The rise and spread of drug-resistant germs, including infections and funguses, has been tied to nursing facilities and long-term care facilities. Due to lack of staff training on infection procedures, understaffing, and not being equipped to deal with serious infections, patients wind up being cycled through the hospital and back again. As a result, these dangerous germs spread not just within the facility, but also to hospitals—with devastating results.
In a recent incident at a memory care and dementia facility in Illinois, two employees can be seen on Snapchat videos mocking and humiliating residents. Police investigating the incident have called the footage “disturbing,” highlighting a discrepancy between the facility’s seemingly well-intentioned mission and the actual events occurring under its care.
Residents at the facility in Burr Ridge, Illinois suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Entrusted with the compassionate care of its patients, the videos showed employees instead emotionally traumatized patients – an ordeal no resident should have to go through. While there was no physical abuse shown in the videos, the emotional damage done can have long-lasting effects on its victims.
Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. dies from sepsis. Despite its prevalence, many people are unfamiliar with this life-threatening medical issue. To raise awareness about what sepsis is, how to recognize its symptoms, and the importance of timely treatment, September has been named Sepsis Awareness Month.
Sepsis is the body’s response to an infection, and occurs when the immune system sends infection-fighting chemicals to the entire body rather than just to the infection. The damage from these chemicals causes impaired blood flow, organ damage, and death. Of the 2 million people who develop sepsis in the U.S. each year, one-quarter of them will not survive. For those that do survive, many develop post-sepsis syndrome (PSS), which can cause long-term physical and psychological effects.
Michael Vecchio, a 29 year-old patient at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany, died after 3 months of hospitalization. The patient did not have a terminal illness or life-threatening condition–he was admitted because he suffered from schizophrenia. After weeks of not eating, he passed away.
The facility pointed to privacy laws when preventing Michael’s family from knowing he stopped eating until he was rushed in an ambulance to Morristown Medical Center on Jan. 24, 2017. His mother, Beth Vecchio, said a nurse told her that Michael suffered severe stomach pain “for a few days” before Greystone finally called the ambulance. Michael died twenty hours later.
Updated 9/20/2019 – Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act — a groundbreaking bill that would prohibit all companies, including nursing homes, from using forced arbitration.
The bill now moves to the Senate, and if passed, access to the court system may be restored to the multitudes of Americans who have been forced into arbitration or even unknowingly signed away their constitutional right to sue. This bill is crucial for nursing home residents, who have had a long, difficult history of being forced into unfair arbitration.
Because these clauses are often buried in a stack of documents, many nursing home residents and their families are unaware of their inability to sue until something bad happens. If passed, the FAIR Act would go a far way to leveling the playing field for nursing home residents.
Original blog below:
Legal rights will once again be stripped away from elderly and disabled residents in nursing homes. On July 16, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid overturned the ban on nursing homes using arbitration agreements with their residents. For decades, nursing facilities could hide their malpractice and handle all claims brought against them behind closed doors by forcing residents to sign away their legal rights in arbitration agreements. For residents who experienced neglect, assault, or death due to a facility’s failures, their families were denied access to the Court system because these agreements waived the rights of residents to a jury trial awarded to them by the Constitution. Instead, claims were decided in a process presided over by an arbitrator often of the nursing home’s choosing, and many times pursuant to the nursing home’s rules. When things went horribly wrong due to their malpractice, nursing homes were able to contain their costs in these arbitration proceedings in which discovery was a less than searching process and awards for damages to the residents would often be low.
Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, are an all too common occurrence in nursing homes and extended care facilities. The Federal Government has made a determination that “bedsores,” should not happen in nursing homes. See 42 C.F.R. 483.25(b)(ii) (stating “a resident . . . does not develop pressure sores unless the individual’s clinical condition demonstrates that they were unavoidable.”)
Those who are in a nursing home or extended care facility are usually there because there is a need for care beyond what can be provided at home. Elderly patients are especially prone to these potentially life-threatening sores, given their age, lack of mobility, thinner skin, and medical issues. However, bedsores can often be prevented with the right care plan in place. Their occurrence can be a sign of nursing home neglect.
A recent study found significant understaffing in 75% of nursing facilities across the country, raising concerns about the level of care patients receive.
The Harvard and Vanderbilt study, published in the July issue of the Journal of Health Affairs, used data from the Payroll Based Journal (PBJ) to analyze the staffing levels of more than 15,000 facilities. The study examined the staffing levels of registered nurses (RN), licensed practical nurses (LPN), and nurse aides, relative to the number of nursing home residents who rely on their care.
On June 12, 2019, a report released by the Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General revealed that Nursing Home Abuse remains largely unreported. The study examined claims sent to Medicare in 2016 by beneficiaries residing in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). The report states that approximately one in five of those emergency room visits were the result of potential abuse or neglect.
Late last December, a nurse at Hacienda HealthCare in Arizona panicked and called 911 as a patient unexpectedly gave birth. The 29 year old patient, who has been in a vegetative state since age 3, delivered a healthy baby boy. A police investigation concluded that one of her caregivers, a 32 year-old male nurse, raped the patient several times and fathered the child. The victim’s attorneys filed a $45 million notice of claim against the state of Arizona in late May.
After giving birth in the nursing home, the victim and baby were transferred to a nearby hospital. According to the hospital, the baby’s birth was “a repeat parous event,” meaning the victim had likely been pregnant before.
A list of nursing homes around the country flagged by federal lawmakers for persistent health issues has now been made public, and 11 of them are in New Jersey.
The government would previously not disclose the official list of the nursing homes with serious ongoing health, safety, or sanitary problems found by inspectors. The silence cracked on June 4th when Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania released the list of over 400 nursing homes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) flagged with persistently poor survey inspection results.