On the morning of September 12, 2009, a man (identified only as “Plaintiff”) went missing from Arms Acres, a rehabilitation center for alcoholics. The Plaintiff, in addition to being an alcoholic, also suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to the Court’s decision. Shortly before going missing the Plaintiff became “extremely disoriented, began having hallucinations” and attempted to leave the facility. The Plaintiff apparently succeeded on leaving the facility the next morning – on September 12. Sadly, on October 18, 2009 the Plaintiff’s body was discovered. Continue reading
On May 10, 2011, a resident (described only as “Resident X”) in the dementia/Alzheimer’s unit at Sprain Brook Manor Nursing Home became agitated, falsely believing that the television in his room had been stolen or was otherwise missing. The resident, according to the Plaintiff, had a “known history of aggression.” The nurse in the unit proceeded to take Resident X to his room and show him that his television was, in fact, still in his room. According to the Plaintiff, this was “in a manner not appropriate for dealing with an agitated Alzheimer’s patient.” As Resident X became further enraged, another nursing home resident E. Benisatto stood up to intervene when Resident X pushed her down. Benisatto was transferred to the hospital where she was treated for a hip fracture and then subsequently returned to Sprain Brook Manor. Almost a month later, on June 1, 2011, Benisatto was readmitted to the hospital for “failing to thrive” – a diagnosis that is the result of several conditions, including malnutrition, bedsores and gangrene. Sadly, Benisatto passed away only one week later. Continue reading
On February 27, 2008, a nursing home resident (whose name is not listed) at Sunrise Manor Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation passed away. The nursing home resident had only been at the center since February 19 – a mere 8 days. The cause of death was listed as septic shock – a condition where an infection is so serious that the body’s organs shut down. The nursing home resident’s family (Henry) proceeded to sue Sunrise Manor Center to recover damages based on the liability theories of: medical malpractice, wrongful death, violation of the Public Health Law, and negligent hiring and retention. Sunrise Manor petitioned the court to dismiss all allegations against it. On February 1, 2017, the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department issued its ruling.
On the liability theory based on medical malpractice and wrongful death, Sunrise Manor must prove that either (1) there was no departure from “accepted medical practice”, or (2) if there was a departure, that the departure did not cause the resident’s death. Sunrise Manor provided expert testimony that there was no departure from the accepted standard of care. The resident’s family offered rebuttal expert testimony opining that the accepted standard of care was deviated by (1) failing to inform the resident’s physician of a high fever, and that (2) the failure to inform the physician led to the resident’s untimely death. The Court decided that there was a “triable issue of fact” – meaning that a jury (and not the judge) would decide whether Sunrise Manor had committed medical malpractice and therefore enabling the family to recover damages on the legal theory of “wrongful death.” Continue reading
Andrew Hatcher, 28, of Brooklyn, New York, has been charged with endangering the welfare of two developmentally disabled residents under his care at Centerreach Intermediate Care Facility. Hatcher has been charged with two counts of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, a class E Felony, stemming from an incident where he tied up a resident.
According to Attorney General Schneiderman, Hatcher, knowing that he was the only caregiver on the night shift responsible for two severely physically impaired and intellectually disabled residents, “failed to care for them and failed to perform required 15-minute bed checks to ensure their safety.”
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has dropped its appeal of a court ruling blocking its prohibition on pre-dispute arbitration clauses, thus rolling back an Obama-era regulation which sought to ban pre-dispute arbitration agreements for nursing home residents. Arbitration clauses force the persons in a contract (in this instance, the nursing home and its residents) from seeking relief from the courts. Instead, an arbitration clause requires that both parties submit to an “arbitration agency” – which are generally more corporate-friendly, usually offer lower monetary awards, and most importantly limit the right of a person to appeal an arbitration decision.
Arbitration agreements often prevent families, who believe that their loved ones have been mistreated or received poor care, from seeking legal remedies in the court system. In addition, nursing home residents are generally in a weakened negotiating position and lack full knowledge of the implication arbitration agreements. Thus, they generally only find out at a later point in time that they have signed away their rights.
A former employee of Northeast Center for Special Care (NCSP) in Lake Katrine was convicted of sexually abusing six residents of the facility who were admitted for traumatic brain injuries.
NCSP is a facility that provides rehabilitation and care for those suffering traumatic brain injuries caused by stroke, motor vehicle accidents, falls and other dire events. Jacky Stanley was employed as a “Neighborhood Counselor”, responsible for assisting residents in getting accustomed to the facility. His responsibilities included managing residents social environment and ensuring residents participated in their required programs. Continue reading
Pressure ulcers, commonly referred to as “bed sores”, are a growing problem among elderly and immobile patients, according to a study by the University of Michigan. According to the study, the amount of pressure ulcers may be up to ten times as common as the Medicare program reports.
The different rates proffered by Medicare and the University of Michigan study derive from the different methods used to detect pressure ulcers. Medicare uses billing data – which is sourced from an administrative team interpreting notes on medical records left by doctors and nurses. Because hospitals receive financial penalties for a higher number of pressure ulcers, there is an incentive for hospital administrations to downplay the number of sores within their hospitals.
The University of Michigan study, however, compared the data given by the hospital administration to “surveillance data” – basically, monitoring the skin assessments given by nurses at hospitals. This data showed that pressure ulcers were up to 10 times more common than the “administrative data” offered by Medicare suggests. According to Jennifer Meddings, M.D., M.Sc. and assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, this information shows the need for a standardized approach to diagnosing bedsores – so the data provided is both accurate and uniform across hospitals.
According to a report by the Minnesota Department of Health, Kenneth Allers suffered seizures for over 11 hours while a nurse (only identified in the report as “Alleged Perpetrator”) ignored him. Allers died the next day.
The report states that on the morning of August 31, 2016 Allers had two seizures, approximately one-and-a-half hours apart. According to the report, Allers was unresponsive but breathing after the seizure and showed visible signs of pain including “grimacing and restlessness.” Despite a request for pain medication by the staff, the nurse did not administer any pain medication or alert a physician. After a third (and the report states “subsequent seizures”), Allers bit his tongue causing swelling and “extensive oral trauma.” Again, the nurse did not administer any pain medication or notify a physician despite staff requests. This cycle continued and Allers proceeded to have seven seizures over an 11 hour time period, during which the nurse did not administer any pain medication, alert any staff or provide any other medical assistance to Allers. After enduring seven seizures, the nursing staff changed and Allers was given pain medication by a different nurse.
Three nursing home employees in Nassau County have been arrested in connection with the death of nursing home resident at A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility. Registered nurses, Sijimole Reji and Annieamma Augustine and certified nurse aide, Martine Morland were charged with neglect and endangerment of a resident. The patient relied on a mechanical ventilator to breathe and was completely dependent on the facility’s staff.
On December 20, 2015, the wheelchair bound resident became disconnected from her ventilator, setting off audio and visual alarms to alert staff of a life-threatening situation. The three employees were at the nursing station when the alarms sounded, however they did not immediately respond. Staff ignored the resident’s alarm for over nine minutes before they attempted to provide assistance to the patient. The resident was found unresponsive and unconscious; she was then transferred to Nassau University Medical Center, where she died the next day. Continue reading
On October 18, 2016, six individuals were arrested in New York for exploiting the financial vulnerability of nursing home residents; defendants are from Bronx, New York, Queens and Suffolk Counties. The five New York City defendants stole personal identity information from residents in order to secure cash or credit they were not entitled to; and the defendant from Suffolk County stole a necklace from a 95 year old female resident. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman stated it is “reprehensible for caregivers to steal from defenseless residents in order to line their own pockets.” He continued to say his office will not tolerate financial exploitation and will vigilantly work to ensure nursing home resident’s personal and financial information is protected. The six cases are summarized below:
- Diana English, Director of Social Services at Far Rockaway Nursing Home in Queens – Allegedly removed an elderly resident from the home and took him to his bank to withdraw money without the required medical clearance on June 24, 2015. The resident withdrew $500 from his account and gave it to the director; this occurred several times. The resident passed away the following month; English accessed his account with his PIN number and stole $1,200 from his account. The resident suffered from an anxiety disorder, physical issues due to hip replacement surgery, short and long term memory deficits , cognitive deficits and was unable to care for himself. She was arraigned in New York City Criminal Court – Queens County and is being charged with Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.
- Sandra Rivera-Tapia, Director of Social Work at Holliswood Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Queens – Allegedly obtained a resident’s ATM card and PIN number and stole $7,418 from the account. The money was acquired by making several cash withdrawals from various ATM’s in her neighborhood and throughout New York City, as well as store purchases on the card. The resident suffered from schizoaffective disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, sublaxation of the right hip, chronic kidney disease, diabetes and hypertension and was unable to care for himself. She was arraigned in New York City Criminal Court – Queens county and charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, and Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information in the Third Degree.