Pantagraph.com had an article about a Bloomington nursing home paying a reduced $14,500 fine for failing to protect residents from a sex offender who was a patient at the facility.  This is outrageous and shows why lawsuits are necessary to insure that nursing homes are held accountable for their negligence and gross stupidity. 

Asta Care, 1509 N. Calhoun St., failed to screen a male resident who made inappropriate sexual advances to staff and two mentally disabled residents. The acts were noted in nursing records dating to October 2006 at the 117-skilled bed facility but were ignored by management.  The man, who was identified as a sexual offender,  was allowed to remain at Asta Care even after complaints were made by staff. 

Clearly this situation was avoidable if the nursing home simply checked the man’s background.  It is shocking that the nursing home only had to pay a small fine for such outrageous conduct.

Newport News Dailypress.com had an article about a suspicious death of a resident of a nursing home.  There appears to be a link between his death and medicine he got the day before.

A nurse who gave unauthorized medicine last week to a nursing home resident who later died has been fired.  Police are considering whether the medication caused or contributed to the death of John P. Stratton, 76, of Newport News, who was staying at the James River Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center.  Stratton was given the medicine on May 5, and died about 4 a.m. on May 6.

The nurse’s decision to give Stratton the medicine was not an accident.   "She intentionally gave him the medication," police said. "Her intent in giving it to him will have to come out later."

Police are trying to find out whether Stratton was given an increased dose of a medicine he was prescribed, or medicine he wasn’t supposed to get at all.

Joseph Law, James River Convalescent’s administrator, said the nurse — whom he declined to identify — was fired after an internal investigation. The actual reason for her firing, Law said, was separate from the issue surrounding Stratton’s death. "The nurse was terminated because of facility protocol," Law said. "During our investigation some other information was discovered." He did not elaborate. What a bunch of nonsense. Clearly the facility does not want to admit what happened or what they found out in their "internal investigation". 

It could take a month or longer for the toxicology results.  The examination will include any possible interaction between the medicine the nurse gave him and other drugs Stratton was taking.

One of Stratton’s daughters, Denise Barnes of Newport News, said the family doesn’t know what drug or drugs the nurse gave her father.   A staffer at the home brought to his attention the possible link between the medication and Stratton’s death. He then called police and state agencies.

I’m surprised they didn’t fire the staffer who refused to cover it up.

Knoxville News had an article about a nursing home resident who lost a leg due to the nursing home’s neglect.    Neglect of a resident at Hillcrest-West nursing home led to the amputation of her leg last month, according to state reports quoting a doctor who consulted on the case.

The state has censured Hillcrest nursing homes for providing substandard care three times in the past two years.   Obviously the corporate managers ignored the problems and did nothing to correct them.

Now, as in the past, Hillcrest is in danger of losing federal funding if problems aren’t corrected. Hillcrest-West has until May 25 to submit a detailed plan of correction, said Lee Millman, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.   During a survey conducted April 28 through May 2, the state found violations of "resident protection, administration, records and reporting, and nursing services standards."

Details in the recent state report on Hillcrest-West state that the amputee’s pressure wound was at the most severe level when first noted by staff Feb. 7. The leg was amputated above the knee April 22. Doctors said the bone likely was infected and the wound was "exquisitely (intensely) painful" when manipulated.

A podiatrist said the pressure wound was the "result of neglect … the worst wound I have seen in 12 years," and the surgeon who removed the leg concurred, the report states.   The same patient didn’t get the amount of tube-fed nutrition and saline ordered by her doctor, with feedings skipped repeatedly, the report notes. Also, the family was not informed of the pressure wound and was shocked when they learned of the pending amputation, the state report said.

State inspections from 2006 and 2007 report Hillcrest-West patients found on the floor after apparently falling from beds or wheelchairs, failure to properly use restraints or alarms, patients who were unclean, and inadequate staffing.

The North Country Gazette had an article about a recent jury verdict involving a nursing home’s negligence.  A Washington jury ordered Washington County to pay $300,000 to the family of a woman who died as the result of a fall at the county-owned Pleasant Valley Adult Home in Argyle.

Former Fort Edward resident Esther Nolan, 75, died at the adult home in March 2003 following a fall from a toilet. The woman’s death was caused by inadequate staffing and the improper installation of the toilet seat.

This is not a post about a nursing home case.  But it is interesting.  I was emailed a blurb about an article on how the VA is directing their staff (presumably doctors) to avoid diagnosing patients with Post Traumatic Stress disorder. 

The email was titled "suggestion" – and it "suggested" diagnosing patients with a diagnosis which would provide lower disability payments.  Now, of course, the email doesn’t come out and say that – it does, however, come out and say that they should consider a diagnosis of "Adjustment disorder R/O PTSD" – Adjustment disorder certainly sounds less expensive. 

I think all of us have had or will have adjustment disorder ~ adjusting to a new job, adjusting to a new marriage, adjusting to a new divorce, adjusting to a new baby, adjusting to a new house . . . . This is a far cry different from what some of our Soldiers returning home from war experience.  Adjustment disorder doesn’t seem to accurately cover it.

 

Read More →

Here is a link to the recent GAO Report that shows a lack of investigation into nursing home neglect and abuse.  The NY Times ran a great article on this report.  Below are some excerpts from that article.

Nursing home inspectors routinely overlook or minimize problems that pose a serious, immediate threat to patients, Congressional investigators say in a new report.   In the report, the investigators from the Government Accountability Office, say they have found widespread “understatement of deficiencies,” including malnutrition, severe bedsores, overuse of prescription medications and abuse of nursing home residents.

The accountability office found that state employees had missed at least one serious deficiency in 15 percent of the inspections checked by federal officials. In nine states, inspectors missed serious problems in more than 25 percent of the surveys analyzed from 2002 to 2007.

The nine states most likely to miss serious deficiencies were Alabama, Arizona, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming, the report said.

“Poor quality of care — worsening pressure sores or untreated weight loss — in a small but unacceptably high number of nursing homes continues to harm residents or place them in immediate jeopardy, that is, at risk of death or serious injury,” the report said.   Nursing homes must meet federal standards as a condition of participating in Medicaid and Medicare.

Lewis Morris, chief counsel to the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, said he had often been frustrated in trying to identify the owners of nursing homes that provided substandard care.  “We have found nursing home residents who were grossly dehydrated or malnourished,” Mr. Morris said. “We’ve found patients with maggot infestations in wounds and dead flesh. We’ve found residents with broken bones that went unmended.”

Tucson Citizen had an article about a recent jury verdict where a jury awarded a Tucson family $6 million for a death involving an 81-year-old relative who died of a morphine overdose.  Mary Culpepper and two other relatives were awarded $2 million each.  Culpepper sued Manor Care, TMC, a doctor, nurse and pharmacy over the Dec. 8, 2003, death of her mother, Sylvia Culpepper.

She was admitted to TMC on Dec. 2, 2003, suffering from sciatica, a painful nerve condition.
On Dec. 4, 2003, she was prescribed 15 milligrams of morphine twice a day. Two days later, her dosage increased to 30 milligrams, twice a day.   When Culpepper was transferred from TMC to Manor Care, prescription orders contained both dosages.

The Manor Care staff failed to note the discrepancy in the prescriptions and gave her both dosages, both twice a day causing her death.  An autopsy determined that Culpepper died of acute morphine intoxication.

According to the jury’s verdicts, the doctor, nurse and pharmacy weren’t to blame for the death. The nursing home had the ultimate rersponsibility for the medications given to the resident at their facility.

Kathleen Glanville, a writer for The Oregonian, wrote an article about a $900,000 verdict for a resident who was treated ridiculously bad by a nursing home.  The jury ruled that an 86-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease suffered a loss of dignity when Lake Oswego police forced her to the floor of her nursing home and handcuffed her.   The jury awarded more than $900,000 to the family of the late Elvera Stephan for the way she was treated the night of April 13, 2006, at The Pearl at Kruse Way in Lake Oswego.

The jury agreed that Avamere Health Services, the corporate owner of the Alzheimer’s care center, had acted with malice or reckless indifference.  Stephan’s children moved her into the Alzheimer’s care center in early April 2006 after her husband became seriously ill and was hospitalized. Within a few days she became agitated, wandering the nursing home barefoot in her pajamas, confused and, according to her caretakers, dangerously aggressive.

The staff notified a registered nurse in another part of the nursing home, who called the woman’s doctor for guidance. He said Stephan should be taken to the emergency room for evaluation and medication.  The nurse called 9-1-1 to summon an ambulance, and because she told the emergency dispatcher that the patient was extremely aggressive, Lake Oswego police responded as well.

But jurors said she didn’t look dangerous on a surveillance video from the nursing home. She was gesturing with a telephone receiver but didn’t try to hit anyone with it.

Two officers forced the elderly woman to the floor, where they rolled her onto her stomach and handcuffed her hands behind her back. She remained on the floor on her stomach for six minutes until paramedics put her on a stretcher and took her to the hospital, according to Kocher. She returned to The Pearl the next day, when a nurse reported that her wrists were bruised.

A state investigator found the nursing home at fault for failing to assess the woman’s condition and intervene in a timely manner.   Stephan’s son, James, testified that he didn’t learn about what had happened to his mother for six days, when he was told by the relatives of another patient at The Pearl.

The video of the police subduing the woman was played for the jury.   Kocher had asked the jury to award Stephan’s family $1 million to send a message to corporations that care for Oregon’s elderly and vulnerable.

The jury agreed on $4,200 in economic damages — the cost of Stephan’s shared room for a month — and $400,000 in noneconomic damages. The jury then awarded $500,000 in punitive damages. Under state law, 60 percent of punitive damages go to the state victims assistance fund.

 

In Dallas, Texas a local television station has been running background checks on licensed nurses. They have found "thousands of nurses with arrest records." That much didn’t surprise me – but the arrests include murder, kidnapping and arson.

What? Murder?

My immediate thought was, don’t employers do background checks? My second thought was, are these nurses currently employed?

Turns out that the Texas Board of Nursing "wanted to run background checks of all nurses in 2005" but the state didn’t allow the funding at that time. When they finally got the money to do it, they didn’t have enough staff to do it – short staffed at the Board of Nursing.

At any rate, it seems to me that even if the state Board didn’t check, surely employers do – But I certainly wouldn’t assume that. There is a lot of talk out there about a shortage of nurses,but stories like this only confirm my suspicion that it’s more than that – its a shortage of qualified and trustworthy nurses. Imagine if your loved one was being taken care of by a murderer . . . Unacceptable.

To check out the article, click here.

Rome News Tribune has a story about a male resident found dead in the nursing home’s utility closet.  Typically, these closets are locked and only certain staff members have access.  No one knows how the resident got into the closet or how he died.  

The man had been missing from a Georgia nursing home for two weeks but was found dead Wednesday in a utility closet at the facility.  The body of Walter T. Heath was found in a closet near the dining area of the Tara at Thunderbolt Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Heath had been missing since 5 p.m. April 16. He admitted himself into the Thunderbolt facility in February.  After he disappeared, the facility’s staff and Heath’s family members grew concerned about him.   Heath’s wheechair was left near the dining area the day he disappeared, not far from the utility closet where his body was found Wednesday morning.

Hopefully, the autopsy and investigation will reveal what truly happened.