WFLA reported that two CNAs were caught on camera tormenting a 76 year old Alzheimer’s patient after hidden camera footage of the Palm Garden nursing home was released to the State Attorney’s Office. The other CNAs in the room may well face charges even though they did not directly participate in the battery. None of the CNAs in the video are still employed at Palm Garden.
KSDK reported that Walter Javier Martinez pled guilty to four counts of elder abuse. Martinez was employed at a nursing home where he committed sexual assault, forcible rape and sodomy on residents. His punishment? He received only one year in jail, can no longer work with the elderly, and surrendered his healthcare license.
The Times Union reported that Terry Tinker, LPN at Evergreen Common Nursing Home, and another aide at the home found a resident who suffered from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in the floor in distress. Tinker and the aide moved the resident to her wheelchair. Tinker didn’t check the resident’s vital signs, nor did she report the fall to her supervisor. The resident had a broken hip, but this wasn’t found out until later because there was no assessment thanks to Tinker’s failure to notify her superior. Tinker has been charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person and willful violation of health laws.
Preventable medical errors are a common phenomenon, much more common than most people want to think. Though not a topic many people give a lot of thought to, preventable medical errors are one of those things which should outrage us. Though preventable medical errors occur quite a bit in hospitals, they occur even more in nursing homes. Main St. recently wrote an article on the subject detailing the frightening frequency of preventable medical errors in nursing homes.
The article is based on a report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which says that an estimate 1500 or more Medicare patients in a nursing home after hospitalization died because of preventable medical errors. More than 20,000 patients “experienced at least one adverse event, and more than 11,000 patients suffered a temporary harm event, one that could be corrected.”
In addition to problems one would typically associate with a nursing home, like pressure ulcers and overmedication, patients also experienced effects not typically seen in homes like gastrointestinal bleeding, caused by overprescribing blood thinners. Most of the patients who were subjected to “an adverse event” had to go back to the hospital, costing $208 million. 60% of these cases were thought to be caused by preventable medical errors. The cost of medical errors could be much higher, with previous Office of the Inspector General reports finding that “27% of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries had adverse events or were harmed, half of which were thought to be preventable, costing an estimated $4.4 billion annually.” Experts in the field associate this problem with short staffing and a lack of training in gerontology, or the care of older persons. See article at Main Street.
Amanda McCalister has been charged with theft from the elderly after reportedly stealing money from resident’s rooms. McCalister worked as a nursing aide in the nursing home where the theft occurred. She was caught after one resident’s family complained about missing money on two separate occasions. see article here.
Amber P. Hults, of Quaker Hill Manor Nursing Home, has been accused of stealing sensitive credit card information from a resident. Hults worked in the home and abused her position to commit grand larceny – spending more than $1,000 on personal items. See article here.
Debra Morris Barrios was arrested after stealing more than $50,000 from five residents at a nursing home where she worked. She also reallocated other resident’s funds to cover the theft, to the tune of more than $75,000 which had been rearranged. Barrios reportedly confessed to the home’s administrators and offered to pay restitution by cashing in her retirement plan. See article here.
Kaiser Health News had an interesting article about the medical profession. The idea of the “15 Minute Visit”, where doctors spend a short amount of time with patients after waiting months for an appointment, sometimes hours in the waiting room, and have a list of complaints for their doctor, are becoming increasingly more common. Though the amount of time that doctors spend with patients has always hovered around 15 minutes, the quality of that time is being reduced drastically. Health care in America is increasingly based on quantity not quality of care. Doctors aren’t being paid as well per patient. To make up for this, doctors are increasingly having to see more patients to make their overhead and other costs.
This time crunch mainly results in patients feeling less satisfied with their doctors, though there are some negative side effects as well, such as an increased chance of patients being prescribed medications rather than behavioral changes, a missed opportunity to get patients invested in their health by not making a connections with them, and a focus on the primary reason a patient is visiting which can lead to ignoring secondary concerns they might have. These secondary concern could range from minor ailments to symptoms of larger health concerns.
Though the visits are still about the same time in length as always, studies have shown that “doctors let patients speak for only 23 seconds before redirecting them” and that patients were often “interrupted after 12 seconds, if not by the health care provider then by a beeper or a knock on the door.” Dr. Alex Lickerman, director of the University of Chicago’s Student Health and Counseling Services, said, “People feel dissatisfied when they don’t get a chance to say what they have to say.” One way that you can make the most of your doctor’s visits is to go in knowing what you want to discuss. Sometimes patient make lists, but you should also prioritize your lists. As David Rothman, who studies at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, said, “Doctors have one eye on the patient and one eye on the clock.”
The silver tsunami is coming. And it’s going to impact a ton of people. In 2026, the oldest of the baby boomer generation will turn 80. The boomers, the second largest generation to date (with Millenials expected to surpass them this year), will be entering a period where they need nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home care, and retirement communities. The need for these and similar types of services will skyrocket. And currently, there’s not enough facilities to meet the demand.
Though some are preparing for the so-called silver tsunami, many are not. This lack of preparation might have disastrous consequences in the next decade. Many nursing homes are expanding operations to prepare for the influx of baby boomers, and many are beginning construction to be ready by 2026. But the cost of nursing homes will rise in the coming years, which can affect not only baby boomers, but all of us, as Medicaid and Medicare cover much of the cost for nursing home stays. With the annual cost of a nursing home projected to be more than $100,000 in the next decade, it’s easy to see why nursing homes and boomers alike need to be prepared. see article at Crains Detroit.
It might not be called murder, but prescribing medication to an unsuspecting patient which has a 60% increased risk of death after usage sounds kind of like it to me. Antipsychotic drugs are often given to patients to help calm their behavior and keep them quiet. The side effects of these drugs, which were never intended to be used for this purpose, is a 60% increased risk of death.
Though we have discussed this problem in America, it’s actually quite common across the globe. In Canada, The Star investigated the use of antipsychotics to sedate patients. “It discovered that in over 40 homes across Ontario, nearly half of the inhabitants are given these anti-psychotics. In about 300 homes, more than a third are on the pills. One home uses them on about 75 percent of patients.” This included olanzapine, quetiapine, and ten other drugs which are not approved for use on people with dementia.
Many of these drugs carry the strongest warning label on the box – the black box. The government is aware of the overprescription of these drugs, but says that doctors prescribe them and patients and families agree to them. The problem is, that while that may technically be correct, many patients and families don’t know what the drug does or what the side effects are. Not explaining the drug to patients and their families means that they don’t get to make the choice to use that medication, which is proven that it can have disastrous consequences. See full article here.
The Long Island Press reported that Jolly Stewart was arrested for various charges including endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, falsifying business records, and willful violation of health laws. Stewart worked at the J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility as a CNA. The facility has since closed, but while it was operational, Stewart is accused of moving a patient without help from another nurse or aide and without help from a mechanical lift. When the patient fell, Stewart reportedly failed to report it, even though the resident sustained injuries including a five-inch head laceration, fractured knee, and bruising to her heel and buttocks. Stewart then falsified the patient’s chart, stating that she gave all care with no incident. Stewart could face four years in jail.
William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1995. He was 61 years old. Before his diagnosis, Utermohlen was a successful artist. Though his legacy may be his paintings pre-1995, the work he did between 1995-2000 provides a poignant and distressing look at Alzheimer’s. After his diagnosis, Utermohlen began painting a self-portrait each year. Each portrait represents Utermohlen as he saw himself. The portraits ended in 2000 when Utermohlen went into a nursing home. The series begins with a straightforward portrait of Utermohlen but they quickly descend into portraits that are less clear, more abstract, and even the colors he paints with are darker. It’s a fascinating and distressing look into the mind of Alzheimer’s. See full article at The Chive.