Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

A new wireless scanner may be able to detect pressure ulcers (commonly known as “bedsores”) earlier than current methods. The new technology was developed by Bruin Biometrics, a California company, and uses NASA technology. According to Bruin Biometrics, the new scanner can detect pressure ulcers up to four days earlier. Currently, pressure ulcers are mainly identified by visual inspection where nurses roll over patients and inspect their skin – a archaic and intrusive method.

Pressure ulcers are chronic wounds to a local area of skin and tissue, generally seen in patients that are bedridden or otherwise immobile. Pressure ulcers are a common, expensive, and frequently deadly medical condition. An estimated 11 percent of patients in “regulated care settings” (or, nursing homes) will develop pressure ulcers. In Ireland, pressure ulcers account for a full 4 percent of the country’s healthcare budget. Sadly, advanced pressure ulcers (stage three and stage four) can frequently be fatal and the number of fatalities caused by these ulcers is on the rise. Across the world, deaths attributable to pressure ulcers have increased almost 33 percent between 2000 and 2010.

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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

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

A Buffalo nursing home is under investigation after a resident-on-resident fight resulted in death at Emerald South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.  The fight began when 83 year old Ruth Murray accidentally wandered into a male resident’s room; both residents suffered from dementia. Murray suffered a punctured lung, multiple facial fractures, a lower back fracture, a broken neck and bruising from the fight. She was transported to Eerie County Medical Center where she passed away two days later.

The nursing facility issued a statement on the incident giving their condolences to the family and that they have been cooperating with authorities to conduct a thorough investigation. They continued to say they strive to provide a supportive, caring and safe environment for all residents. The incident is being investigated by the New York State Department of Health as well who declined to give a statement due to the pending investigation. Buffalo Police Department is also conducting an investigation; no charges have been levied at this time. The family retained an attorney, who is assisting with the investigation.

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An Upstate New York Nursing Facility is being sued by the son of a 63 year-old patient, who died after choking on a grilled cheese sandwich. Maureen A. Bali, a resident at Huntington Living Center from May through December 2015, suffered from dementia. As part of Bali’s resident plan of care, she was fitted for and wore dentures to eat. She required her dentures to be able to bite and chew solid food. Federal regulation 483.35(g) – Dietary Services/Assistive devices, states “the facility must provide special eating equipment and utensils for residents who need them.” On December 19, 2015, according to the lawsuit, Huntington staff “negligently, carelessly and recklessly” fed Bali a grilled cheese sandwich without wearing her dentures. Subsequently, she choked on the sandwich resulting in respiratory distress related to aspiration. Ms. Bali died on December 22, 2015 due to complications associated with choking and aspiration of food. According to a recent advertisement for the facility, The Center, self-proclaimed, “Secure Dementia Care Specialists” has a special needs unit “committed to providing expert and compassionate care in a warm, safe comfortable environment.”

Lawson L. Bali, Maureen Bali’s son, is suing Huntington Living Center for neglect and wrongful death. The lawsuit filed on July 28, 2016 in New York State Supreme Court, claims that his mother “received negligent medical care and improper treatment from Huntington, resulting in her wrongful death.” He also claims that his mother “experienced conscious pain and suffering from December 19-22, 2015 and was deprived of her rights/and or benefits created or established for her well being, in violation of nursing home laws, rules and regulations, as well as New York Public Health Law 2801-d.”

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Woodbriar Health Center of Wilmington, Massachusetts faces up to $100,000 in fines following the death of a resident that resulted from a fall on Christmas day of 2015. The nursing home has been accused several times of poor care by the state and families of residents. An 83 year old resident, Mary Meuse, was dropped from a mechanical lift that caused her to break both her legs and led to her death 2 days later. The staff at Woodbriar did not notify Meuse’s family for 24 hours although they were aware of her condition at the time of incident. The nursing home is now facing fines of $250 to $3,000 a day in the wake of Meuse’s death; if the fines begin from December 25, 2015, the facility could face up to $100,000. Continue reading

Monroe County nursing homes have been cited for numerous deficiencies that often place residents at risk, yet they are still open for business; a Rochester nursing home remained open for two years after receiving chronic violations from the government. Democrat and Chronicle, a newspaper in Rochester, NY found that more than 1/3 of violations received have been cited by Department of Health (DOH) inspectors during previous or checkup inspections (repeat offenses). In some instances, the conditions that led to repeat citations were the basis of wrongful death lawsuits.

reportThere are 34 nursing homes in Monroe County, all of which were cited for a total of 768 state and federal violations during the period of 2012 to 2015; 38% of those citations were repeat deficiencies. The DOH is supposed to ensure that nursing homes comply with regulations of minimum standards of care by making random visits every nine to 15 months and posting the results of inspections online.  However, many believe this method is not enough and the state should do more as a means of enforcement. Rose Marie Fagan, a citizen of the town of Victor said that there is no reason for less than excellent nursing home care and that the community should demand better for the elderly. Continue reading

Hopkins Center for Rehabilitation & Healthcare in Brooklyn was recently fined $10,000.00 by the New York State Department of Health for a citation issued during a 2012 inspection.  The incident involved an 87 year-old female resident whose advanced directives were not completed and therefore not followed. The resident’s grand-daughter had executed a Do Not Resuscitate order (“DNR”).  However, the staff at the facility failed to have the order signed by a physician.

One week later, the resident unfortunately went into cardiac arrest.  Staff at the nursing home performed CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation), which was against the resident’s wishes.  The resident was successfully resuscitated, but suffered a fractured rib.  The Department of Health investigated the incident and found it resulted in “actual harm” to the resident.

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