A recent investigation by CNN brought to light the expanding and allegedly inappropriate use of the prescription drug Nuedexta in nursing homes throughout the country. Nuedexta is FDA-approved to treat a rare condition known as pseudobulbar affect (PBA).

What is Pseudobulbar Affect?

Pseudobulbar affect is characterized by sudden and uncontrollable laughing or crying. It is associated with people who have multiple sclerosis (MS) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALM), known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Avanir Pharmaceuticals has been aggressively targeting elderly nursing home residents with the drug, the CNN investigation found, although PBA reportedly impacts less than 1 percent of Americans, based on a calculation using the drug maker’s own figures

What the Investigation Revealed

Nuedexta prescription use in nursing homes is rising at a rapid rate, even though Avanir Pharmaceuticals acknowledges that the drug has not been extensively studied in elderly patients, according to CNN.

Continue Reading CNN Investigates Expanding Use of Nuedexta in Nursing Homes

The most recent attempt to overhaul the nation’s health care system would fundamentally alter Medicaid and jeopardize home and community-based services, according to www.DisabilityScoop.com. A chart outlining the proposed bill is available here.

After a prior Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed, this new effort in the U.S. Senate again seeks to upend the Obama-era law.

The proposal introduced last week by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis. runs into a deadline of September 30. After that date, a simple majority will not suffice to pass the measure – rather, 60 votes would be needed to do so.

Thus, Republicans have until Sept. 30 to repeal Obamacare with only 51 votes in the Senate under the current budget resolution.

Continue Reading New Healthcare Bill Would Impact Medicaid Services

A new law will soon take effect requiring nursing home employees to notify police within hours of suspected abuse – or to call 911 if the situation is an emergency. “Peggy’s Law” will provide additional protections to nursing home residents by ensuring that law enforcement is promptly notified of possible criminal abuse cases.

Peggy’s Law was named for 93-year-old Peggy Marzolla, who died following injuries suffered while in the care of a nursing home in 2010. When Peggy Marzolla was taken to the hospital, it was found that she had sustained a broken eye socket, cheekbone, jaw, and wrist, as well as a badly bruised elbow, a gash on her leg, and welts on her back.

Staff members at the nursing home stated that she had slipped on some powder in a bathroom and fallen. Her daughter did not believe the explanation and spent the next several years lobbying lawmakers to better protect institutionalized seniors.

Governor Chris Christie signed Peggy’s Law on August 7, 2017 and it will go into effect 60 days later.

Continue Reading Peggy’s Law Protects Elderly Nursing Home Residents

The current administration has set its sights on another federal rule, seeking to eliminate the ban on pre-dispute arbitration agreements for nursing home residents. Pre-dispute arbitration agreements require elderly adults and individuals with disabilities, as well as their families, to waive their right to file a lawsuit in the courts – before admission to a nursing home. As a condition to entering the nursing home, the prospective resident and his or her representative would be required to submit any dispute, including claims of egregious abuse or neglect, to mandatory arbitration proceedings.

The Current Rule

As the rule currently stands, a nursing home resident cannot be required to waive his or her right to access to the court system. This rule preserves the right of vulnerable nursing home residents to sue for injuries caused by nursing home negligence, abuse, and neglect, including pressure sore infections, suffocation caused by restraints, choking, dehydration-related conditions, gangrene, and even sexual assault. Continue Reading Nursing Home Residents Deprived of Right to Sue for Abuse and Neglect

Mandatory Arbitration in Nursing Home Admission Contracts

A proposed rule change introduced by the Trump administration would authorize mandatory, pre-dispute arbitration in long-term care admissions contracts. The proposed rule is in response to an Obama administration rule that prohibited federal funding for long-term care facilities that required residents to resolve disputes through arbitration.

ABA Writes Letter Opposing Rule Change

In a recent letter, the American Bar Association (ABA) advocates for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to retain its current rule prohibiting long-term care facilities from entering into binding arbitration agreements with residents until after a dispute arises. In the letter sent to CMS administrator Seema Verma, the ABA writes that implementing the proposed rule would harm residents’ rights and interests.

Continue Reading ABA Resists Mandatory Arbitration Clauses in Nursing Home Admissions Contracts

The latest tort reform measure, H.R. 1215, the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, would place caps on medical malpractice damages, limit attorney fees, and modify statutes of limitations. Among other changes to current law, non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits would be limited to $250,000 – and juries would not be informed of this cap on damages. H.R. 1215 would apply to health care lawsuits where coverage for the care was provided or subsidized by the federal government, including through subsidies or tax benefits.

H.R. 1215 would preempt state laws governing health care litigation in several areas, including statutes of limitation, joint and several liability, product liability, and attorney contingency fees.

Proponents of the bill claim that the bill would lower medical liability insurance premiums, and by extension, reduce the incidence of so-called “defensive” medical treatments and lower costs associated with federal health care programs such as Medicaid.

Continue Reading Will Tort Reform Affect Nursing Home Care?

The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently inspected the 139 nursing homes that it insures. HUD gave a Philadelphia nursing home its lowest possible rating. On a scale of 100, Bala Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Wynnefield Heights scored a 2.

Federal inspectors found 58 “safety and health” violations at Bala Nursing, including 37 that put residents in jeopardy. The violations including missing or broken handrails, blocked or locked fire exits, exposed wiring and missing protective plates, m broken “call-for-aid” devices, and rodent infestation.

Continue Reading Lowest Rating for Philadelphia’s Bala Nursing Home After Inspection

If you are a member of the so-called “sandwich generation” – those people who are simultaneously caring for children as well as their elderly parents – you may be familiar with U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings. But did you know that U.S. News & World Report also has nursing home ratings? In fact, U.S. News recently evaluated more than 15,000 nursing homes across the country, ultimately including approximately 2000 of those facilities (366 in New Jersey) in its list of Best Nursing Homes.

U.S. News began publishing online ratings of nursing homes in 2009. Until its latest release, the tool used a “snapshot” of the star ratings posted on Nursing Home Compare, a consumer website of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS assigns an overall rating of one to five stars to nursing homes according to their performance in three areas – state-conducted health inspections, nurse staffing and medical quality measures.

Continue Reading Where Can I Find Nursing Home Ratings?

A caregiver may face the overwhelming decision to place a loved one in a nursing home after a sudden event such as a fall or a stroke. Sometimes, there is more time to prepare, as in cases where the loved one suffers from a chronic or debilitating disease, including diseases where the patient is expected to deteriorate over time.

Once a loved one is safely tucked into a nursing home bed, a caregiver may feel a sense of relief. However, nursing home staff members are notoriously overburdened with the everyday tasks involved in caring for their elderly patients. Nonetheless, it is the responsibility of nursing home staff and management to ensure that each resident receives the care he or she needs.

Continue Reading What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Neglect?

When a loved one moves into a nursing home, staff members have a duty to continually provide the resident with the appropriate level of nursing care, medical care and personal attention.

Nursing home staff members are responsible for the residents’ well-being and are required to report all signs of abuse or neglect, including those arising from resident-to-resident interactions.

One form of abuse or neglect that may be overlooked by staff members is senior bullying. Continue Reading Is My Elderly Parent Being Bullied?