To increase protection of its elderly and disabled citizens from abuse and neglect, the state of New Jersey is expanding its Safe Care Cam program to nursing homes, residences for the developmentally disabled, and other institutional care facilities. The Safe Care Cam program loans free surveillance cameras to New Jersey residents to monitor the treatment provided by caregivers. The cameras are provided for free 30-day loans to families who suspect or question whether a care provider is abusing or neglecting their loved one.
Without a hearing, our new congress wasted no time in trying to severely limit damages in nursing home abuse claims. A newly proposed law called the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 H.R. 1215, seeks to limit non-economic damages in all medical cases to $250K for everyone in the country.
In its five-part “Failing the Frail” series, a PennLive investigation reveals the 18 most understaffed Pennsylvania nursing homes. The series includes an interactive map to search for staffing levels of individual nursing homes.
Based on PennLive’s analysis of 559 facilities, nursing homes in Pennsylvania provided residents with an average of only 3.6 hours of care per day, well below the minimum 4.1 hours recommended for safe care, although within Pennsylvania’s minimum staffing requirement of 2.7 hours of care per day. The analysis found 477 homes, or 85 percent, provided less than the recommended level. The analysis further found that 183 homes, or 33 percent, were dangerously understaffed because they provided less than 3.5 hours of care per day and, less than 32 minutes of care from registered nurses.
In 2011, the insurance, pharmaceutical, and nursing home industries worked together with an extraordinary budget to try to deceive American consumers into giving up their constitutional rights through a bill known then as HR-5. This bill would have severely harmed the rights of consumers across the country who were catastrophically injured or killed by any of those industries. The purpose of HR-5 was to allow physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies to increase their ever-burgeoning profit levels. With proponents of the bill outspending lobbying efforts of consumer rights organizations by a ratio of 10 to 1, the bill nonetheless failed when the truth came out.
Just this week the New Jersey Attorney General, Christopher Porrino, and the Division of Consumer Affairs announced an exciting new program to protect individuals from the abuses of home healthcare providers. It is called the Safe Care Cam program and the purpose of the program is to provide micro-surveillance cameras for free 30 day loans to families that suspect an in-home care giver is abusing or neglecting their loved one.
Special kudos to the Reading Eagle on its recent series on nursing homes – in particular the editorial We Must Demand Better from Nursing Homes, Regulators, published on December 11, 2016. For those of us who work hard to hold nursing home corporations accountable when seniors are neglected, abused, seriously injured, or die, this series of articles is a vindication.
In our practice, we represent individuals, who are often diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and their families. It is not uncommon for individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia suffer from poor safety awareness and poor decision making. This can lead to devastating results and injuries if a nursing home does not properly care for the resident’s individual needs and safety. Due to the debilitating nature of Alzheimer’s and dementia, researchers have been studying the disease and there appears to be some good news on the horizon.
A November 21, 2016, article by Liz Szabo posted on CNN.com discussed how a recently published study showed that dementia rates have fallen nearly 24% from 2000 to 2012. The significant rate of decline is attributed to Americans’ rising educational levels and better heart health.
The study, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, began in 1992 and focused on people over 50 years old. The researchers collected data from the participants every two years. The data included interviews, physical tests, body measurements, blood samples, and saliva samples.
Researchers are not certain why dementia rates are declining, but the evidence is mounting that higher education and better heart health are related to the decline.
This is promising news because currently, according to Alzheimer’s Association of America, as many as 5.1 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It is also estimated that a half million Americans under 65 have some form of dementia.
It was recently reported by ABC27 News that the Pennsylvania Attorney General Office has brought a lawsuit against Grane Healthcare and their facilities individually for understaffing and not providing basic services to its residents.
More troubling is the fact that the state alleges that “Grane’s business practices are deceptive and misleading because it advertises that it strives for a very high staff-to-patient ratio.”
After doing nursing home neglect and abuse claims day in and day out, it is encouraging to see state agencies stepping up and holding these facilities to task as well.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) can be a serious problem for the elderly in nursing homes. Those afflicted with UTIs can have delusions, dementia-like symptoms, and will feel the urge to urinate all the time. This can be a recipe for disaster for a person that requires help to get to the bathroom. Many serious and fatal falls occur because residents with UTIs will constantly feel like they need to get to the bathroom, forget to use the call bell, and will get up on their own.
Additionally, if UTIs are not treated they can lead to sepsis and death.
One of the historically typical and easiest solutions to avoid UTIs was to just drink cranberry juice. Unfortunately, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and reported by KFOR places this common wisdom into doubt.
Although drinking cranberry juice was not discouraged, the study showed taking cranberry capsules (pills with cranberry extract) had a “limited potential effect.”
Families know their loved ones best, and many times it is families that diagnose UTIs and not a facility. Watch for signs of increased urination, delusions or odd behavior, fever, or general lethargy. With quick treatment, most UTIs clear up, but if they go untreated they can be lethal.
During much of the 20th century, hospitals did not have a duty to treat patients who entered emergency departments. Without any given reason, they could refuse to treat certain patients. The practice of “patient dumping” arose from that lack of duty.
Patient dumping refers to situations when hospitals deny emergency medical screening and stabilization services. It also refers to instances when a hospital transfers an individual to another hospital after discovering that the individual does not have insurance or a means to pay for treatment.
To correct that wrong and in an effort to ensure that individuals received needed emergency care, in 1986 Congress enacted EMTALA, which was designed to protect all individuals seeking evaluation or treatment at hospital emergency departments that participate in Medicare. Continue Reading