Woman admits stealing from Hyde Park nursing home January 14, 2008  See full article here.

A former employee of a nursing home faces prison after admitting in court today she stole more than $8,000 from a resident of the home.  Melissa Johnson acknowledged she had stolen the money by using the woman’s debit card between February and August 2006. 

Johnson had been placed on probation in May of 2006 on an unrelated conviction on a felony forgery charge. She admitted today she had violated the terms of her probationary sentence by carrying out the thefts from the woman at the nursing home.

Family of man who disappeared sues Gooding nursing home.  The family of a man who allegedly wandered away from the Idaho nursing home five years ago has sued thecorporation that operates the facility.

In the lawsuit filed on behalf of Magic Valley Manor resident John Henry Davis allege the home and Northwest Bec-Corp didn’t supervise him or keep him safe and free from harm.

Wendell, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, disappeared in July 2002.

Indiana Court awarded damages to nursing home whistleblower.  A whistleblower who claimed she was fired in retaliation for reporting an employee who was sexually abusing a patient at Heritage Manor Nursing Home in Colfax recieved $17,000.

Earlier the state fined Heritage for failing to report the suspected abuse to the state public health department.  Judge Charles Reynard awarded $10,0000 in pain and suffering to whistleblower Michele Bolster. He pointed out the widow had nine children, including six adopted with special needs, and that Bolster’s firing left her with the uncertainty of having medical insurance. Judge Reynard called it, "particularly excruciating."

Heritage Enterprises issued a statement calling Bolster a disgruntled employee who has used numerous avenues to accuse the company of wrongdoing but says her allegations have been proven false.

See full article here.

Dothan, Alabama police have arrested a 68-year-old man and charged him with molesting a woman at the nursing home where he lived last month. See full article here.

Aaron Howell is a convicted sex offender.  Howell violated the state community notification act when he moved into Westside Terrace Health and Rehabilitation Center on Nov. 30.  During the month of December he sexually abused an adult female employee there.

The violation to the state community notification act was discovered after an employee at the rehabilitation center viewed the sex offender Web site.  Thursday, Dothan police investigators charged Howell with felony first-degree sex abuse, and two felony violations of the community notification act.

Howell faces the new sexual assault charges nearly 15 years after he was convicted of molesting a 6-year-old girl in February 1993. Howell pleaded guilty in 1993 to first-degree sex abuse after Houston County investigators charged him when he lived in Cottonwood. 

We’ve all heard the argument made by the insurance companies and nursing home industry: so-called tort “reform” will lead to better healthcare for everyone. This is the line that the insurance and medical industries have been pushing in states all across the country.  The truth is that patients in states with arbitrary restrictions on their access to the legal accountability system are more likely to have worse overall healthcare.

Using the non-profit Commonwealth Fund’s independent ranking of state health system performance, access, and quality, Texas Watch compared states that restrict patient access to the courthouse with those that do not. In every category, it is clear that patients in states that restrict patients’ legal rights fare worse than those in states that allow patients to hold wrongdoers accountable.

Here are the key findings:

69% of states with poorest overall health system performance (bottom quartile) limit patient access to the courts
79% of states with the worst access to healthcare limit patient access to the courts
84% of states with the poorest quality of care limit patient access to the courts

To read the full report, click here.

A Rockport, Arkansas nursing home chose to evict an elderly resident who was chronically ill. The home dropped her off at a motel in Aransas Pass and never notified the family. 

The home claims it wasn’t getting paid for her to stay there.  Ladewig suffers from chronic bronchitis and a muscle disease. Ladewig said she was brought to this motel room after getting evicted. Her family were never told about the move.

When nursing home personnel dropped her off, the family said they left her with food for the weekend and these two portable oxygen tanks that would last about eight hours.

"I would have run out of oxygen and died," said Ladewig. "That’s what would have happened to me if she wouldn’t have come out looking for me. That’s what would have happened."

"There is no phone in this facility, even if in the middle of night she went in respiratory failure or a situation where she couldn’t get up, she has no way to contact anybody, whatsoever," Biggs said.

The family said the nursing home was paid through early December.

A nursing home in Squirrel Hill was fined more than $20,000 after being accused of restraining patients to their beds.  According to Health Department surveyors, patients at the Wightman Street nursing home were restrained, but there was no documentation by doctors showing the restraints were necessary.

According to the inspection report, one patient was found with a seat belt wrapped tightly around his chest, on the floor in front of his wheelchair.  The facility failed to investigate the incident.

A health department official said the facility used the restraints far too often. Typically, restraints are used on residents to prevent them from falling out of bed or wheelchairs.

Here is the full article.

The Naplenews had a frightening article about a recent lawsuit that chronicles severe neglect of a resident. 
Sophie Arvigo moved into Lakeside Pavilion Nursing Home in Naples.  After several years there, her care and treatment took a dramatic turn for the worse.

There was neglect that led to painful and humiliating medical problems, and traumatic injuries that resulted from physical mishandling by staff.   The family contends nursing home staff dropped Arvigo from a Hoyer lift, a sling-like device to move immobile individuals, and wasn’t taken for X-rays until two days later despite outcries of pain.  She suffered an impacted hip fracture that was not recognized by the staff despite numerous signs and symptoms of a broken bone.

She was injured a second time while being wheeled in her wheelchair and a third time while being moved again in a Hoyer lift.   The complaint said the nursing home staff and administrators were negligent by failing to protect Arvigo against injuries and for failure to properly hire, retain and supervise nurses who were qualified and capable of treating her as expected in the nursing profession.

The nursing staff failed to address Arvigo’s numerous bouts of dehydration and severe weight loss, numerous urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, bed sores and odorous drainage from her left ear, among other medical conditions.

The complaint also says the nursing home failed to notify a doctor about the significant changes in Arvigo’s condition and failed to follow doctor’s orders for her treatment, including monitoring her changes.

The Chicago Tribune has a story about the suspicious deaths possibly caused by morphine overdose at a nursing home.  McHenry County prosecutors acknowledge the suspicious deaths at the Woodstock Residence nursing home in Woodstock have been difficult to pursue.  Three bodies were exhumed last year, and tissue samples were sent to a Pennsylvania lab for analysis.

The bodies of three others whose deaths investigators consider suspicious could not be examined because they were cremated.  Alissa Nataupsky, administrator of the Woodstock Residence, has denied any wrongdoing at the home and has said the investigation was triggered by a former employee.

When Cole, 78, died in September 2006, the cause of death was listed as pneumonia. Cole had been living at the Woodstock Residence for two months.

If lab results do not conclusively show that morphine overdoses caused the deaths of the three former residents whose bodies were exhumed, a grand jury might be used to further investigate the case, a law enforcement source said. 

The West Virginia Supreme court recently discussed how pre-suit notice and expert affidavit creates absurd results. This is very important since South Carolina passed similar legislation 2 years ago.  The article was written by Justin D. Anderson for Daily Mail Capitol Reporter.

Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher wrote  "I dissent to express my hope that, in the future, the court or the Legislature will recognize the absurd and unconstitutional effects of the (reform) and either strike down or repeal (the reform) in its entirety," in a dissenting opinion last week. 

The lower court found – and the Supreme Court agreed – that the lawsuit should have complied with the requirements of the Medical Professional Liability Act of 1986 because it stems from the administration of health care.  Under the act, plaintiffs have to file pre-lawsuit notices to the defendants and an affidaivt from a qualified expert.

Also, under the act, the plaintiffs’ non-economic damages will be capped at $250,000 and $500,000 for other damages.

Starcher called the pre-lawsuit requirements "pointless procedural hoops" because a jury could determine whether or not the sutures were safe.  "To the contrary, application of the (Medical Professional Liability Act) to the instant case clearly demonstrates the absurdity of the (act), and demonstrates why the Legislature should exercise restraint when it attempts to meddle with centuries-old common law principles," Starcher wrote.

He continued, "The only impact the (act) might have is to deprive injured plaintiffs of their rightful damages, by capping the damages that can be recovered at an arbitrary amount that has no relationship to the evidence." 

Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis, in a footnote to the original opinion in this case, declared that the pre-lawsuit requirements violated the state constitution, which says the Supreme Court makes such rules, not the Legislature. The constitution also guarantees access to the courts for all people and justice administered without "sale, denial or delay."

Starcher called the act "cookie-cutter" legislation that has created "absurd conundrums." He said the courts are more responsible and adept at making meaningful changes than the Legislature.

"But the Legislature, when changing the common law, often makes drastic statutory changes in response to real or perceived crises, and often without a clear understanding of the impact those changes might have on individual cases."