

 

Sens. Collins and Mikulski introduce Positive Aging Act which will strengthen mental health care workforce and services for older adults.  The members of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance (EWA) are delighted that Sens. Collins (R-ME) and Mikulski (D-MD) have introduced the Positive Aging Act of 2011 (S. 525).   The Positive Aging Act is designed to make mental health services for older adults an integral part of primary care services in community settings and to extend them to other settings where older adults reside and receive services.

“Depression, dementia, anxiety, and substance abuse among older Americans are
growing problems that result in functional dependence, long-term institutional
care, and reduced quality of life. Greater investments in strengthening the
mental health care workforce for older adults are sorely needed,” wrote EWA,
a coalition of 28 national organizations.

There are only 2,100 geriatric psychiatrists, less than half of the 5,000 needed to provide adequate mental health care for the growing population of older adults. Additionally, only 3 percent of practicing psychologists devote the majority of their practice to older adults and less than 5 percent of social workers are specifically trained in gerontological social work.

The Positive Aging Act will support evidence-based demonstration projects that provide integrated services through interdisciplinary team care in settings where older adults can most easily access mental health.

About the Eldercare Workforce Alliance
The Eldercare Workforce Alliance (EWA), a coalition of 28 national organizations representing older adults and the healthcare professionals, direct-care workers, and family caregivers who care them, is united in our commitment to address the eldercare workforce shortage to ensure that our parents and grandparents receive the dignity of living comfortably and receiving quality care in settings of their choice.

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced plans to post new information required by the Affordable Care Act on Nursing Home Compare. These are among the first nursing home transparency requirements in the health care reform law to be implemented. The agency also officially announced that it will "freeze" quality measure data that are currently reported in the five-star ratings for six months as it transitions to new data derived from MDS 3.0. See the CMS memo to state survey directors below.

CMS officials told the Consumer Voice that they do not yet have plans to post some other ACA-required data, including links to state survey reports on state websites and the number of criminal violations by nursing homes and their employees.

Memo: March 18, 2011

TO: State Survey Agency Directors

FROM: Director Survey and Certification Group

SUBJECT: April and July 2011 Changes to Nursing Home Compare – Nursing Homes Memorandum Summary 

The purpose of this memorandum is to describe changes that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will make to the Nursing Home Compare website http://www.medicare.gov/ on April 23, 2011 and on July 21, 2011. CMS is soliciting comments about these website changes. CMS will be evaluating the website in a systematic way, including seeking comments from stakeholders and visitors to the site. Based on these evaluations, CMS will continually making revisions to the website in the future.

 Section 6103 of the Affordable Care Act requires that a wide variety of new information be posted on Nursing Home Compare at different time intervals. On April 23rd, CMS will make three changes to Nursing Home Compare. The first change will be to add information to allow consumers to more directly file complaints about nursing homes with State Survey Agencies. These changes include adding links from Nursing Home Compare to State complaint websites and making State phone numbers and fax numbers more prominent on Nursing Home Compare. CMS is also adding a standardized complaint form that consumers can use in cases where they prefer to submit a complaint by fax.

 The second change that will take place on April 23 is to add a more visible consumer rights section that clearly spells out resident and consumer rights and provides more information about courses of action that consumers can take if they feel that their rights are being violated. This section will also have information on how to choose a nursing home and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

 In July 2011, CMS will make an additional change to Nursing Home Compare to display information for each nursing about the number of substantiated complaints received and about the number of enforcement actions (specifically Civil Money Penalties and Denials of Payment for New Admissions) that have been levied.

 Finally, in addition to changes mandated by the Affordable Care Act, on April 23 CMS will "freeze" quality measure data and the five star quality measure ratings currently on the website for a period of six months. The quality measures displayed on Nursing Home Compare since January 2011 reflect MDS 2.0 data submitted during quarters one, two and three of 2010. Historically, CMS has updated quality measure data each quarter. However, new MDS 3.0-derived quality measure data are not yet available for display, so CMS will retain the current QM scores and star ratings until October 2011. We anticipate that new MDS 3.0 QM data will be available in early 2012.

 

 

 

 

Fox News reported the arrest of Michael Ashmore, an employee at the Washington County Health Center, for snapping a towel in the face of a 93-year-old patient at a nursing home in Washington County in Pa.  Police charged 34-year-old Ashmore with simple assault, terroristic threats and neglecting to care for a dependent person. Police say he also tried to choke and punch the patient .

How could they have hired this guy?

 

AOL Health reported the largest study of locked-in syndrome which concluded a surprising number of patients with the condition say they are happy, despite being paralyzed and having to communicate mainly by moving their eyes. The patients responded to questions largely by blinking.  Most cases are caused by major brain damage, often sustained in traumatic accidents.

As part of the study, Dr. Steven Laureys of the Coma Science Group at the University Hospital of Liege in Belgium and colleagues sent questionnaires to 168 members of the French Association for Locked-in Syndrome, asking them about their medical history, their emotional state and views on euthanasia.

Sixty-five patients used a scale to indicate their sense of well-being, with 47 saying they were happy and 18 unhappy. They were also asked a variety of questions about their lives, including their ability to get around or participate in social functions, or if they had ever considered euthanasia.

They said if patients with locked-in syndrome are properly cared for, they can live for decades. With rehabilitation, many patients can regain some control of their head, fingers, and feet and may be able to talk a little.

Previous research shows people with extreme disabilities can be happy in what is known as "the disability paradox," meaning that even people who have a very limited daily existence, report being happy, contrary to what many experts had assumed.

 

The New York Times ran an interesting article on how the government places a monetary value on life.  The answer determines how much spending the government should require to prevent a single death.

The Environmental Protection Agency set the value of a life at $9.1 million last year in proposing tighter restrictions on air pollution. The agency used numbers as low as $6.8 million during the George W. Bush administration.  The Food and Drug Administration declared that life was worth $7.9 million last year, up from $5 million in 2008.  The Transportation Department has used values of around $6 million to justify recent decisions to impose regulations that the Bush administration had rejected as too expensive, like requiring stronger roofs on cars.

Most independent experts agree that the increases were long overdue, noting that some agencies had been using the same values for more than a decade without adjusting for inflation.   Corporations and Industry representatives argue that assigning a value to life was inherently subjective.  The business community historically has pushed for regulators to put a dollar value on life, part of a broader campaign to make agencies prove that the benefits of proposed regulations exceed the costs.

The current rise in the value of life is based on the work of Professor Viscusi, who wrote his first paper on cost-benefit analysis as a Harvard undergraduate in the early 1970s. He won a prize and found a career.  Professor Viscusi’s work pegs it at around $8.7 million in current dollars.

The Office of Management and Budget told agencies in 2004 that they should pick a number between $1 million and $10 million. That guidance remains in effect, although the office has more recently warned agencies that it would be difficult to justify the use of numbers under $5 million.

 

 

Consumer Watchdog had an article on how "Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse" Groups are directly linked to National Network Funded by Major Tobacco and Corporate Money.  Tort reform advocates are really shills for big greedy corporations.  These groups are part of a national, corporate-backed network of front groups that receive substantial financial and strategic assistance from the tobacco industry and some of America’s biggest corporations based on a new report by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

"Typically called Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA), Lawsuit Abuse Watch, or Stop Lawsuit Abuse (collectively referred to as "CALAs"), these organizations masquerade as "grassroots" citizens groups spontaneously manifesting citizen anger against so-called "lawsuit abuse." The groups aim to incite public scorn for the civil justice system, juries and judges, paving the way for enactment of laws immunizing corporations from liability for actions that harm consumers."

"This report reveals how corporations are deceiving the public to shield themselves from lawsuits by consumers that are injured by their products," stated Pamela Pressley, staff attorney of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) and advocate for FTCR’s Fair Justice Project, a project dedicated to exposing corporate abuses of the justice system. "By forming a national network of phony "citizens" groups, self-serving mega-corporations are able to work behind the scenes to deny Americans access to the courtroom and to create a legal environment that protects corporate wrongdoers from being held accountable."

The report, THE CALA FILES: The Secret Campaign by Big Tobacco and Other Major Industries to Take Away Your Rights, is co-authored by investigative journalist Carl Deal and Joanne Doroshow. "This report shows how large corporations seeking to reduce their liability to consumers created and bankrolled the CALA campaign to manipulate the media, the legislative process, the electoral process and the American public," Doroshow said.

Among the report’s key findings:

Since 1991, "tort reform" advocates have set up dozens of tax-exempt groups in at least 18 states (currently there are 27 active groups) to plant their spurious "lawsuit abuse" message in the media and the public consciousness, and to influence legislation, the judiciary and jurors. Their tax filings and funding sources indicate that they represent major corporations and industries seeking to escape liability for the harm they cause consumers.

A huge cache of documents made public in the late 1990s during state litigation against the tobacco industry reveals that Big Tobacco spent millions of dollars annually supporting the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), its lobbying firm, APCO & Associates, state CALAs and other activities to weaken tort laws in many states.

Tobacco money has gone directly to ATRA, APCO and state organizations and been indirectly funneled to the cause through trade associations, lobbyists and law firms. 

A principal focus of CALA groups since the mid-1990s has been to ensure the election of pro-industry state judges and the defeat of judges who typically support plaintiffs’ verdicts or have voted to strike down state tort law restrictions as unconstitutional.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to advancing and protecting the interests of consumers and taxpayers. For more reports and fact sheets on the commercialization of justice and "tort reform" efforts, visit FTCR’s Fair Justice Project web pages at www.consumerwatchdog.org/justice.

The Center for Justice & Democracy is a non-profit, national consumer organization dedicated to raising public awareness about the importance of our civil justice system. For more information please visit www.centerjd.org. Public Citizen is a consumer advocacy organization with 150,000 members nationwide. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.
 

Jeffery Phillips was nursing home owner/operator who pled guilty to tax evasion and will spend the next three-and-a-half years in jail.  Phillips was the owner of at least 13 businesses in and around Kansas City. Included in his holdings were companies that owned and managed nursing homes, provided nursing home staff, and provided in-home care services.  Phillips must pay $5.8 million in fines, including the $4.7 million in payroll taxes he neglected to pay, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.

 

The Salt Lake Tribune had a great article on William Thomas who is a leader in the online Changing Aging movement and a self-described “nursing-home abolitionist."   Thomas, a professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is the founder of the nonprofit Eden Alternative, an education business that teaches nursing-home administrators how to transform the way they take care of elders.  Eden homes employ a set of beliefs and practices that makes residents’ dignity and autonomy the top priority, with the residents at the helm of the ship.  Eden homes allow animals, encourage outings and fresh air exercise, have gardens and living-room like spaces for families to visit with elders and staffers.

Because the industry wants to maximize profits, nursing homes seem more like jails than home. “The terror people feel is real,” said geriatrician Bill Thomas.

"Thomas and other advocates note that nursing home regulations focus on downside risk, the things that can go horribly wrong. Many of the worst abuses of old nursing homes, such as tying people to bed rails, no longer are tolerated. But institutional rules, such as making everyone eat at the same time, making staffers wear hospital scrubs and making a charge-nurse station the center of activity, still are common."