Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

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gloveimagemorguefilemelodi2.jpgAfter an accident, the responsible party may put into practice remedial measures to prevent the type of injury that occurred from happening again. If you are the victim of an accident that could have been prevented, you may believe that the remedial measures prove the responsible party was negligent. However, only under limited circumstances are those measures admissible in evidence.

In a recent Maine Supreme Court case, a deceased woman’s estate appealed a judgment in favor of the nursing home where she had fallen and died. The woman was 85 when she died. The nursing home had created an individualized care plan for the woman, as it did for all its residents. The plan accounted for her propensity to fall, and it was regularly updated to show her current condition and inform the staff of the level of assistance she required.

The woman routinely got up several times a night to use the bathroom, often without asking for help. The nursing home could not restrain her from doing this without a physician’s order. However, its staff was alerted by an automated bed alarm every time any resident got out of bed at night.
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iStock monkeybusinessimages.jpgYour Mother or Grandmother is in a nursing home. It was a tough decision but you’re promised that she will be cared for even better than you could do yourself at home. You visit a lot, but you aren’t around to see the corners that are cut to meet corporate goals for profitability.

We know first-hand the pressures on nursing home staff, and the injuries that result from an unnecessary fall.

A shattered hip is a very painful injury. The fix is a big surgery. Very painful postoperative course. It costs a fortune, too. Either the patient pays, or the taxpayers pays with Medicare dollars.

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1421533_pills_drugs sxchu username fsstudio.jpgApproximately 25,000 nursing home residents in Maine suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Although most are treated with antipsychotic medications, a Waterville skilled nursing facility has reportedly eliminated most antipsychotic drugs from its dementia care regimen with great success. Instead, the Lakewood Nursing Home focuses on meeting the emotional needs of Alzheimer’s disease patients in its care.

According to Vicki Dyer, Program Administrator at the Lakewood Nursing Home, dementia patients often become disoriented, frustrated, or frightened by new people and surroundings. Dyer stated a change in some aspect of a patient’s surroundings is much more effective than a pill in about 90 percent of cases. The trick is apparently to figure out what needs to change. Dyer said residents at the 32-bed facility are allowed to wake on their own schedule, congregate in comfortable common rooms, engage with a number of animals that reside at the home, and eat when they please. In addition, employees at the facility must undergo sensitivity training and are reportedly selected based upon their demeanor as well as the way they interact with residents.

Dyer reportedly believes many drugs that are prescribed to dementia disorder patients leave them combative or in a medicated stupor. She said antipsychotic drugs can lower the quality of life for many nursing home residents. Experts apparently agree with Dyer. A 2005 Food and Drug Administration report cautioned against the use of antipsychotics in the elderly due to potential side effects such as heart failure, pneumonia, and death. A 2011 Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services report claims that nearly one-fourth of elderly Americans are prescribed antipsychotic drugs in violation of federal standards.

The United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has purportedly asked nursing homes to reduce the rate at which antipsychotics are prescribed to seniors by at least 15 percent. According to CMS, about one-quarter of nursing home residents in Maine and across the nation were prescribed at least one antipsychotic drug last year. The rate at which Maine dementia patients receive such drugs reportedly varies by facility.

Many Maine families turn to nursing homes when their loved ones are no longer able to care for themselves. Sadly, some skilled nursing facility patients may experience over-medication, broken bones, bedsores, verbal abuse, theft, and other abuse. Additionally, long-term care facility residents may suffer simple neglect. The State of Maine has established special procedures for bringing a negligence or abuse claim against a nursing home or other health care facility. If you believe a friend or family member was the victim of abuse or neglect at the hands of someone tasked with providing their care, you are advised to contact a quality nursing home neglect attorney to discuss your concerns.
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1323680_question_mark sxchu username 7rains.jpgCurrently, the State of Maine has one of the oldest populations in the country. According to a 2013 Alzheimer’s Association report, an estimated 25,000 Maine residents suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and thousands more are directly affected by the dementia disorder through their friends and loved ones. In addition, the rate of death from Alzheimer’s disease in Maine is significantly higher than the national average. In fact, about 38 Maine residents per 100,000 people reportedly die each year as a result of the disease, while an average of 27 per 100,000 Americans across the country succumb to the illness. By 2025, an estimated 7 million people nationwide are expected to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease causes brain cells to malfunction and die. As a result, it can have a dramatic effect on a person’s behavior, memory, and overall thought processes. Caring for Alzheimer’s patients can be costly and emotionally burdensome. In 2012, about 68,000 people in Maine spent approximately 77 million hours caring for someone afflicted with the disorder. As symptoms progress, many families throughout our state find they are unable to safely care for loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. According to Maine Long-Term Care Ombudsman Brenda Gallant, funding for adult day care and in-home elder care services is currently inadequate. Consequently, many families turn to nursing homes and other long-term residential care facilities.

Unfortunately, some skilled nursing facility patients are neglected or abused by the very people who are paid to care for them. Nursing home residents may experience broken bones, over-medication, bedsores, verbal abuse, falls, theft of personal items, and other abuse. Additionally, simple neglect often results when an insufficient number of properly trained staff is employed by a facility. The State of Maine has established a number of special procedures for bringing an abuse or negligence claim against a nursing home or other health care facility. If your friend or family member was the victim of neglect or abuse at a Maine skilled nursing facility, you should contact a quality nursing home neglect attorney to discuss your case.
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bookphoto.jpegThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the average American has a 30 percent chance of being involved in a serious automobile accident in their lifetime. However, few of us are actually prepared for such an event. Many of us do not understand the nuts and bolts of the personal injury legal process until faced with it out of necessity- for ourselves or our loved ones.

For these reasons, the attorneys at Briggs & Wholey have authored a book in an effort to assist accident victims with personal injury claims. Maine Injury Law: A Reference Guide for Accident Victims has been written to help empower victims and their families when they have been affected by any type of serious personal injury, by offering insight into the world of civil personal injury law.

Whether you’re a victim of medical malpractice, a slip and fall, a trucking accident, a birthing injury, nursing home neglect, or in an automobile accident–this book is for you!
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1114174_red_plaster sxchu username barky.jpgAt Waterville’s Oak Grove Center Nursing Home, many of the facility’s 130 employees reportedly work overtime without additional pay. According to facility Administrator Sara Sylvester, the long-term care facility is currently working hard to deal with chronic underfunding by the state. She said the skilled nursing home provides around the clock care for about 90 elderly and disabled Maine residents. Sylvester stated she was forced to cut back on overnight staffing levels as a direct result of budgetary constraints.

The Maine Health Care Association claims 107 skilled nursing facilities across Maine were allegedly underfunded by a total of $122 million in state and federal resources for each of the last five years. At Oak Grove, revenue shortfalls reportedly averaged about $340,000 per year. The underfunding has allegedly resulted because current MaineCare, the state Medicaid program, payments are made to long-term care facilities based on a payment formula that was established in 2005. As a result, nursing homes across the state are purportedly straining under the pressure of rising costs.

In the past, many nursing homes reportedly passed some revenue shortfalls on to patients who pay with private funds. In fact, the average bill for MaineCare patients is purportedly about 40 percent lower than for private-pay residents. According to Sylvester, however, that pool of money is no longer sufficient to make up the difference in revenue. In addition, many skilled nursing facility residents who initially fund their own nursing home expenses often find themselves utilizing MaineCare once the money they saved is spent.

Nursing home standards in Maine purportedly require that skilled nursing facility residents suffer from a number of health problems prior to admission. Unfortunately, this can mean the frailest patients are placed in a situation with too few direct care staff. Because of the purported financial strain that is currently being experienced by nursing homes across the state, the Maine Health Care Association is now advocating in favor of a bill that would increase MaineCare payments by about $6.5 million. In addition, the group would also reportedly like to see additional funding provided to facilities that primarily serve patients who rely on MaineCare and reward skilled nursing homes based on performance.

Nursing homes in Maine are required to employ a sufficient number of direct care workers to meet the needs of all residents based upon the level of care each patient requires. Additionally, minimum nursing staff requirements must also be met. Failure to provide enough well-trained direct care workers is a common cause of skilled nursing facility abuse and neglect in Maine and elsewhere. The State of Maine has established special procedures for bringing an abuse or negligence claim against a nursing home. If you suspect a friend or loved one was the victim of neglect or abuse while residing in a Maine long-term care facility, you should discuss your concerns with a skilled nursing home abuse and neglect attorney.
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183130_dispenser sxchu username brokenarts.jpgThe Maine Center for Disease Control recently issued a norovirus outbreak warning that may affect nursing home residents throughout the state. According to State Epidemiologist Dr. Stephen Sears, the norovirus began being diagnosed in Maine in November. Although those who contracted the gastric disease were initially located primarily in York County, the virus has reportedly spread to other areas of Maine since that time. Dr. Sears stated the virus spreads extremely quickly and symptoms, which normally last several days, are often severe. The norovirus is purportedly spread by ingesting contaminated food or liquids, or through certain contact with someone who has contracted the disease.

Dr. Sears warned that many patients who are infected with norovirus may experience severe dehydration. Unlike other viruses such as influenza, there is currently no vaccine for norovirus. In addition, those afflicted may become ill more than once as a result of contracting different strains of the virus. Dr. Sears said the illness is highly contagious and the risk of outbreak is especially high in nursing homes and other facilities where residents normally live in close proximity to one another. Anyone who has underlying health conditions is advised to contact a physician if they contract the virus.

Communicable diseases such as norovirus and influenza can spread easily in nursing homes. In order to protect Maine seniors who reside in long-term care facilities, direct care workers must take precautionary measures designed to control the spread of disease. For example, sanitation is vital to the health of skilled nursing facility patients in our state and throughout the nation. Too often, nursing home caregivers who are pressed for time choose to cut corners. Many reportedly fail to use simple sanitation techniques such as washing their hands between residents. This small omission constitutes negligence on the part of direct care workers. If your elderly or disabled loved one died from a preventable disease that he or she contracted due to nursing home worker negligence, you should contact an experienced nursing home neglect lawyer to discuss your case.
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file000921513512.jpgThe Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently addressed the subject of bedrail safety. In part, this investigation was initiated by the tireless efforts of one woman, after her mother tragically died after becoming entrapped within the bedrails of her bed in a nursing home facility. Until now, the actual number of deaths from bedrails have not elicited much response from policy makers. However, public pressure, a changing age demographic, and the number of reported injuries by the CPSC just may. Approximately 37,000 people were treated in hospitals between 2003-2011 for injuries sustained from bedrails. Additionally, between January 2003 and September 2012, 155 fatalities have been attributed to bedrails.

Upon case investigation, the CPSC identified potential bedrail hazards. Ranked as to frequency of occurrence, they are entrapment, falls, miscellaneous incidents, and structural integrity. Rail entrapment occurs in over 90 percent of these accidental deaths.

The majority of these injuries, 61 percent, actually occurred in home care settings according to the study, and over a quarter of the injuries happened in nursing home or assisted living facilities.
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1342515_flag sxchu username linder6580.jpgA study recently conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the Veterans Affairs (VA) Pittsburgh Medical center reportedly found that antipsychotic drugs are commonly used to treat veterans who reside at VA Community Living Centers in Maine and throughout the nation. The study claims approximately one in four VA nursing facility residents aged 65 and above received an antipsychotic medication between January 2004 and June 2005. According to study authors, about 40 percent of those patients received an off-label prescription. This means the patient had no documented Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved reason for receiving an antipsychotic drug.

The University of Pittsburgh study allegedly found that the rate of off-label antipsychotic use in VA skilled nursing facilities is similar to that in non-VA long-term care facilities. Study authors reported that dementia patients were most likely to receive an off-label prescription for an antipsychotic pharmaceutical. In fact, researchers claim that about 66 percent of the veterans profiled in the study who suffered from a dementia disorder were prescribed an antipsychotic drug. Veterans who exhibited aggressive behavior were reportedly three times more likely to receive such a drug. Additionally, VA nursing home residents who were on other medications such as antidepressants were allegedly more likely to receive an antipsychotic.

The results of the study are troubling because antipsychotic pharmaceuticals are allegedly associated with an increased death rate in elderly dementia patients. In 2005, the FDA issued a warning against using such medications in seniors suffering from a dementia disorder. Because much of the data analyzed was collected prior to the FDA’s warning, it is unclear whether off-label antipsychotic use currently continues at the same rate in VA facilities. The VA is allegedly attempting to address the use of antipsychotics in agency nursing homes located throughout the country.

Many citizens in Maine turn to skilled nursing or assisted living facilities when loved ones are no longer able to care for themselves. Sadly, some nursing home residents are abused or neglected by the very people tasked with providing their care. Long-term care facility patients may experience over-medication, broken bones, bedsores, verbal abuse, theft, and other abuse. In addition, simple neglect due to insufficient or poorly trained staff happens in nursing homes all too frequently. The State of Maine has established special procedures for bringing a negligence or abuse claim against a skilled nursing or other health care facility. If you believe a friend or family member was the victim of neglect or abuse while residing in a long term care facility, you should contact a skilled nursing home neglect lawyer to discuss your concerns.
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According to Dr. Aimee Garcia, President of the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) “over 2.5 million US residents develop pressure ulcers every year. There are more patients who develop pressure ulcers than who develop cancer (annually). The impact of pressure ulcers on the patient, the providers who try to prevent these wounds, and the payers for health care has been underestimated for years.” Certainly, increased awareness about pressure ulcers can help bring about change.

Pressure or decubitus ulcers, commonly referred to as bedsores, are caused when various forms of friction or weight bearing pressure, sustained over a period of time, limit adequate amounts of blood flow to skin tissue causing it to die and a wound or ulcer to form. Therefore, anyone with limited mobility may be susceptible to developing these painful wounds. Individuals with compromised vascular systems or reduced cognizance are at further risk, as are those with various skin conditions due to frailty, nutritional health and weight, incontinence, or physical derma conditions of excessive moisture or dryness.

Typically, bedsores develop over bony prominences or pressure points with surfaces such as the head, hips, elbows, shoulders, buttocks, hips, legs, and feet. As the epidermis deteriorates open wounds can form causing further tissue damage and creating serious health risks for the patient.
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