WFMZ reported that a lawsuit was filed over the preventable death of a nursing home resident at Cedarbrook Nursing Home caused by a staffing shortage, a federal lawsuit claims. The suit claims the county-owned facility was “intentionally and grossly understaffed” when resident Shirley Liebenguth fell and later died in 2017.

On July 5, 2017, Liebenguth was being moved by a certified nursing assistant when she was dropped, hitting her face and knees and causing major injury, the lawsuit says.  She needed extensive assistance for all activities of daily living including transfers and bed mobility. Cedarbrook medical records note Liebenguth “rolled out of bed while she was being changed,” but the suit says her fall was “due to the CNA’s lack of training, instruction, supervision…”

She was hospitalized with femur fractures and other injuries, but ultimately died nearly 10 hours later after suffering cardiac arrest and being resuscitated several times, the suit says.

The suit claims Cedarbrook was “intentionally and grossly understaffed” causing a “significant decrease in care that should have been provided” in the two years that Liebenguth was a patient.

 

New British research suggests that high-tech “robopets” are the next best thing for nursing home residents unable to have a beloved pet or those suffering from loneliness.  The robopets stimulate conversations and trigger fond memories of pets or past experiences.

In the new study, Abbott’s group analyzed data from 19 studies involving 900 nursing home residents, family members and staff at centers worldwide. Five different robopets were used in the studies: Necoro and Justocat (cats); Aibo (a dog); Cuddler (a bear); and Paro (a baby seal).

Many nursing home residents were entertained by the robopet even if they realized it wasn’t a real dog or cat. Of course, “residents’ responses could vary according to whether they were living with dementia and according to the severity of the dementia,” Abbott’s team noted.

Some residents talked to the robopet as if it were, in fact, alive and a real animal. Some even made an emotional connection with the “pet.” For example, one resident told staff, “I woke up today and thought, today is going to be a good day because I get to see my friend.”

For others, just holding and stroking the robopet brought “them back into a space in their life where they feel loved,” as one nursing home caretaker put it in the study.

As to whether the robopet felt “real,” one resident’s family member said that it “doesn’t matter, because I can see that the robotic cat has an impact on my dad’s quality of life.”

Besides their other benefits, robopets appeared to boost social interaction with other residents, family members and staff, often by acting as a trigger for conversation, according to the research.

“Of course, robopets are no substitute for human interaction,” she said, “but our research shows that for those who choose to engage with them, they can have a range of benefits.”

The study, which received no private industry funding, was published May 9 in the International Journal of Older People Nursing.

USA Today had the tragic and preventable story of James “Milt” Ferguson Sr., a blind World War II veteran, who died from a head injury suffered at a VA nursing home in Iowa. Ferguson was removed from one-on-one supervision, and he wandered into other residents’ rooms repeatedly, medical records show. When he rolled his wheelchair into one room unsupervised Dec. 20, 2018, his son said VA staff told him the resident of the room flipped Ferguson backwards out of his wheelchair. He landed on his head, causing a massive brain bleed.  A surveillance camera captured footage of James Ferguson Sr.’s fatal injury at a Veterans Affairs nursing home.

People are outraged that he wasn’t monitored more closely and what policies are in place to prevent a similar injury or death.  A USA TODAY investigation that chronicled Ferguson’s case and what specialists say was a concerning series of decisions by VA staff, before and after his deadly injury.

Nursing staff didn’t report the incident for 40 minutes, according to the records and surveillance video. They didn’t take him to the emergency room for more than two hours and he wasn’t transferred to a trauma hospital until five hours after the fall. He died from the injury two days later.
Ferguson was admitted to the acute psychiatry ward at the VA Medical Center in Des Moines in November after his dementia worsened. He had been in a private nursing home but became aggressive and wandered into other residents’ rooms. VA healthcare providers adjusted his medications and placed him on one-on-one observation with an aide to prevent him from straying into other rooms.

But on Dec. 11, 2018, staff removed the strict observation even though he was still determined to be a danger to himself and others, the medical records show. He was transferred to the VA nursing home on the medical center’s campus the next day. Ferguson continued to enter other residents’ rooms repeatedly, but records show staff did not reinstate strict observation.

After the head injury at 3:49 p.m. Dec. 20, Ferguson wasn’t taken to the emergency room until about 6:30 p.m., and he wasn’t transferred to a trauma hospital until 8:55 p.m.

A jury has awarded $6 million to the wife of James Romano, a nursing home resident confined to a wheelchair after breaking his hip in a fall at Clove Lakes Health Care and Rehabilitation Center nursing home.  Romano fell out of a wheelchair on April 14, 2011.  Romano had been brought to the facility a week earlier to undergo short-term rehabilitation for a back fracture suffered when he fell at home on April 1, 2011.

He was supposed to remain for about three or four weeks and then be released home in ambulatory condition.  The nursing home failed to supervise and offer assistance which allowed him to fall while attempting to stand up out of the wheelchair.

Romano suffered a left hip fracture, resulting in partial hip-replacement surgery at Staten Island University Hospital on April 15, 2011. He remained at University Hospital until April 26, when he was returned to the nursing home.  Romano stayed there for about three more years, confined to a wheelchair due to the hip fracture, until his death at age 87 on March 22, 2014.

Delores M. Romano, the victim’s wife, sued the nursing home.  She alleged Clove Lakes was negligent in failing to take preventive measures, such as using a seat belt, restraining belt or a table tray, to prevent Romano from falling out of the wheelchair. In addition, she alleged there wasn’t sufficient staff on duty, and Romano wasn’t properly supervised.

“It made the last three years of his life very difficult,” said the lawyer. “It stole time from his wife and family.”

Herbert said the trial began with opening statements on April 11, and the jury reached a unanimous verdict on April 17.

The panel deliberated about two hours before finding in favor of the plaintiffs, he said.

A DeKalb County jury awarded $1.8 million to the estate of a nursing home resident who died as a consequence of hitting her head in a fall from bed as the staff carelessly changed the bed linens while she remained in the bed.  She suffered a brain injury after an aide rolled her off her bed, causing her to fall to the floor and hit her head.  The jury verdict covered the pain and suffering of Christine Mitchell but included no damage award on an accompanying wrongful death claim.

Attorneys for the woman’s son and executor said the verdict revealed that a jury could find value in the suffering of even terminally ill plaintiffs.  Mitchell, who was already in poor health, died a month after the 2015 fall at Grace Healthcare of Tucker.  Grace Healthcare of Tucker is a 136-bed for-profit facility which is part of a Tennessee-based chain that operates more than 30 homes in multiple states.  The home currently has a 1-star rating — the lowest — on the federal government’s “Nursing Home Compare” website. The federal website rates the facility as “much below average” on the three key categories of health inspections, staffing and quality measures.

“One of the interesting things about this kind of case is how a jury would look at her. What is the pain and suffering worth for a woman dropped on her head who probably only had another six months to live?” said Evan Jones of Athens’ Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley.

“The jury answered that very important question: Their pain and suffering does matter,” said Jones, who tried the case with co-counsel Michael Prieto, William Holbert and Jonathan Marigliano of Prieto, Marigliano, Holbert & Prieto, an Atlanta firm.

Jones said his team made a $500,000 offer of settlement on the pain and suffering claim and a similar offer on wrongful death in September, both of which were declined.

Kathleen Menard is the six million dollar woman. Menard was a resident of the Harbor Place assisted living facility in Port St. Lucie.

In July 2017 Menard fell while walking without assistance or supervision outside the facility.  The facility had given her a safety pendant, where if she falls, she can press the pendant to get help and the staff were to come out and help. But there was one big problem: the staff never told her the pendant didn’t work outside.

A visitor found Menard unconscious. It is unclear how long she was lying on the ground.  She had suffered burns in the extreme heat and fatal heatstroke. She died 87 days later.

Menard’s family sued Port St. Lucie Retirement Investors. A jury compensated her and her family with a six million dollar verdict after winning a wrongful death lawsuit.

“I’m hoping legislation will change and it’ll also change for other people so nobody ever has to go through this. This is the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life and I will never, ever live it down,” said Menard’s daughter.

 

 

THI OF SOUTH CAROLINA AT CHARLESTON, LLC is a nursing home in North Charleston owned and operated by Fundamental Long Term Care Holdings LLC which is now known as Hunt Valley Holdings.  The facility is known as Riverside Health and Rehab.  The facility is awful as most of the facilities in that infamous national for-profit chain tend to be because of the policy to under-staff to increase profits.

Riverside is again facing a wrongful death lawsuit because a resident was neglected and died after the facility failed to take care of her.  An expert affidavit states that based on the medical records of the woman who died, it was documented the woman was at high risk for falls, but the facility’s employees failed to “properly implement fall prevention measures” to keep her safe.

The lawsuit was filed last month and claims a woman was admitted to Riverside Health and Rehab in September 2015.  About a year later, employees at the facility allegedly found her on the floor of her room with a laceration above her right eyebrow.  A couple days later, the resident got a fever and was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with dehydration and severe malnutrition.

A couple days after that, the lawsuit says that woman died as a consequence of the traumatic fall.

Public records from the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control show this facility has a long history of complaints.

In the last five years, people have filed at least 43 complaints against Riverside. That’s more complaints than any other nursing home in Charleston County.

Almost six years ago, nursing home resident Bertha Davis fell and was injured at the Pensacola Health Care Facility. The fall caused a blood vessel to burst and blood to begin pooling in a portion of her brain. As a consequence, Bertha dies 4 days later.  Her three children filed a civil lawsuit against the nursing home’s parent company, SV/Jupiter Properties Inc., doing business as the Pensacola Health Care Facility, and its management company, S/V Home Office Inc.

Recently, a jury returned a verdict ruling that not only did the fall ultimately kill Davis, but that the nursing home was negligent in its care and allowed the fall to occur. The jury also awarded a total of $200,000 to Davis’ children.  It took a long time but justice was done.

 Attorney Samuel Bearman represented the estate of Bertha Davis.

“I think the jury’s ruling was that the nursing home had not done everything that it could have done — and that should have done — to prevent Ms. Davis from falling,” Bearman said. “The nursing home failed to follow its own care plan, designed to prevent Ms. Davis from falling.”

Charlene Hunter James, President of AARP Texas, wrote the following for TribTalk, a publication of the Texas Tribune.

Imagine the horror of living in a deep fog day in and day out. Your steps, if you’re able to walk, are wobbly. Your memories are confused. Your grasp of reality is lost.

And to discover that you’ve been purposefully sedated for no legitimate reason.

Federal reports show that thousands of nursing home residents in Texas are being inappropriately prescribed antipsychotics. They’re not given the drugs because of psychiatric conditions for which they can legitimately be prescribed. Rather, they are being administered for other causes. Sometimes, it’s merely for the convenience of nursing home staff.

It’s called a chemical restraint and it’s akin to the way people were handled in the Dark Ages.

This is a misuse of one of the most powerful classes of psychiatric drugs. For those with dementia, which is not uncommon among nursing home residents, receiving antipsychotics is especially dangerous, even deadly. That’s why the Food and Drug Administration gives these medicines a black-box warning: an alert of an increased risk of death among people with dementia.

No one disputes that providing daily care for nursing home residents is a patience- and stamina-testing ordeal. Attending to these moms, dads, grandparents and other loved ones is a truly honorable profession. Working with those who have Alzheimer’s and other dementia adds greatly to the frustrations.

Through music and memory programs, and other therapies, Texas and some other states have made progress over recent years in reducing inappropriate use of antipsychotics among nursing home residents. But this crisis in care has by no means been eradicated.

So, it’s exasperating that lobbyists for the nursing home and medical industries this legislative session are opposing reasonable proposals to rectify the problem.

Today, the law says that nursing home residents must give consent for antipsychotics to be administered. And yet, all too often, family members of nursing home residents still report a lack of awareness of these drugs being administered. They see sudden and solemn changes in the mental well-being of their loved ones. Later they learn — or come to suspect — a culprit: antipsychotics being administered without their knowledge.

A stronger consent law that would require written consent of a nursing home resident or a legal decision-maker. And that’s essentially what’s offered in Senate Bill 1212 by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills and House Bill 2050 by Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall.

To improve nursing home safety, please ask your state representative and senator to support those bills.

Disclosure: AARP has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. 

The family of Barbara Jones-Davis is suing Wesley Enhanced Living assisted living facility because the facility’s negligence resulted in their loved one’s death. The resident, who was visually impaired and suffered from dementia, was allowed and able to leave the facility unsupervised and was killed after falling from the second floor onto a sidewalk.

The incident happened July 2018 when Jones-Davis opened an unguarded and unlocked door on the side of the facility and wandered outside alone. The door Jones-Davis used to exit allegedly had an alarm, but surveillance video shows no one from the facility responded to the alarm for 25 minutes  She was outside for 23 minutes until she walked to the edge of the property and fell almost two stories onto the sidewalk. An employee allegedly later closed the door without inspecting the property for any residents who may have left.

Jones-Davis was found alive by a passerby and was taken to the hospital where she later died.  The facility allegedly learned of the incident about an hour later when a nurse was notified.

“Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley and its security contractor, U.S. Security Associates, were both negligent and grossly negligent for failing to put the appropriate systems, processes, and precautions in place to prevent such an event from happening, especially where similar instances involving unsupervised residents who wandered from the facility had occurred previous to this tragedy,” alleges the suit.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services say there have been three recent incidents where residents have left the facility unsupervised, according to the lawsuit.