As a result of the unstable economy, many adults have been forced to work longer hours or multiple jobs, resulting in less time to care for their elderly parents at home. This is no exception for America’s growing Latino population, who often hold caring for elderly family members in high regard as a cultural tradition.

Government statistics show that Hispanics have a life expectancy of 82 years, longer than non-Hispanic white Americans (78.7 years) and non-Hispanic black Americans (75.1 years). Hispanic women have a life expectancy of 84.3 years. However, according to a poll conducted by Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, fewer than two out of every 10 Hispanics age 40 and older say they are extremely confident that nursing homes and assisted living facilities can meet their needs.

Continue Reading Special Considerations for Latinos Seeking Elder Care

Pressure ulcers, which people sometimes call bedsores, develop when a person spends too much time in the same position while lying in bed or sitting in a chair. During that prolonged time, the person’s body weight and bones create pressure by pressing the skin and soft tissue against the—harder—bed or chair surface. The pressure reduces blood supply to that area, and damages or destroys the skin tissue.

Without immediate intervention, pressure ulcers will develop, and then progress through the soft tissue located between the bone and the skin. In the most advanced stage, a pressure ulcer, which is an open wound, exposes muscle and bone, which can lead to osteomyelitis (a bone infection).

Nursing homes can prevent pressure ulcers and bedsores from developing.

In our Nursing Home Litigation Practice, our nursing home lawyers have long since understood that nursing home staff can detect the early changes occurring in a patient’s health status that indicate that the patient’s skin is about break down and develop a pressure ulcer—if they fail to immediately implement well-recognized and accepted interventions for avoiding pressure ulcers.

Tn order prevent a pressure ulcer from developing, the nursing home staff must routinely perform the process of inspecting the patient’s body from head to toe—every day. Nursing homes typically call that process the Daily Skin Assessment or, when pressure ulcers already exist, the Wound Care Assessment. This is the standard of care that nurses in the community, and nursing experts across the nation, recognize and accept when our nursing home lawyers litigate nursing home negligence cases involving pressure ulcers or bedsores. By merely inspecting the patient’s body, nursing home staff will detect the occurrence of the following early signs that indicate that a pressure ulcer will develop: skin redness (nonblancable), warm areas, spongy or hard skin, and breakdown in the skin’s top layers.

If the nursing home management adheres to the recognized and accepted standard of care for detecting those early signs, it can easily ensure that its nursing staff immediately implement the necessary interventions to prevent a pressure ulcer or bedsore from developing; and more importantly, spare the patient the unnecessary and avoidable pain, complications, and prolonged healing process that accompany a pressure ulcer or bedsore.

When the nursing home management fails to follow the recognized and accepted standard of care for detecting the early signs of a developing pressure ulcer or bedsore, it has committed nursing or nursing home negligence by failing to ensure that its staff is able to provide the necessary interventions.

That nursing home negligence will often cause the avoidable and unnecessary occurrence of a pressure ulcer or bedsore. And when left undetected and untreated, the pressure ulcer or bedsore progresses into a serious health problem for the patient. That is so, because when a patient has a break in the skin, the patient will have all of the issues associated with healing broken skin, plus the problems of caring for an open wound, including preventing life-threatening infections.

Our nursing home lawyers litigate nursing home negligence cases for caring families whose loved ones have developed pressure ulcers or bedsores, only against nursing homes that refuse to employ enough trained nursing staff on the recognized and accepted standard of care for preventing pressure ulcers or bedsores.

Placing someone in a long-term care facility is a very difficult decision to make. Many times, this decision is not due to physical limitations, but mental ones. Older folks who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s may be physically mobile, but due to cognitive issues, they require 24-hour supervision. They may forget where they are, get lost driving, forget to eat and drink or take their medications.

A new report was released by the Institute of Medicine and reported by ABC News and study co-sponsor AARP. The study examined the aging process and the brain. Not surprisingly, AARP found that staying mentally sharp was a top concern for its members.

The study recommended many things, including:

  • Avoid isolation and keep socially active;
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption;
  • Get a good night’s sleep;
  • Be physically active;
  • Participate in the arts; and,
  • Maintain a healthy diet.

You can read the articles by ABC News (click here) and AARP (click here). Download the full report for free from the Institute of Medicine by clicking here.

If you’re over 60, the next time someone tells you to “take a hike” it might not be a bad idea.   

A new study shows how problematic a sedentary lifestyle can be.  The study found that adults over the age of 60 spend roughly 9 sedentary hours per day, and that “[e]very additional hour adults over age 60 spend sitting increases by 50% their risk of being disabled for activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and walking”.

Exercise generally is linked to better health, both physically and mentally.  Turn off the TV and take a walk instead.  You’re far better off. 

To read the full article describing the study, please click here

Arbitration is a process of resolving complaints without the use of the court system.  A person basically signs a document waiving their right to a jury trial, and gets nothing in return.  The rules for arbitration are different, the process is confidential, and an arbitrator decides the case as opposed to a jury.  The family pays costs to prosecute a claim they would not have to typically pay in the court system (for example, a plaintiff does not have to pay a judge but does have to pay the arbitrator, which can be expensive).  Many nursing home corporations and companies want this forum because it is confidential and there is no jury. 

Nursing home companies get people to “agree” to mandatory arbitration by placing arbitration documents in long and complicated admission paperwork.  Most people have no idea that they sign this document.

Mandatory arbitration “agreements” used to be illegal in New Jersey.  When a person is doing nursing home admission paperwork, they are typically under great stress.  The admission process of placing a loved one in long term care is emotional, and a close reading of complex legal documents is not typically primarily on a person’s mind at admission – their mom or dad is.

However, recent cases have changed the law and now these documents are enforceable.  While these “agreements” are typically not a requirement for admission, this is not explained to people.  They usually do not know one exists until there is a problem.

A bill was recently proposed to make mandatory arbitration illegal – once and for all.  The bill is called the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013.  You can find information about it at: http://www.takejusticeback.com/node/164.

This law is a great idea and an effective fix to this problem.  If a person wants to arbitrate a claim after an injury, they always have that right.  No one should be forced to sign a document waiving their right to a jury trial before anything has happened.  A quick call to your congressperson in support of the law is an easy way to help effectuate this important change. 

I read an article online last week which reported of a recent case in which a nursing home owner and operator stole pension funds from a resident. On June 30, 2009 Michael D. Berg, 72, the owner of an Ocean Township nursing home, plead guilty to stealing approximately $39,000 from one of his home’s residents. Berg plead guilty to one count of third-degree theft by deception.

 

The Prosecutor’s Office had been investigating the allegations that Berg was stealing from his residents, and found that from January 1, 2005 through March 31, 2008, Berg began stealing pension funds which belonged to a resident of the home. Berg will face sentencing by Superior Court Judge Edward M. Neafsey in Freehold on July 31, 2009.

 

You can read more on this story online here.

Before pursuing any claim for nursing negligence, inquiry must be made as to the payor source for all forms of medical treatment received by the plaintiff. As a general rule, all bills related to ac cause of action paid by Medicaid are subject to recovery prior to payment to the plaintiff.

Because of the length of time it takes to determine the amount and applicability of both Medicaid and Medicare liens, inquiries to these entities should be made as soon as a case is opened. It is not uncommon for Medicare to take an excess of two years to determine the amount and applicability of liens.

You can read more practice tips in my chapter Screening the Nursing Malpractice Case, in a text edited by Patricia Iyer, RN MSN LNCC. More information about Nursing Malpractice, Third Edition, 2007 may be found at here.

Before even considering entering the realm of plaintiff’s malpractice litigation, it is imperative to become intimately familiar with your jurisdiction’s malpractice law, including certificates of merit, affidavits of merit and the like. In many jurisdictions, the failure to fully comply with theses statutes serves as a complete bar to recovery and forms the basis for a dismissal of plaintiff’s claims.

You can read more practice tips in my chapter Screening the Nursing Malpractice Case, in a text edited by Patricia Iyer, RN MSN LNCC. More information about Nursing Malpractice, Third Edition, 2007 may be found at here.

 

Some jurisdictions, New Jersey being one example, include provisions of the affidavit of merit statute which addresses situations where a defendant fails to produce a medical record, despite a legitimate request which has been made by certified mail. Under certain circumstances, the statue will allow an affidavit to be presented to the court indicating that despite an appropriate and timely presented request for records with a HIPPA-complaint authorization, such records were never presented and otherwise would have been necessary to have the matter evaluated by an expert.

You can read more practice tips in my chapter Screening the Nursing Malpractice Case, in a text edited by Patricia Iyer, RN MSN LNCC. More information about Nursing Malpractice, Third Edition, 2007 may be found at here.

A common problem in the prosecution of nursing negligence claims is an over-emphasis on liability (i.e. the conduct of nursing staff) which an under-emphasis on the issues of causation. Many cases fail in their prosecution as a consequence of this oversight. Before pursuing any claim, it is essential to ensure that there is a strong and legitimate causation relationship between the conduct complained of and the injury itself.

You can read more practice tips in my chapter Screening the Nursing Malpractice Case, in a text edited by Patricia Iyer, RN MSN LNCC. More information about Nursing Malpractice, Third Edition, 2007 may be found at here.