The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that a personal injury law firm, McHugh Fuller Law Group of Hattiesburg, Miss., can target a specific defendant in advertising for new clients.  The unanimous opinion reversed the permanent injunction against all advertising targeting nursing homes run by PruittHealth Inc.

The law firm ran a full-page color advertisement for a month in the Moultrie Observer starting in March 2015. At the top is a photo of the nursing home and its sign before it changed its name from UniHealth. The headline said, “Attention!” The copy said the law firm is “currently accepting cases against PruittHealth-Moultrie (formerly known as UniHealth Post-Acute Care-Moultrie) for resident care related issues.” The ad suggested contacting the law firm “if you suspect that a loved one was neglected or abused at PruittHealth–Moultrie.”

Pruitt is a for profit chain which operates in Georgia and South Carolina with a history of issues and problems.

The opinion held that “The ad did not attempt to link PruittHealth’s marks directly to McHugh Fuller’s own goods or services,” The opinion states “McHugh Fuller was advertising what it sells – legal services, which are neither unwholesome nor degrading – under its own trade name, service mark, and logo, each of which appears in the challenged ad.”

The Court went on to say that no one reading the ad “would think that McHugh Fuller was doing anything other than identifying a health care facility that the law firm was willing to sue over its treatment of patients. In short, the ad very clearly was an ad for a law firm and nothing more.”

The case is McHugh Fuller Law Group v. PruittHealth, No. S16A0655.

Fox News had an article about the declining rate of people suffering from dementia.  A new study released shows the rate of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in adults aged 65 and up dropped to about 9 percent in 2012 from nearly 12 percent in 2000, continuing a decline noted in earlier research. Led by University of Michigan researchers, the study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Dementia was most common in the oldest adults; in 2012 almost 30 percent of adults aged 85 and up were afflicted versus just 3 percent of those 65-74.

The dementia rate declined amid a rise in diabetes and heart disease. Both increase risks for Alzheimer’s and other dementias but the researchers say better treatment for both diseases may explain the results.

Obesity rates also increased, while dementia was most common among underweight adults. Previous research has shown weight loss may precede dementia by several years and that late-life obesity may be healthier than being underweight.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that about 5 million people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s, and that is expected to rise to almost 14 million by 2050.



WFAA reported the horrific case of attempted sexual assault of a resident at Modern Senior Living Nursing Home.  A resident says she woke up to find Ngozi Nwokori groping her. She told police he unzipped his pants, exposed himself and climbed on top of her, trying to rip the bed sheets from her hands. It was a noise in the hallway that she says finally scared him off.

In fact, Modern Senior Living staff say video from a hallway confirmed Nwokori was in the victim’s room when he shouldn’t have been the night of the assault.

Curtis Clinesmith is a Dallas attorney who serves clients of nursing home abuse. He says families placing loved ones should ask about a facility’s video surveillance.

“One of the first things they should ask is if there are cameras available and what their access to that footage is,” he said.

In 2001, Texas became the first state to allow video monitoring in nursing home rooms.

“They can certainly put a camera in their loved one’s room and that sometimes acts as a deterrent,” said Clinesmith.

It could be an extra layer of defense when a family member is the most vulnerable.


The Tribune-Review reported the arrest of Martha Bell for what police say was a $322,200 swindle of an 89-year-old man.  The Allegheny County district attorney’s office said Bell falsely told the man he could invest in Medicare “bed licenses” that she claimed to control.  Bell got out of jail in 2013 after serving more than seven years in prison for insurance fraud and the unrelated death of a patient at a nursing home.

A bed license allows a nursing home to do business in Pennsylvania and is administered by the state Department of Health.

Bell told the victim she owned about 120 bed licenses, which she planned to sell for $25,000 apiece, totaling $3 million, according to a criminal complaint. She told the man she needed money to complete the sale, and he agreed to loan her $322,200.

Bell was arraigned on charges of theft by deception, receiving stolen property and deceptive or fraudulent business practices.

Bell had founded and served as administrator of the now-defunct Ronald Reagan Atrium I Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Robinson.

She spent more than two years in prison for the October 2001 death of an 88-year-old woman who wandered outside the nursing home on a 40-degree night and died. Bell was convicted in 2007 of involuntary manslaughter, neglect of a care-dependent person, reckless endangerment and conspiracy.

The death investigation led to the Medicare fraud charges, which cost Bell five more years in prison.  Bell denied the charges, and said “I have been innocent of all charges, including the charges that I was incarcerated for. I’ve been a political prisoner.”

Medical malpractice premiums and claims are at historic lows.  Americans for Insurance Reform, a coalition of nearly 100 consumer and public interest groups representing more than 50 million people, has published two new studies of the medical malpractice insurance industry. Copies of the studies can be found here:

Stable Losses/Unstable Rates 2016

Premium Deceit 2016: The Failure of “Tort Reform to Cut Insurance Prices

Stable Losses/Unstable Rates 2016.

·      When adjusted for medical care inflation, both premiums and claims per physician are currently at their lowest level in four decades.

·      When adjusted by urban consumers CPI index (a more conservative inflationary adjustment) premiums are the lowest they have ever been, and claims are at their lowest since 1982.

·      Total medical malpractice payouts have never spiked and have generally tracked the rate of inflation, while premiums for doctors have sharply increased three times over the last 40 years: 1974-1977; 1985-1988, and; 2002-2006.

·     At no time were these three periods of severe rate hikes (i.e. “hard” insurance market) connected to any increase in claims or tort system costs, which have remained stable.

Sonya King has pleaded guilty to second-degree endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person or an incompetent of physically disabled person at Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.  The certified nurse aide will serve four months in jail for punching an 87-year-old nursing-home resident in the face, causing several fractures.  She admitted to the incident on Jan. 23, according to the Attorney General’s office.

“Nursing home residents and their loved ones deserve the peace of mind of knowing that residents will receive the best care possible, and will be treated with the utmost respect. To physically assault an elderly resident is utterly reprehensible. This sentence sends the message that nursing home staffers who endanger the welfare of those in their care will be held accountable,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

U.S. News & World Report issued their annual list of America’s Best Nursing Homes and released its new Nursing Home Finder.  The U.S. News Nursing Home Finder offers comprehensive information about care, safety, health inspections, staffing and more for nearly every nursing home in the country. With this tool, individuals can easily conduct a customized search for a highly rated nursing home by location, distance, Medicare and Medicaid coverage and size.

The 2,000-plus nursing homes that earned the designation of a U.S. News & World Report Best Nursing Home for 2016-17 represent about 13 percent of all homes and reflect a 41 percent decrease from last year.

WTNH reported the arrest of 26-year-old Hunter Scott McGinty for fourth-degree sexual assault and three counts second-degree sexual assault. McGinty is an employee of Wilton Meadows Health Care nursing home accused of sexually assaulting two residents.

According to police, they received a complaint from Wilton Meadows Health Care about inappropriate contact between a certified nursing assistant and an 82-year-old female patient.  Police determined McGinty inappropriately touched the woman during the course of his duties. Police were also able to determine he also assaulted a 66-year-old patient in August and September.


Genesis Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest for profit nursing home chains, purchased five nursing homes from Revera Inc. in Vermont.  Genesis owns about 200 facilities in New England and more than 500 nationwide.

Short-term rehab patients (generally staying for up to 100 days) make up about 15 percent of all patients and many are young and have sustained injuries or illnesses they are recovering from. Often they are looking for more privacy, as well as internet and other services.

During the months leading to approval of the sale by Vermont health care officials, Genesis operated the facilities under a management contract.

On its website, Genesis, based in Kennett Square, Pa., lists more than 500 skilled nursing centers and assisted/senior living communities in 34 states, as well as the Genesis Rehab Services division, provides therapy in approximately 1,700 locations in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

The Indiana Gazette reported the guilty pleas of Lance D. Shirey and Tonya R. Shirey, the owners and operators of Shirey Personal Care Home, charged in the death of Gary Armstrong.  Armstrong died of a fentanyl overdose from his prescribed patches. In a plea agreement, each pleaded guilty to a charge of recklessly endangering another person.

In an affidavit of probable cause, the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Human Services said the keeping of medication logs and failure to recognize overdose symptoms led to the death of Armstrong on May 8, 2014.

Investigators said Lance Shirey told them he saw Armstrong chewing on something between 4:30 and 5 p.m. May 7, but assumed it was food. Tonya Shirey told DHS interviewers that Lance told her he thought it could have been a patch.

Lance Shirey told investigators he found a chewed gel patch in Armstrong’s hand between 8 and 8:30 p.m. and that the patient was slumped over. Armstrong was then put to bed unresponsive.

An aide said she and Lance and Tonya Shirey went into Armstrong’s room at 10 p.m. to change him due to a leaking catheter bag and noticed his breathing was hard and raspy and that bubbles were coming out of his mouth. The aide and Tonya Shirey discussed calling 911. The aide couldn’t find a fentanyl patch on Armstrong’s body and found a patch in his mouth, but it was erroneously believed it to be a nicotine patch.

At 1 a.m., the aide said he did not seem to be breathing and had a weak pulse. She woke Lance and Tonya Shirey, placed Armstrong on the floor and gave CPR. Medical responders stopped their rescue attempts at 1:44 a.m.

DHS said Tonya Shirey told them they had problems keeping track of Armstrong’s fentanyl patches. Investigators said they also detailed other problems with medication logs.

A doctor from Pennsylvania Toxicologists P.C. told investigators it was “gross negligence” that the personal care home failed to initiate an emergency response when he was first found unresponsive at 8 p.m. and again at 10 p.m.