Articles Posted in Nursing Home Violations

 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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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 ignalarm-300x200ored 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

The American Health Care Association (ACHA) filed a lawsuit against the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Monday, October 17 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. The suit was filed after CMS finalized a regulation barring nursing homes from forcing residents to enter into arbitration agreements. ACHA and four long-term care providers filed a lawsuit against the secretary of Health and Human Services as well as the acting administrator of CMS.

An arbitration clause is a clause in a contract requiring parties to resolve issues through the arbitration process, therefore preventing disputes from being litigated in court. These clauses have forced claims of sexual harassment, elder abuse and even instances of wrongful death from being handled in an open court. CMS has issued a rule that will prevent nursing homes receiving federal funding from requiring arbitration clauses be signed in their contracts. Continue reading

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the Health and Human Services Department, has issued a rule that will prevent nursing homes receiving federal funding from requiring resident’s to sign admission agreements with arbitration clauses. An arbitration clause is a clause in a contract requiring parties to resolve issues through the arbitration process, therefore depriving the resident of his/her right to bring a lawsuit against the nursing home. These clauses have forced claims of sexual harassment, elder abuse and even instances of wrongful death from being handled in an open courcourthouset.

The fine print of arbitration clauses have also prevented disputes on resident safety and quality of care from being publicly known. This rule will provide new protections to 1.5 million nursing home residents. The agency’s new rule is the most significant overhaul of rules regarding federal funding for long term care facilities, restoring millions of Americans their right to pursue action in an open court.  The rule applies to pre-dispute matters, allowing the parties to a dispute the opportunity to seek arbitration after a dispute arises. Continue reading

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