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Death lawsuit could impact assisted living standards

Death lawsuit could impact assisted living standards

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm

December 14, 2014

Delores Wiersum froze to death after she was locked outside her assisted living home in Appleton, Wisconsin, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

The report states that “Wiersum died in January 2013 after wandering out of The Heritage shortly after midnight. She wore only pajamas and a light sweater in the 15-degree temperature. She had recently suffered a mini-stroke.”

The report states further that “A police investigation revealed that while staff recorded Wiersum as being asleep in her bed at 2 a.m., video surveillance footage showed the woman walking out the rear exit door at about 12:06 a.m. She tried to get back inside for about 30 minutes before giving up and walking away. She fell at least five times and received multiple broken bones and cuts during the four-hour period before police found her about a mile away from the facility.”

The Press-Gazette reports that the facility’s company, ThedaCare, has denied any wrongdoing.

The Press-Gazette reports that Wiersum fell five times as she tried to get back into the facility. Staff mistakes led to at least 24 deaths over a two-year period in Wisconsin assisted living facilities, according to the paper.

The Press-Gazette recently published a related report entitled “Senior care a ‘ticking time bomb’.”

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

Another Twin Cities care provider caught stealing potent narcotic patch

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm

December 14, 2014

Caretakers are supposed to be there to easy your loved one’s pain, not steal that relief from them. But that’s what several recent cases from Minnesota are showing: caretakers being caught using painkillers intended for patients and nursing home residents.

Most recently, a staff member at Birchwood Arbors assisted living in Forest Lake stole a Fentanyl patch from one patient and is suspected to have stolen medication from two others, according to the Star-Tribune.

And that’s the least grotesque of the cases in question.

Another involved a northwestern Minnesota nursing home nurse peeling painkilling patches off the backs of cognitively challenged patients, then sticking the patches to his tongue. He would then return the patches to the patients’ bodies, according to the Star-Tribune.

The Star-Tribune describes Fentanyl as “a potent narcotic analgesic used to supplement general anesthesia or to treat long-term or chronic pain requiring continuous relief. The opium-based medication is seldom used outside of hospitals because it is powerful and fast acting. It’s considered 80 times stronger than morphine and highly addictive.”

In other words, it’s a drug that exists only for the people who really need it.

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

Old And Overmedicated: The Real Drug Problem In Nursing Homes

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm

December 14, 2014

It’s no secret that overmedication runs rampant in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, but until a recent NPR report, it wasn’t entirely clear how rampant.

The numbers may surprise you.

Almost 300,000 nursing home residents are currently receiving antipsychotic drugs, according to NPR. Many need them to treat diseases like Alzheimer’s. But many don’t, and that’s the scary part.

NPR found examples of residents being treated illegally with anti-psychotic drugs for “the convenience of staff.” NRP reports that is called “chemical restraint” and is illegal.

One of the patient’s daughters said her mother was often “lost” and/or “out of her skin,” on the drugs.

USC pharmacy professor Bradley Williams explained the dangers of treating with antipsychotics. “They blunt behaviors,” he told NPR. “They can cause sedation. It increases their risk for falls. If you want to get to the very basic bottom line, why should someone pay for something that’s not needed?”

Another patient was being treated with Risperdal and Haldol, which NPR described as “powerful antipsychotics.” After she died, her family and others filed a joint lawsuit. The nursing home settled and was forced to change its practices.

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

TOPICS:   Medication Errors

New Mexico AG sues nursing home chain over care, staffing issues

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm

December 14, 2014

A new lawsuit filed by the New Mexico attorney general accuses seven nursing homes for failing to have adequate staffing to treat patients properly. Attorney General Gary King alleges that low staffing levels made it mathematically impossible for the care facilities to, in fact, provide care, according to McKnight’s.

McKnight’s reports that if the lawsuit is successful, other states could file similar suits. The facilities targeted are staffed a levels that are below average. The suit asserts that the facilities, which are operated by Preferred Care Partners Management Group, didn’t have enough aides to help residents unable to eat or drink on their own. The suit also says managers were aware that aides did not have time to properly assist in resident bathing practices.

Preferred Care Partners is based in Plano, Texas, and has facilities spread across ten states. The group owns facilities in the southwest, southeast and Midwest regions. The suit includes testimonies from staff witnesses, according to McKnight’s.

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

TOPICS:   Neglect

Falls are top reason for lawsuits against skilled nursing facilities, report states

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm

November 17, 2014

Patient falls, once again, are the most common cause of winning claims in lawsuits against nursing homes, according to a recently released insurance company report and McKnights.com.

Almost 42 percent of professional liability claims against facilities insured by CAN regarded falls in those facilities, according to McKnights. The next closest reason for claims came from pressure ulcers, which lagged way behind at 17.5 percent.

McKnights.com reports that the most common types of falls are falls from bed, which came in at 32.4 percent. Falls in the bathroom are also widespread, at 18 percent, the study said.

To read more about this study, click here.

McKnights.com reports that falls are also the top reason for claims at assisted living and continuing care facilities as well. The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

Nurses getting wrist slaps for incompetence, drug use

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm

November 17, 2014

The state of New York has proved slow, inadequate and both when it comes to disciplining nurses that put long-term care patients in harm’s way, and in doing so, emphasizes a nonchalance towards nursing home safety that has advocates up in arms.

The New York Post reports that the state of New York failed for a long time to act against nurses found to be high on drugs while caring for patients, before giving said nurses slaps on the wrist.

Kathy Dzus was high on cocaine while caring for patients at Good Samaritan Hospital on Long Island, New York, but received just a light fine.

The same went for Daniel McCarthy, who was high on painkillers while caring for patients, according to the Post. Both offenders worked at the same hospital.

Fifty New York City area nurses were disciplined by the state this year, the Post reports, proving criminal care can occur anywhere, at any time.

And even in those cases, New York is often slow to act.

Ted Hirsch, a registered nurse, pleaded guilty to attempted possession of child pornography in 2011. The New York State Board of Regents didn’t discipline him until three years later, the Post learned.

These are just a few examples of a long line of nurse misconduct that the state often turns a blind eye towards.

To read more about this story, click here.

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

TOPICS:   Medication Errors

Nursing home manager accused of stealing $460K from residents

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm

November 7, 2014

A former nursing home financial manager was charged earlier this month on two felony counts of embezzlement after allegedly embezzling $460,000 from residents over a three year period, according to multiple news outlets.

Tina Marie Binkley is accused of embezzling money from 136 residents of Boulevard Health Center in Rochester Hills, Michigan, after an accountant found “several significant points of financial concern,” in the home’s financial records.

Binkley allegedly took advantage of her authorization to access and manage the home’s finances. She is accused of transferring patient overpayments to separate accounts and withdrawing the funds for personal use, Macomb Daily reported.

She faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to three times the amount of money lost by residents, according to the Macomb Daily.

“Families deserved to know their loved ones in nursing homes are being cared for, not being exploited for personal financial gain,” Michigan Attorney General Schuette told the Macomb Daily. “Criminals attempting to victimize our greatest generation to line their own pockets will be brought to justice.”

Binkley was fired in April 2013, according to the Consumerist.

Binkley is also accused of bringing others into her scheme.

Click on the following link to learn more about this story: WXYZ ABC News.

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

Ebola issues in America’s nursing homes

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm

November 5, 2014

The emergence of Ebola in the United States over the past few weeks has resulted in widespread caution across the medical field, and the resulting reactions range from feelings of stigmatization to heights of hysteria.

Two incidents on the East Coast this week highlight the pros and cons of cautionary strategies as medical officials continue to try and stop the spread of Ebola.

In Rhode Island, a nursing home worker with flu-like symptoms was rushed to the hospital. The worker had recently visited Nigeria, where cases of Ebola have been reported, but not widely dispersed (compared to in nearby countries such as Liberia and Sierra Lione). The woman in question works at Cherry Hill Manor nursing home. It was determined that she was not infected with Ebola shortly upon her arrival at the hospital.

“In an abundance of caution on our end, we treate dit that way,” Johnston Fire Chief Timothy McLaughlin told WPRI News. “We’ve been working on these protocols for a while. When we got here, we immediately suited up, complete head to toe, as put forth by the CDC.”

“She seemed to have all the symptoms,” he said.

Oretha Bestman-Yates, a nursing home worker in Staten Island, New York, and a native Liberian, does not have any symptoms of Ebola. And yet, she has not been allowed to return to work even after completing a 21-day quarantine following a trip back to Liberia this summer, according to McKnights.com.

Bestman-Yates said she is one of the several thousands Liberians in New York City that are being told not to report to work in hospitals and nursing homes, under assumptions that they are infected alone.

Liberia is one of the west African nations most severely afflicted with the disease.

Bestman-Yates feels west Africans working in the U.S medical field are being stigmatized. When allowed to work, they are being told not to touch patients, according to McKnights.com.

“People try to avoid you, pull away from you,” Best-Yates told IRIN, a humanitarian news and analysis website. “I’ve had people tell me “We brought Ebola to the United States.’ Parents are telling their children to stay away from our children at school.”

IRIN asserts that stigma is on the increase due in part to a lack of knowledge about the geography of West Africa.

“There is not a lot of knowledge in the US about Africa – let alone West Africa,” activist Bobby Digi told IRIN. “They are painting the whole area with a very broad brush.”

That brush is resulting in various colors of caution, being exercised across the country.

To read more about Ebola issues relating to America’s nursing homes, check out the following resources:

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

TOPICS:   News, Sepis / Infection

Hidden camera reveals nursing home aides abusing Alzheimer’s patient

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm

November 4, 2014

The man, a vulnerable residents of a nursing home, would repeatedly show phantom bruises on his body that his condition didn’t allow him to explain. Worried and feeling helpless, his son installed security cameras to monitor his father’s room.

Mystery solved. Police charged care staff at the Palm Gardens Nursing Home — Yashika Jones and Rose Blaise — with battery of an elderly person after the cameras showed them hitting the patient, WFLA-TV reported.

“I did tell him that, I am so sorry for what he had to endure here,” the man’s son, Dale Wilson, told WFLA-TV. “I said I had no idea what was happening to you. I said, ‘I know there were people in here being mean to you. They can’t be mean to you anymore. They’re gone, I promise.’”

“This egregious behavior from these two who are supposed to be caring for our infirm is absolutely sickening,” Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird told WFLA-TV. The abusive acts are despicable. If you want to learn more details about this case, click here.

Six employees are under investigation, according to the report, after the videos found the man being physically and mentally abused on several occasions last month. This did not prove to be a one time incident, instead a continuous cycle of bullying with little consequence. Until now.

Medicare’s annual inspection of the Palm Garden Nursing Home resulted in repeated citations for the facility’s failure to “provide care by qualified persons according to each resident’s written plan of care.”

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

TOPICS:   Physical Abuse

Nursing home rating system gets big fixes

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm

November 4, 2014

A sudden and suspicious leap in the amount of nursing homes earning high rankings has led the federal government to announce changes to the five-star ranking system, to be implemented early next year, according to HT Health.

One significant change to the system will allow a electronic reporting system to verify payroll and patient information submitted by nursing homes themselves. This nationwide auditing program will strive to ensure reported information is accurate. That information, now, will also include statistics on residents administered anti-psychotic drugs, HT Health reported.

“We are focused on using as many tools as are available to promote quality improvement and better outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries,” said Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Formerly, hand-written submission forms were rarely audited, according to HT Health.

More than 15,000 nursing homes across the country are rated using the current system, which directs consumers based on a variety of factors including quality of care. The government said the expanded system will make rankings more accurate while also offering consumers more information into formerly unreleased statistics like staff turnover.

This after nursing homes nationwide seemed to realize that ranking high on the rating system was a formula just needed to be learned.

The number of homes that held four or five-star rankings almost doubled in four years, from 36 percent in 2009 to 65 percent in 2013, HT Health reported.

Click here to read more about this story.

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.