Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

According to a recent report released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), almost 16 percent of residents at long-term nursing homes are being treated with antipsychotic medications. While down from 24 percent in 2011, the CMS report and many doctors question the efficacy and necessity of these powerful mind-altering medications. According to the report, decreases in antipsychotic usage were seen across all fifty states, with New York seeing one of the smallest reductions.

antipsyhotic-and-elderlyThe majority of elderly residents receiving the antipsychotic medicine are diagnosed with dementia. Antipsychotic drugs, such as Abilify, Seroquel, Risperdal, and Zyprexa, have not been proven to treat dementia, nor have these drugs been shown to reduce the symptoms of dementia. In some instances, antipsychotic medication can also cause serious side effects for the senior citizens who have been prescribed these drugs. In addition to a higher rate of death, antipsychotic drugs also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and slip and fall accidents. Consequently, medical associations and patient advocacy groups believe the number of dementia patients taking antipsychotics should be closer to zero. Continue reading

wallet-300x225The Attorney General’s Office in New York announced the indictment of two Brooklyn men for running a massive scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid recipients from healthcare clinics in the Bronx and Manhattan. According to the Attorney General, Tea Kaganovich and Ramazi Mitiashvili, operated three separate companies, Sophisticated Imaging, Inc., East Coast Diagnosists and East West Management, for the sole purpose of defrauding the federal health care system meant to care for the poor and elderly. The Brooklyn men apparently defrauded the government in the amount of $8 million dollars, often to the harm of actual New York residents who looked to the companies to treat their healthcare problems.

The clinics were located at 2423 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in Manhattan and 2781 Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Responding to the charges, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “Medicaid is meant to be a healthcare safety net for New Yorkers, not a bank account for criminals.” Continue reading

A new report by Time Magazine shines a harsh light on the hospice care industry in America – reporting that 21 percent of hospices, accounting for more than 84,000 patients, failed to provide critical care to patients in 2015.  The report, which includes vivid and heartbreaking stories, points towards a largely unregulated industry that received almost $16 billion in federal Medicare dollars last year.

sick-man-nursing-home-300x200Hospice is provided to Medicaid patients if they are expected to pass away within six months. Starting in the 1970s, hospice care focuses on relieving the symptoms of a patient and providing “comfort care.” The use of hospice care has become increasingly popular in the last couple decades.  According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, enrollment in hospice care has more than doubled since 2000.

While most Americans think of hospice as a location, the reality is that most Americans utilize hospice care so they can pass away in their own home. With 86 percent of Americans saying they want to die at home, the trend is unlikely to reverse anytime soon, either.

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sick-man-nursing-home-300x200In August of 2016, the New York State Veteran’s Home in Montrose, New York had a horrific rhinovirus outbreak. At one point, the facility in Westchester had one-out-of-every-four residents sick with the virus. Altogether, there were 58 documented cases of rhinovirus at the 221-bed retirement home for veterans. Sadly, four of the elderly residents with rhinovirus passed away.

Speaking to ABC News 7, Dr. Dennis Nash of the CUNY School of Public Health said that “If so many are affected by the same infectious disease, it does point to infection control issues. And that’s something that the state will want to be looking at right away.” At the time, the New York Department of Health told ABC News that they were investigating the outbreak and whether the nursing home facility had implemented sufficient infection prevention and control measures.

However, it does not appear that the New York Department of Health investigation went very far. The Department of Health provides a “profile” for each assisted living facility or retirement home in the Empire State. According to its profile on the New York State Veterans Home at Montrose, the nursing home facility had zero citations related to “actual harm or immediate jeopardy.” Continue reading

A new report details the chronic deficiencies in nursing home care and its effect on the elderly and disabled Americans that live in these facilities. The report, published by the Long Term Care Community Coalition, details nursing home facilities that are woefully understaffed and failing to meet the needs of its residents. Because nursing homes receive funds by Medicare and Medicaid, they are largely regulated by the government. The report, consequently, mostly blames bureaucratic incompetence and under-funding for its failure to effectively monitor these facilities.

According to the report, the breadth and consequences of the government’s failure to take care of our elderly and disabled are vast. As the so-called “Baby Boomers” enter into their twilight years, an estimated 40 percent of Americans will at some point spend time in a nursing home that is subject to federal oversight.

A substantial portion of the problem is blamed on the so-called “yo-yo” phenomenon. This occurs when a nursing home or other assisted living facility is found to be out of compliance, but then only corrects the problem temporarily. In an effort to fix the problem, The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), created the Special Focus Facility Program (SFF) which was meant to monitor facilities that have racked up multiple compliance violations. Because of under-staffing and insufficient funding and a requirement that states help fix the problem, the program has failed to fix the problem. Continue reading

A lawsuit in New York claims that a nursing home’s residents were forced to lie in their own feces and urine for extended periods of time. The class action suit filed in Syracuse, New York claimed that potentially hundreds or thousands of patients may have been affected by the nursing home, James Square Health and Rehabilitation Centre. Unfortunately, this is just another nail in the coffin at James Square, which has a long history of poor patient care.

IV-DRIP-159x300The lawsuit alleges that the nursing home and assisted living facility is unsafe and understaffed. The report points to the death of Theresa A. Farrugio who died at the facility in 2015. According to the lawsuit, after Farrugio fell down the facility’s employees then put her back in her chair and gave her a sedative without taking any of her vitals. She was “left to fend for herself,” according to the lawsuit. When her son arrived the next day, he took her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with “respiratory failure, pneumonia, acute renal failure and a urinary tract infection.” She died at the hospital only days later from problems that could have been prevented if the nursing home had provided her with adequate care. Continue reading

A recent federal and state report excoriated New York’s handling of complaints against nursing homes and nurses in the state.

An audit by the New York found that the state had failed to properly investigate complaints against nurses. For the cases that are deemed “priority 1” – the most serious which usually involve allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse – New York took an average of 228 days to investigate. State law re

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quires these investigations to conclude within 10 days of the complaint. In one horrific case, New York failed to sanction, or otherwise discipline a nurse in any way, after she administered an overdose of insulin that nearly killed a patient. In another case, it took New York almost a year-and-a-half to revoke the nursing license from a Bronx nurse who sexually assaulted a patient.

New York performs even worse when factoring in lower-priority complaints against medical care professionals. With over 8,000 complaints lodged between April 2014 and April 2017, more than 2,000 were not performed within the required 180-day time period.

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The Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report stating that at least one in four instances of elder abuse or neglect are not reported. While horrific in scope, the results are not entirely surprising – other, smaller samples have found that 15 to 20 percent of elder abuse cases were not reported to the proper authorities or government agencies. The most recent study, released by the HHS Inspector General, based its findings on a large sampling of cases spanning 33 states. The study, which pegged the underreporting rate at exactly 28 percent, was released with a demand that Medicare take “corrective action right away.”

Despite mandatory reporting laws by both the federal government virtually all states, the rathelpe of under-reporting remains stubbornly high. On the federal level, nursing homes are required to report any incidents involving a suspected crime immediately and any other case of suspected elder abuse within 24 hours. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) can fine nursing homes up to $300,000 for failing to comply with the law. While such a strict timeline and the possibility of hefty fines would typically discourage non-compliance, the HHS report shows that the law requiring reporting of any elder abuse – whether physical, financial, sexual or otherwise – is mostly unenforced by CMS.
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As part of President Trump’s promise to roll-back federal regulations, the Trump administration has announced its intention to scrap a federal rule prohibiting nursing homes from requiring their residents to pursue legal claims through arbitration.

In the simplest terms, arbitration is a catch-all term for a dispute-resolution that, while legally binding, does not utilize the court system. The practice has exploded in popularity in recent decades – especially among larger corporations and nursing homes. These entities prefer arbitration because the costs are generally lower, the dispute resolution process moves much faster than the courts, and parties generally do not have a right to appeal thus providing both parties some finality to their dispwalking-out-300x225ute. Opponents of arbitration say the extra-judicial process favors corporate interests and curtails the rights of victims – from limiting discovery to removing the opportunity to appeal. Further, arbitration also removes the right for a person to have their case heard before a jury, and instead substitutes a so-called “neutral arbitrator.”
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A group home for the disabled, run by the State of New York, in Rome, N.Y. is facing calls for a federal investigation after an explosive report was leaked by the Associated Press detailing a resident who, on two separate occasions, was so severely neglected that he became infested with maggots. The resident, Steven Wenger, has been unable to walk, speak or breathe without a ventilator since a tragic car accident 26 years ago. According to the AP, both infestations were found in and around Wenger’s ventilator.

resident-left-in-empty-hallNew York State officials confirmed that the infestations had been caused by neglect. The officials also confirmed that the caregivers were not disciplined in any way, but that the state had “increased training.” In New York, which is responsible for providing care to over 1 million disabled people, the responsibility for neglect probes are overseen by the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (“Justice Center”) who declined to provide any data or information about the particular case. Continue reading

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