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 June 17, 2013, a patient at Barnabas Nursing Home passed away from complications arising from her pressure ulcers. Her family has sued the nursing home and hospital and believes that their family member received negligent treatment and that the hospital and nursing home should be held responsible for her death. 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
New York Nursing Homes Cannot Tell Patients They Only Provide “Short-Term” Service
According to the New York Department of Health, a growing number of New York nursing homes are illegally telling potential patients that their facility only provides short-term care. Under New York law, this is illegal – there is no such thing as a “short-term” nursing home. In order to be licensed by the state, the facility must provide both short-term and long-term skilled nursing care. Further, it is illegal to discriminate against residents that may have long-term needs.
New York Nursing Homes Cannot Discriminate on the Basis of Payment
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.
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 Attorney General Schneiderman, a licensed nurse at a nursing home in Oswego, New York intentionally broke an elderly resident’s rib.
The charges stem from a November 8, 2016 incident at the Pontiac Care and Rehabilitation Center in Oswego, New York. According to the Attorney General, Darryl Boscoe, a licensed practical nurse, pushed an 89-year-old man down a hallway, where the man then fell and suffered a nondisplaced fracture to his left rib.
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.
On Christmas morning, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Woodbriar Health Care in Wilmington, Massachusetts improperly placed a resident in a mechanical lift when transferring her from bed to wheelchair, causing the resident to slip out of the lift and fall, breaking both her legs. The CNA attempted the transfer alone in violation of an important safety rule related to mechanical lifts.
The resident, Mary Meuse, was visited by her youngest daughter on Christmas and told by a staff member X-rays showed no broken bones. As a retired nurse who once cared for the elderly, she did not want to be hospitalized during the holiday. However, the next morning she received a phone call saying her mother was in a lot of pain and needed to be taken to the hospital immediately; the family learned of her injuries upon arrival. Continue reading