Articles Posted in Neglect

All nursing homes that receive more than $10,000 are required by federal law to report any suspicion of crimes against their elderly residents. While there have been reporting problems, the Department of Health and Human Services has vowed to increase enforcement of these federal regulations.

The mandatory reporting requirement, originally a part of the Affordable Care Act, more colloquially known as Obamacare, has two main provisions – both of which carry heftier fines as of November 28, 2017. A violation of these laws can result in a fine of up to $221,000. If the failure to report the suspected crime results in more harm to the resident, the fine increases to $331,000. The assisted living facility will also be fined for retaliating against any employee or resident that reports a suspected crime. The maximum fine allowable for a retaliatory measure is $221,000. 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 scathing report by the Office of Inspector General shows that 25 percent of nursing home abuse cases go unreported. Of these unreported cases, 80 percent involved an allegation of sexual abuse or rape of an elderly person. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has promised to do more to identify abuse and neglect, and step up its enforcement whenever it occurs.

missing-patient-300x196According to CBS, this horrific problem has two main causes. First, CMS lacks the procedures and protocols necessary to ensure nursing homes are reporting abuse. Second, in the rare case that a nursing home does run afoul of the law – the fines are so insignificantly small that its cheaper for businesses to just pay the fine, rather than increase staff or the quality of their retirement home. Continue reading

A report by Mobilization for Justice has shined a light on how the popular use of “day passes” at nursing home facilities have been used to confine their elderly residents and limit their freedom. Originally intended to keep track of their elderly residents, most nursing homes required patients to attain a “day pass” whenever they would like to leave the facility. According to critics, this can leave elderly residents feeling like confined prisoners– only being allowed to leave at the discretion of their nursing homes.

The “day passelderly-couple-300x264” policy, while common in most nursing homes, also varies significantly in its implementation. Some nursing homes may restrict hours that their residents can leave the facility, others may issue unclear guidelines for when a day pass may be approved, or apply them arbitrarily to different residents. According to the Mobilization for Justice, other assisted living facilities require residents to provide detailed information about their whereabouts, or may require the resident to be joined by an escort. Some even force residents to be “cleared” by a physician to ensure they are in a clear, capable state of mind to leave the nursing home. 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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Governor Andrew Cuomo has taken a stand against elder abuse by signing a new law that requires state agencies to develop guidelines to help better identify elder abuse. According to Gov. Cuomo, the new guidelines will be proactive by establishing guidelines to help identify cases of elder abuse, self-neglect and maltreatment and comprehensive by following-up with any at-risk senior citizens. Further, these guidelines will be shared not only with state agencies, but also with healthcare providers who are often in the best position to identify potential elder abuse.

This new law hopes to increase the reporting rate by educating and empowering neutral third-parties that frequently interact with senior citizens in the state – including government agencies, healthcare providers and even banks. According to Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, sponsor elderly-woman-on-phone-300x200of the bill, involving the healthcare industry will be pivotal in countering “one of the most under-reported crimes” in the nation. Because the doctor-patient relationship generally involves an implicit trust and regular interactions (especially for elderly citizens), Lupardo notes that healthcare providers are in the best position to assess and monitor potential elder abuse. Continue reading

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

With toothless regulations and ineffective oversight, many nursing homes are still failing the neediest patients. With its budget for overseeing nursing homes slashed in half, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has failed to identify failing nursing homes and keep them accountable. As a consequence, some nursing homes are choosing to accept the infrequent fines instead of changing their behavior.

helpCMS is responsible for overseeing all nursing homes that receive benefits from these federal entitlement programs. CMS routinely inspects nursing homes for any violations, if a violation is found, then CMS has two options. First, CMS can put the facility on “special focus” status – reserved for the worst offenders. A nursing home with this designation would be routinely inspected more often and, supposedly, would be punished more severely for any violations. Unfortunately, federal budget cuts have blunted the amount of nursing homes that can be put under “special focus.” Since 2012, the budget for inspecting facilities with this designation has dropped by half. Consequently, despite regulators identifying 435 facilities that warranted this designation, only 88 nursing homes were actually put on the watchlist. Further, once a Continue reading

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