April 21, 2014

Investigation Finds Abuse, Neglect of Special-Needs Children in Nursing Homes

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

6258895360_61361ba375_z.jpgA federal investigation of nursing homes caring for children with disabilities led to a lawsuit against the Florida state government, with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging that the state’s social services department is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). United States v. Florida, No. 0:13-cv-61576, complaint (S.D. Fla., Jul. 22, 2013). The DOJ alleges that almost two hundred children, who could be receiving home- or community-based care, are receiving unnecessary treatment in nursing facilities, and that the care is often inadequate to the children’s needs. The case was consolidated in December 2013 with a private putative class action lawsuit against the state, A.R., et al v. Dudek, et al, No. 0:12-cv-60460, which raises similar claims.

Title II of the ADA prohibits state and local governments from discriminating on the basis of disability. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states must make reasonable efforts to eliminate or prevent unnecessary segregation of disabled individuals in institutions. Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999). The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division (CRD) has been rather aggressive in enforcing the ADA as interpreted in Olmstead in recent years. Since 2009, the DOJ has filed lawsuits against at least eleven states regarding alleged discrimination and neglect of disabled individuals, and it has intervened in numerous private lawsuits.

The Civil Rights Division began investigating Florida’s system for treating disabled children with “medically fragile” conditions in 2011. In a letter to the Florida Attorney General dated September 4, 2012, it reported its findings that the state was in violation of Title II of the ADA. Investigators reportedly visited the six nursing homes that house the majority of Florida’s disabled, institutionalized children. They found that many children who were residing in a nursing home would benefit more if they received care at home or in their own community. Many families stated that they wanted to bring their children home, but that state policies made it difficult or impossible to do so.

Continue reading "Investigation Finds Abuse, Neglect of Special-Needs Children in Nursing Homes" »

February 7, 2014

Medicare and Medicaid Regulations Assist in Preventing Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

DSCF1803.JPGNursing homes often rely on participation in Medicare and Medicaid. Without the assistance of these programs, fewer patients would be able to afford a stay in these facilities, and more of them would go out of business. Participation in Medicare and Medicaid, however, is contingent upon compliance with regulations and standards of care enforced by the federal government. As a case decided by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals several years ago shows, these regulations can help prevent abuse and neglect in nursing homes, or provide victims with evidence if abuse or neglect does occur.

A North Carolina nursing home appealed several monetary fines imposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), arguing in part that the evidence did not support CMS’s findings. Universal Healthcare v. U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, No. 09-1093, slip op. (4th Cir., Jan. 29, 2010). CMS imposed fines against the nursing home on two occasions, in November and December 2005, for violations relating to patient care. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower courts’ rulings.

The first set of fines involved a patient identified by the court as G.J., who was to receive a dose of a pain medication, Cafergot, every morning. The CMS investigators found that the duty nurse was unable to give G.J. that medication one morning, because the on-site pharmacy had run out. Instead, they substituted the pain medication Darvocet. The pharmacy did not obtain a new supply of Cafergot until later in the day. CMS found the facility in violation of two regulations: failing to provide adequate pharmaceutical services, 42 C.F.R. § 483.60(a); and failing to provide a "quality of care" matching a patient’s comprehensive assessment, 42 C.F.R. § 483.25.

Continue reading "Medicare and Medicaid Regulations Assist in Preventing Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect" »

August 9, 2011

$91.5M Nursing Home Neglect Verdict Awarded to Family of Woman for Her Wrongful Death

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Our Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyers represent victims of Maryland nursing home negligence and their families. Nursing home operators should be held liable when abuse or poor care causes a patient to suffer serious injuries, illness, or death. For more information, please visit our Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog for more information.

Unfortunately, incidents of nursing home neglect and abuse throughout the US are not uncommon. Recently, a jury awarded the family of one elderly woman $91.5 million in their nursing home negligence case blaming assisted living facility Heartland of Charleston, which is owned by HCR ManorCare Inc., for her wrongful death. HCR Manor Care is a Carlyle Group nursing home subsidiary.

According to attorneys for the plaintiffs, Dorothy Douglas’s health deteriorated to the point that she was near death during her three-week stay at the nursing home in 2009. By the time she was transferred to another facility, the 87-year-old woman, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and several other conditions was unresponsive, severely dehydrated, and had lost 15 pounds. She died soon after.

The plaintiffs accused Heartland of medical negligence and of not having enough nurses on staff to properly care for Dorothy. A number of the nursing home’s former workers testified during the civil trial that it was impossible to give all patients the proper care that they needed. Employee turnover rate at Heartland in 2009 was reportedly 112%.

Heartland is owned by ManorCare Inc, which operates hundreds of US nursing homes. Of the $91.5 million verdict, $11.5 million is compensatory damages and $80 million is punitive damages.

Maryland Nursing Home Negligence
It is important that assisted living facilities have not just enough staff members but that they are properly trained and have the experience to give patients the care that they need. Making sure that a patient is properly fed, and hydrated is part of providing basic care. People who are sick and/or elderly cannot afford to become malnourished or dehydrated. These conditions can cause serious health complications and even deaths that could have been prevented were not for the negligent nursing care a resident received.

You want to work with experienced Owing Mills nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers that know how to prove that a facility and its staff were careless, reckless, or made mistakes.

Heartland must pay $91.5M in fatal neglect case, The Charleston Gazette, August 5, 2011

Carlyle Nursing Unit to Appeal $91.5 Million Medical Negligence Verdict, Bloomberg, August 8, 2011

More Blog Posts:

Nursing Home Sued in Two Different Wrongful Death Lawsuits, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, July 25, 2011

Hospital to Pay $5.4M in Bedsore Injury Lawsuit, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, July 19, 2011

Elder Financial Abuse Costing Victims Almost $3 Billion, Reports MetLife Mature Market Institute Study, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, May 31, 2011

February 22, 2011

Staff Was Inattentive on The Night of Patient Murder at Jessup Psychiatric Hospital, Says Maryland Health Investigators

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

An investigation by Maryland health investigators into the September 2010 murder of psychiatric patient Susan Sachs by fellow patient El Soudani El-Wahhabi at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center has revealed that employees at the maximum-security psychiatric facility may have inattentive and sleeping on the job that night. El-Wahhabi, who has admitted to strangling and kissing the 45-year-old victim, is charged with Sachs’ murder.

As the murder was taking place, video surveillance shows one hospital staffer sitting on a couch from where there was no view of the patients’ rooms. Another worker, who was at the nursing station, exhibited no signs of movement.

Among the report’s findings:
• The door-locking system to the ward was not activated, which means that on the night of September 25, 2010, the doors to patients’ rooms were unlocked for most of the night. This allowed El-Wahhabi to enter Sachs’ room undetected and without permission.

• After 9:15pm that night, the workers stopped conducting half-hour checks on the patients. They filled out forms to make it appear as if the checks had occurred.

• Video footage shows two of the hospital workers watching TV and sleeping a few hours before Sachs was murdered.

Remedies to such lax behavior at the hospital have reportedly been implemented since then. However, advocates continue to criticize the hospital for not doing enough to protect patients—especially women—from becoming the victim of assault. Meantime, Sheilah Davenport, the hospital’s chief executive, is to step down at the end of the month.

Maryland Medical Negligence
Hospitals and nursing homes can be held liable for Jessup County medical malpractice or nursing home negligence if poor quality care or inadequate security allowed a patient to become a victim of a crime. Sexual assault, physical assault, patient abuse, and patient violence are serious problems that occur in facilities throughout the US. There must be preventive measures and administrative procedures in place to so that such tragic incidents stop happening.

Report: State hospital staff sleeping, watching TV after woman strangled, Gazette.net, February 16, 2011

Staff at hospital partly criticized in patient killing, Baltimore Sun, February 11, 2011

Related Web Resources:
Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

More Maryland Accident Law Blog Posts:
Maryland Mental Hospital Patient Charged with Murder of Fellow Patient, Maryland Accident Law Blog, September 27, 2010

Maryland Medical Malpractice and Fraud Alleged in 101 Claims Against Towson Hospital, Maryland Accident Law Blog, October 16, 2010

Baltimore County Wrongful Death Lawsuit Accuses Westminster Assisted Living Facility of Maryland Nursing Home Neglect, Maryland Accident Law Blog, April 28, 2010

Continue reading "Staff Was Inattentive on The Night of Patient Murder at Jessup Psychiatric Hospital, Says Maryland Health Investigators" »

November 24, 2010

Salmonella Outbreak at Frederick County, Maryland Nursing Home Strikes 8 People

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

The Frederick County Health Department says that eight people recently fell ill with Salmonella at the Homewood at Crumland Farms nursing home. One person who had to be hospitalized after developing Salmonella died afterward. The assisted living facility’s nursing home director says that the death was caused by other health issues.

This microscopic bacteria can be spread through food and feces and from person to person. Eating poultry or meat that wasn’t cooked at the right temperature can cause Salmonella. Although generally a non-life threatening condition, it can exacerbate existing health issues and can be very dangerous for infants, young kids, pregnant women, unborn babies, people with weakened immune systems, and older adults. Signs of Salmonella include fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

It is important that Maryland nursing home make sure that their kitchens are clean and satisfy all safety and health regulation and that food, drink, and produce are properly handled, stored, prepared, and cooked. In the event that a nursing home resident gets sick, develops health issues, and/or dies from Salmonella or from other food-related bacteria and the contamination could have been avoided were it not for negligence, carelessness, or recklessness, the patient may have grounds for a Frederick County nursing home negligence case.

About 400 people die a year from acute salmonellosis.

Salmonella outbreak sickens eight at Frederick nursing home, Frederick News Post, November 24, 2010

Frederick nursing home hit with 8 salmonella cases, Washington Examiner/AP, November 24, 2010

Salmonellosis, CDC

Related Web Resources:
Salmonella Questions and Answers, USDA

Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

Continue reading "Salmonella Outbreak at Frederick County, Maryland Nursing Home Strikes 8 People" »

September 27, 2010

Maryland Mental Hospital Patient Charged with Murder of Fellow Patient

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Maryland State Police have charged El Soudani El-Wahhabi, also called Saladin Taylor, with first- and second-degree murder. El-Wahhabi, who is a patient at the at the Clifton T. Perkins mental hospital, is accused of killing Susan Sachs, who was also a resident at the Jessup facility.

According to the Washington Post, Sachs’ dead body was discovered on Sunday morning by her roommate. There was string around the 45-year-old woman’s neck. State investigators later arrested El-Wahhabi, who authorities say admitted to strangling and kissing Sachs.

Sachs had been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. She and El-Wahhabi lived in separate rooms in the same hallway in a medium-security wing of the hospital.

This is not the first violent crime allegedly involving El-Wahhabi. In 1993, El-Wahhabi was released on parole after serving time for assaulting a patient during an earlier stay at the Jessup mental hospital. He was charged in 1995 with the murder of Mona Johnson. Part of his tongue was discovered at the crime scene. According to the Baltimore Sun, a judge found him unfit to stand trial on sexual assault charges involving his sister-in-law as the alleged victim.

Maryland nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities where patients reside are responsible for protecting them from nursing abuse, nursing neglect, and violent assailants. This means hiring qualified workers that don’t have a criminal background and also making sure that if there are potentially dangerous residents staying at the facility, that steps are taken to protect the other patients from becoming the victims of sexual assault, assault and battery, rape, molestation, or murder. Failure to protect patients from violent crimes can be grounds for a lawsuit seeking damages for Maryland personal injury or wrongful death.

If you or someone you love was injured or killed while staying at a Maryland nursing home or hospital, contact our Baltimore nursing home abuse and negligence law firm today.

State mental hospital patient accused of killing another patient, The Baltimore Sun, September 27, 2010

Patient at Maryland mental hospital was strangled, police say, The Washington Post, September 27, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, US News & World Report

Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

April 28, 2010

Baltimore County Wrongful Death Lawsuit Accuses Westminster Assisted Living Facility of Maryland Nursing Home Neglect

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

The family of Rose Sarah Cangelosi Derrickson is suing Summerville at Westminster Assisted Living for Maryland wrongful death. The 90-year-old resident died on June 30, 2009 at Carroll Hospice's Dove House.

According to a the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality. Report, nursing home workers did not cut Derrickson’s meat on June 19, 2009 even though it was known that the Parkinson’s patient, whose ability to chew and swallow were impaired, needed help cutting up her food and using her utensils. After she fell into a “severe hypoxic [deficiency in oxygen] state,” Derrickson was transported to an emergency room. Forceps had to be used to remove a chunk of meat from her throat. Because the obstruction prevented her from breathing, a breathing tube was inserted in her and she was placed on a ventilator.

According to the family’s Baltimore nursing home negligence lawyer, Derrickson did not recover and moved into a hospice on June 23, 2009 She died seven days later from aspiration pneumonia.

In her Baltimore nursing home neglect lawsuit, Linda Yingling is seeking $2 million. She contends that mother's death could have been prevented if only nursing home workers took better care of her and provided her with the proper feeding care that she needed.

Food Choking Accidents
Many nursing home patients need someone to help them during meals. Depending on his/her condition, a nursing home patient may need the food to be cut into small pieces, ground up, or liquefied. Some residents require spoon feeding.

It is so important that a nursing home is familiar with each patient’s dietary and feeding needs. Not only is it important to make sure that a resident eat and drink enough, but by adhering to his/her special feeding instructions, choking and asphyxiation accidents can be prevented.

Lawsuit to be filed against Summerville, Carroll County Times, April 18, 2010

Woman Files Lawsuit In Mom's Choking Death, WBALTV.com, April 19, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Avoiding Everyday Choking Hazards, Parent Giving

Nursing Home Awareness Campaigns: Nutrition Care Alerts, Medicare.gov

Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

March 18, 2010

Are Bed Rails a Maryland Nursing Home Hazard?

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

By now we’ve heard about crib entrapment and the dangers posed by some poorly designed cribs that have openings wide enough between the crib slats and the mattress that an infant or toddler can easily fall into the space and die from suffocation. But were you aware that hospital beds can pose a similar hazard to the sick and the elderly?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, in the last 24 years, 480 people have died from entrapment in a hospital bed. A patient’s head can gets stuck between the bed’s rails or in the middle of the mattress, which can quickly lead to asphyxiation. There have been 138 reported injuries, 185 close calls, numerous other incidents involving hospital beds that have very likely gone unreported.

Hospital Bed Rails as an Entrapment Hazard
Apparently knowledge of this hazard isn’t new. The FDA issued a warning about bed rail entrapment in 1995. With this awareness, the use of bed rails at assisted living facilities is now under 10 %--although that is still a significant number.

People have filed nursing home negligence and products liability lawsuits as a result of personal injuries and wrongful deaths caused by a hospital bed with rails. One nursing home patient, Harry Griph, died not from failure to thrive, which the 75-year-old was suffering from, but because his neck got trapped between the mattress and bed rail. His cause of death was asphyxiation.

Hospital Bed Rails as a Fall Hazard
Although bed rails are considered a safety device for keeping confused, disoriented medicated, sick, or restless people from falling out of their beds in nursing homes and hospitals, bioethicist and geriatrician Steven Miles told the New York Times that while bed rails do lower a person’s fall risk by 10 – 15%, they increase injury risk by approximately 20%. A patient that tries to climb over the rails to get out of bed can end up falling from a higher elevation and sustaining a head injury.

Assisted living facilities can be held liable for Maryland nursing home negligence if they allowed a hazard to exist on the premise that should have been removed or repaired. A person who sustains a traumatic brain injury from falling off a hospital bed or the family members of a resident that dies from suffocation during a bed entrapment accident may have grounds for a Maryland injury lawsuit. The manufacturer of a poorly designed or defective hospital bed can be sued Maryland products liability.

Safe in Bed?, New York Times, March 10, 2010

Siderails, Falls in Long-Term Care

Related Web Resources:
Maryland Nursing Home Care Guide

Falls in Nursing Homes, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

Continue reading "Are Bed Rails a Maryland Nursing Home Hazard?" »

August 24, 2009

Howard County, Maryland Nursing Home Negligence?: 91-Year-Old Resident is Murdered by Another Patient

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

On Saturday, 91-year-old James W. Brown, a nursing home resident at a Columbia, Maryland nursing home, died of head trauma after another patient attacked him at the assisted living facility where they were was residing. Earl Lafayette Wilder, 87, was charged with first- and second- degree assault and second- degree murder over the incident.

Police officers arrived at Harmony Hall, the Howard County assisted living facility, at around 4pm after being called in to investigate the assault. They say that Wilder started hitting Brown in the head while the two men were seated outside the nursing home. The two patients do not appear to have known each other before the attack and they don’t think that Brown provoked Wilder.

The 91-year-old assault victim was transported to a hospital after the incident where he later died. Brown’s death is the first homicide to occur in the county since October 2008.

Nursing Home Negligence
Maryland nursing home staffers are supposed to properly supervise residents so that they don’t get hurt or their health conditions don’t deteriorate further due to nursing home neglect. It is also the assisted living facility's responsibility to make sure that residents don’t hurt other residents. This means keeping a close watch on patients with criminal histories or dementia or other conditions that might make them prone to attacking another person and, if necessary, keeping them away from workers and the other patients.

If a nursing home resident gets hurt or dies because the assisted living facility neglected to protect him or her from harm, the nursing home could be held liable for Maryland nursing home negligence and/or wrongful death.

Many nursing home residents are too sick or weak to take care of themselves and their poor health makes them even more prone to serious injury or death in the event they become the victims of neglect, an injury accident, or any type of violent crime.

Md. Man Charged in Nursing Home Murder, My Fox DC, August 24, 2009

Man, 87, charged in death of fellow senior home resident, 91, The Baltimore Sun, August 24, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Aggression between nursing-home residents more common than widely believed, studies find, Cornell University, May 29, 2008

Nursing Home Abuse Overview, Justia

August 18, 2009

Protecting Our Sick and Elderly From Maryland Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

If you have a sick or elderly loved one who needs to be admitted to a Maryland nursing home, it is natural to feel anxious. Not only will you be sending your family member to live with a bunch of strangers and placing his or her medical care and well-being in their hands, but you likely have been hearing and reading a lot about the various incidents of nursing home neglect and abuse that have occurred in assisted living facilities throughout the US.

While there is no guarantee that your loved one won’t become the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you can decrease the chances that you are placing your elderly or sick loved on in an unsafe environment by actually visiting a number of Maryland facilities before deciding where your family member should live.

You will want to check out not only the living accommodations and recreational areas, but you will want to inspect the dining room and kitchen and quality of food that each assisted living facility provides their residents. You will also need to find out how much attention each patient receives.

Talk to the workers and maybe even some of the residents to get a sense of the place and the people who live and work at the nursing home. Is the atmosphere depressing? Are the facilities clean? What is the interaction like between the nursing home staffers and the patients? Do the residents appear content and relaxed to be at the nursing home? Are nursing home workers trained to deal with your loved one’s particular illness and needs? What is the ratio between the number of nurses and the number of patients?

Have Maryland nursing home negligence lawsuits been filed against a nursing home before? What was the outcome of the cases? Does the facility have a history of nursing home violations? What are they and have they been remedied?

Size Up a Nursing Home by Visiting, US News, March 11, 2009

Nursing home checklist, Medicare

Related Web Resources:
Maryland Nursing Home Guide, Maryland Health Care Commission

Nursing Homes in Maryland

Continue reading "Protecting Our Sick and Elderly From Maryland Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect" »

April 5, 2009

Maryland Health Care Commission Presents 2008 Maryland Nursing Home Family Experience of Care Survey

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

For the second year, the Maryland Health Care Commission has made available to consumers the ratings of individual nursing home results based on a survey taken by family members and other responsible parties about the care that their loved ones received at a long-term care facility. The 2008 Maryland Nursing Home Family Experience of Care Survey is available on the Commission’s Web site.

The survey is a collaboration between the nursing home industry, consumers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, advocates, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 223 Maryland nursing homes were part of the survey. Short-term skilled nursing care and rehabilitation after a hospital stay were not included.

Some 9,645 of the 17,057 responsible parties who were contacted sent in survey responses by the January 13, 2009 due date. For participants to take part, their sick or elderly loved one had to have lived in a Maryland nursing home for at least 90 days. Areas rated for 2008 include the care residents received, administration and staff, food and meals, resident rights, resident autonomy, and physical aspects.

Average scores for overall care was 8.2 out of 10, which is the same as the year prior. 89% of respondents said they would recommend the Maryland nursing home that they were evaluating to others. Health officials are hoping the survey findings will help responsible parties who are trying to determine where to house a patient.

Choosing a Maryland Nursing Home
Choosing a nursing home for your loved one is a big step. It is important that you perform your due diligence about the long-term care facility you eventually select. This will hopefully minimize the chances of your loved one becoming the victim of nursing home abuse or nursing neglect.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid recommends a number of steps when choosing a nursing home, including:

1) Getting a list of nursing homes in your area and asking family, doctors, neighbors or friends for any recommendations.

2) Making sure that you compare the quality of care offered by the different nursing homes that you are considering. You can visit the Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare Web site for a list of homes in Maryland and find out how they are rated for the care they provide.

3) Visit the nursing homes you are considering so you can get a firsthand look at how current patients are taken care of, whether or not they appear happy and secure, and if you like the nurses and other workers and whether they seem attentive to the residents. You can also personally evaluate the facilities and services.

2008 Maryland Nursing Facility Family Survey, Maryland.gov (PDF)

Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home, Medicare.gov

Related Web Resources:
Nursing Home Compare, Medicare.gov

Maryland Nursing Home Guide, Maryland Health Care Commission

Continue reading "Maryland Health Care Commission Presents 2008 Maryland Nursing Home Family Experience of Care Survey " »

March 27, 2009

Increase in Number of Younger and Middle Aged Mentally Ill Patients in US Nursing Homes is Leading to Violent Crimes Against Elderly Residents

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

According to the Associated Press, the number of mentally ill patients in US nursing homes increased by 41% between 2002 and 2008. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says these approximately 125,000 long-term care residents make up 9% of the overall nursing home population.

There are a number of reasons for this. A number of state facilities have shut down and there aren't enough hospital psychiatric beds. There is also more room in US nursing homes because a lot of older residents are healthier and more independent than those from past generations. As a result, there are less of them requiring long-term care.

Unfortunately, this increase of patients with mental illnesses in nursing homes has resulted in crimes being committed by the younger ones against older nursing home residents. The younger residents tend to be stronger than the older ones, and because they aren’t always aware of or can be responsible for their actions, they may hurt older residents that are too sick or frail to defend themselves. For example:

• An elderly patient, 77, died after his roommate, 72, beat him using the towel bar from the bathroom. His attacker did not go to trial for killing him because he was found incompetent.

• A 23-year-old woman was also found incompetent to go to trial after she was charged with igniting a fire at a nursing home that killed 16 patients.

• A 21-year-old mentally ill resident raped a 69-year-old woman. The nursing home reportedly failed to supervise him despite knowing about his violent history.

• A 77-year-old nursing home resident was in his bed when his much younger roommate, who was mentally ill, slammed a clock radio into his face. The elderly resident died from his injuries.

It is the responsibility of Maryland nursing homes to make sure that all of their residents are housed in a safe environment. This means making sure that older, sick residents are kept separate from younger, stronger patients with mental or behavioral challenges, as well as making sure that these patients with special needs get the care, attention, and supervision they require so that they don’t become a danger to themselves or others. Failure to exercise this duty of care can be grounds for nursing home neglect or wrongful death.

Housing Mentally Ill in Nursing Homes Sometimes Leads to Violence, NewsInferno.com, March 24, 2009

Nursing Homes Called 'Dumping Grounds' for Mentally Ill, MedPage, March 23, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Welcome to the Maryland Nursing Home Guide, Maryland Gov.

Caring for the Mentally Ill, Newsday.gov

Continue reading "Increase in Number of Younger and Middle Aged Mentally Ill Patients in US Nursing Homes is Leading to Violent Crimes Against Elderly Residents" »

February 25, 2009

Maryland Bill Calls for Cameras in Nursing Homes

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

In Maryland, a bill currently up for consideration in the house is proposing that nursing homes in the state be required to give people the option of installing cameras if that is what the resident or family members want. The patient or his or her relatives would pay for the camera. Per the bill, any room that is monitored by a camera would have a sign on the door indicating that it is under video surveillance.

Nursing Home Cameras
There can be value to installing a camera in a nursing home patient’s room. In New York, there have been over 30 nursing home workers arrested for nursing home abuse in the wake of statewide hidden-camera investigations. In Kentucky, family members were appalled to see video footage of their 84-year-old relative being manhandled and verbally abused by workers. They hid the camera in her room because they were concerned about unexplained bruises that were on her body.

Placing a camera in the room of a nursing home resident can allow family members to monitor his or her care. Some patients are too frail or sick to communicate about any possible mistreatment. Other nursing home residents may not even be aware of their surroundings or realize that they have been the victim of abuse. There also may be residents who are afraid for their safety but are unwilling to report any incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect. If a nursing home worker knows he or she is under video surveillance, the employee may be less likely to physically abuse, verbally abuse or emotionally abuse the resident.

There are, however, critics out there who say that placing a camera in a patient’s room is an invasion of privacy for the resident. Regardless, nursing home abuse and neglect must be stopped. Too many elderly and sick people are suffering because the people charged with their care are hurting them or not giving them the medical attention that they need.

MD Bill Addresses Cameras in Nursing Homes, MSNBC, February 23, 2009

Security Cameras in Nursing Homes - Useful or Wasteful?, Ezine Articles

Related Web Resources:
Maryland Nursing Home Guide, Maryland Health Care Commission

Cuomo Announces Undercover Hidden-Camera Investigation into Long Island Nursing Home that Nets Four Healthcare Workers for Endangering Welfare of Patient, Office of the Attorney General, October 7, 2008

Continue reading "Maryland Bill Calls for Cameras in Nursing Homes" »

December 1, 2008

Unidentified ER Doctor Accuses Washington DC Nursing Home of Severe Neglect

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

According to ABC 7/NewsChannel, an emergency room doctor who wishes to remain anonymous claims that he regularly sees patients from the Grand Park Care Center who are on the verge of death due to nursing home neglect. The nursing home residence is located in Washington DC’s NE.

The ER doctor says that a number of the DC nursing home's residents have come to him with acute kidney problems, severe pneumonia, malnutrition, and dehydration. The doctor says these conditions are signs that the patients are being neglected.

Following his nursing home neglect allegations, the ABC 7/NewsChannel looked at the D.C. Department of Health’s inspection reports from February and May 2008 and found that a number of deficiencies were noted at the Grand Park Care Center, including the failure to tell a physician that a resident was suffering from dehydration. There were also residents who were reportedly suffering from anemia and weight changes.

According to DC Long Term Care Ombudsman Jerry Kasunic, his team has filed over 100 complaints against Grant Park and says the DC nursing home is one of the “worst” he has encountered. He says dehydration and unattended wound care have led to malnutrition.

Grant Park Executive Director Sandra Durham says the nursing home staff remains committed to improving the quality of service that it provides residents. The home has also reportedly retained the services of a new compliance officer and nursing home director.

Malnutrition and Dehydration
Nursing home residents suffering from malnutrition and dehydration can be prone to serious side effects and illnesses, including a weakened immune system, memory loss, pneumonia, bedsores, muscle mass loss, infection, organ function impairment, anemia, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and death. Malnutrition and dehydration often occur at care facilities because of nursing home neglect.

Doctor Gives D.C. Nursing Home Failing Grade, WJLA.com, November 26, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Grand Park Care Center, Hospital-Data.com

Washington DC Department of Health

Continue reading "Unidentified ER Doctor Accuses Washington DC Nursing Home of Severe Neglect" »

June 18, 2008

US Senate Committee To Hear Case of Family That Signed Away Right to Sue Nursing Home For Neglect

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

This week, in Washington DC, a US Senate committee is scheduled to hear about a case involving the family of William Kurth, who sustained a number of pressure ulcers and fractured his leg and up while staying at a nursing home. Kurth’s family, however, was unable to sue for nursing home negligence because Kurth’s wife, Elaine, had agreed, when admitting her husband to the home, that all complaints would go through an arbitrator.

Elaine was reportedly on medication and under extreme duress when she signed papers giving Kurth, a stroke victim, permission to stay at a nursing home. Family members say that Kurth died because urine and excrement had not been cleaned off his bedsores for several days.

Kindred Healthcare says that the Kurth family says that the arbitration agreement was offered as an option and not a condition for admission into the nursing home.

The Senate panel is investigating the nursing homes’ use of binding arbitration agreements that gets patients to sign away their right to file a nursing home abuse or negligence lawsuit. Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, who is the chairman of the Senate Aging Committee expressed concern that many residents are not in the proper state to realize that they are signing away their right to sue.

Over the past five years, over 100 lawsuits have been filed to challenge these kinds of agreements.

While some lawmakers, trial lawyers, and consumer advocacy groups want to put in place legislation that makes these agreements unenforceable, others say that the lower costs for arbitration make it easier for patients with smaller cases to receive compensation.

In Maryland and Washington DC, our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers represent families with whose loved ones have suffered because of abuse or neglect at a nursing home or residential care facility.

Patients signing away right to sue nursing homes, AP, June 17, 2008

Nursing homes prefer arbitration over courts, Azcentral.com, June 17, 2008

Related Web Resource:

Arbitration Agreements: Why They Should Be Prohibited In Admission Agreement, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform

Continue reading "US Senate Committee To Hear Case of Family That Signed Away Right to Sue Nursing Home For Neglect" »

January 21, 2008

Maryland to Close Rosewood Center After Multiple Reports of Neglect and Abuse

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Rosewood Center, a Maryland facility for the developmentally disabled located in Baltimore County, will close in the next year and a half. The decision by the state to shut down the facility comes in the wake of reports of serious cases of abuse and neglect over the past several years. The decision to shut down Rosewood was announced by Maryland’s Governor Martin O'Malley on January 15.

In December, Maryland’s Office of Health Care Quality reported 130 cases of neglect, abuse, mistreatment, and injuries at the center over an 8-week period. Unnecessary restraints, wrong medication doses, missed feedings of residents that were intubated, and assaults between residents are some of the abusive and neglectful incidents that reportedly occurred.

About 150 people live at Rosewood, which opened in 1888 as the Asylum and Training School for the Feeble Minded. At one point, the center had 3,700 residents.

Last year, however, new admissions were banned at Rosewood three times. Poor conditions at the center have placed it at risk of losing its federal funding.

In February 2007, the Maryland Disability Law Center issued a report about Rosewood that included information about injuries, neglect, and the unnecessary and lengthy isolation of some of its residents.

Workers at Rosewood claim the abuse reports are exaggerated. They worry that residents will be traumatized because they have to leave the facility. Patients will be placed in group homes or released to guardians over the next 18 months.

Nursing home abuse and Neglect
State residential homes are supposed to provide its residents with proper medical and residential care. A failure to do so violates the law and can also be grounds for a nursing home abuse lawsuit.

If you believe that someone you love has been abused or neglected while staying at a residential care facility, you should talk to a Washington D.C. or Maryland nursing home abuse law firm right away. Physical and emotional injuries and even death can result because of the abuse or neglect and the law entitles your injured loved one to nursing abuse compensation.

State to Shutter Home for Disabled, Baltimore Sun.com, January 15, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Rosewood Center: A Demand for Closure, Maryland Disability Law Center, February 1, 2007 (PDF)

Rosewood Center, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Continue reading "Maryland to Close Rosewood Center After Multiple Reports of Neglect and Abuse" »

August 28, 2007

90-Year-Old Maryland Victim of Alleged Caretaker Abuse Has Suffered Seizures Since Beatings

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

A Baltimore woman says she has video footage of the caretaker she hired to care for her 90-year-old father abusing him on at least four different occasions.

Jaki Taylor says she hired Anastasia Olouch to take care of her father John Taylor at home after he had suffered a number of strokes. Taylor says that security cameras recorded Olouch, 54, striking her father on the arm, chest, head, and stomach. John is not able to communicate or defend himself.

Police in Maryland arrested Olouch and she was indicted on multiple counts of assault, reckless endangerment, and abuse of a vulnerable adult.

Her trial was scheduled to begin on August 8 but she did not appear in court. The State Attorney’s office requested that a warrant be issued against her.

John Taylor has experienced a number of brain seizures since the arrest. Doctors say they cannot confirm whether the seizures were caused by the beatings. Jaki Taylor, however, claims that her father’s health has gotten worse since the incidents of elder abuse.

Last year, Adult Protective Services investigated close to 5,000 elder abuse cases in Maryland. More than 1,000 of the cases took place in Baltimore.

Dr. Dan Sheridan, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and a forensic nurse, says that elder abuse perpetrators tend to hit their elderly victims as a means of controlling them and that they choose older victims because they are easily confused and vulnerable.

The Senate Committee on Aging says that about 5 million incidents of elder neglect and abuse are taking place in the U.S. right now but that many of these incidents are not reported.

Professor Linda M. Woolf, from Webster University, cites a number of signs of physical abuse of the elderly:

• Overt signs of physical trauma (e.g. scratches, bruises, cuts, burns, punctures, choke marks)
• Signs of restraint trauma (e.g. rope burns, gag marks, welts)
• Injury - particularly if repeated (e.g. sprains, fractures, detached retina, dislocation, paralysis)
• Additional physical indicators - hypothermia, abnormal chemistry values, pain upon being touched
• Repeated "unexplained" injuries
• Inconsistent explanations of the injuries
• A physical examination reveals that the older person has injuries which the caregiver has failed to disclose
• A history of doctor or emergency room "shopping"
• Repeated time lags between the time of any "injury or fall" and medical treatment

Elder abuse is a crime.

A person who is the victim of elder abuse has a right to seek personal injury compensation for the injuries that they have sustained because a doctor, nurse, or caregiver acted negligently.

Woman Says Caregiver Beat Her 90-year-old Father, WLTX.com, August 16, 2007

Caught On Tape: Alleged Abuse Of 90-Year-Old, NBC10.com, August 15, 2007

Finding the Red Flags for Elder Abuse, ABC2news.com, August 24, 2007

Elder Abuse and Neglect, Webster.edu

Related Web Resources:

National Center on Elder Abuse

Elder Rights & Resources, Administration on Aging

Continue reading "90-Year-Old Maryland Victim of Alleged Caretaker Abuse Has Suffered Seizures Since Beatings " »

January 17, 2007

Maryland Woman Sues Nursing Home For Negligent Care Of Her Now-Deceased Father

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

A Maryland woman is suing the Guardian Elder Care at the Peterson Rehabilitation Hospital and Geriatric Center in Wheeling, West Virginia for nursing home negligence. Emily Kay Goddard Young filed the lawsuit in Ohio County on behalf of her father, the late Elwood M. Goddard.

In December 2004, Goddard had been living on property run that was owned by Peterson. According to the lawsuit, Goddard suffered from a number of illnesses that left him in a wheelchair and physically weak. Young says that her father was left without an attendant in a wheelchair that had a broken strap. He then proceeded to fall violently as a result.The fall caused internal and external injuries that he later died from.

Young says that it was Peterson’s responsibility to maintain, inspect, and repair the wheelchair. In the lawsuit, she claims negligence that "Peterson owed a duty to its patients ... to provide a wheelchair that was reasonable safe for its intended use and not unreasonable dangerous when put to its reasonable anticipated use." She is seeking compensatory damages to cover funeral expenses, burial costs, court fees, medical expenses, and other damages.

Two major problem in managed-care facilities that can lead to abuse in a nursing home are overcrowding and an overworked staff that is not trained properly. It is the facility’s responsibility to eliminate the opportunity for nursing home negligence by hiring professional care providers and medical workers that are trained correctly. It is also up to the facility to create a safe, caring, and sanitary environment for its residents.

The United States Congress has passed laws demanding that every state create regulations to protect nursing home residents. Nursing homes are required to follow these regulations. Nursing home negligence is a criminal and civil offense.

If a person has been a victim of nursing home negligence but they are unable to report the abuse for any reason, loved ones and family members may file the claim for them.

Indications that a person may be experiencing abuse in a nursing home:

· Ulcers
· Bed sores
· Dehydration
· Emaciation
· Injuries from falls
· Change in the resident’s personality.

If you suspect a case of negligence, it is important that you report the incident immediately. You may also want to consider moving your loved one to another facility.

Each year, thousands of senior citizens are abused, neglected and exploited in nursing homes and other elder care facilities. Many victims are frail and vulnerable and cannot help themselves, and they depend on others to meet their most basic needs.

Continue reading "Maryland Woman Sues Nursing Home For Negligent Care Of Her Now-Deceased Father" »

August 8, 2006

Sample Of Interrogatories Form Filed In Nursing Home Negligence Case

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Interrogatories are written questions sent to the opposing party in a personal injury lawsuit. Like a deposition, an interrogatory gives each side the opportunity to pose questions to the opposing party. Although the party who is served the interrogatory does not have to appear in court to respond, they are required to respond to the questions in writing as if they were under oath and under penalty of perjury.

In the state of Maryland, each party in a personal injury lawsuit can serve up to thirty interrogatories to the opposing side.

Below is a sample of an interrogatory that we, the personal injury law firm of Lebowitz and Mzhen, filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County on behalf of our client, the plaintiff, who fell down a stairwell while staying at a nursing home facility. We have redacted the names of those involved for purposes of confidentiality.

Download The Interrogatories Form Filed In A Nursing Home Negligence Case.

According to Nursinghomecare.com:

-Over 1.6 million Americans receive nursing home care.
-30 % of all nursing home care facilities commit an act of medical malpractice against their patients each year.

Nursing homes are required to care for each patient in a way that takes into account their individual needs. Each patient’s care program must include a plan that makes sure that the following injuries are prevented:

-Slip and fall-related injuries
-Injuries caused by unnecessary physical or chemical restraint

Each year, thousands of senior citizens are abused, neglected, and exploited in nursing homes and other elder care facilities.

If you are a concerned relative or friend of an elderly person that you believe is suffering from nursing home abuse or nursing home negligence in the State of Maryland or the Washington, D.C. area, we'd like to hear from you. Please contact Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen by e-mail or toll free at 1-888-311-HURT (4878) to set up a FREE, no obligation consultation.

Related Web Resource: