October 19, 2003
Nursing home abuse owner criminal prosecution appears to be
on the rise
Federal official believe inadequate staffing is
the biggest cause of nursing home abuse neglect in facilities. The
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that 9 out of
10 nursing homes employ too few workers to provide adequate care,
and over 40% of all homes need to increase their nurse aide staff
by at least 50%.
Congress is considering legislation that would
establish federal criminal penalties for nursing home abuse and
neglect. If convicted, it could result in prison terms for individuals,
in addition to corporate fines of up to $3 million. The nursing
home abuse and neglect bill would also require the homes immediately
report any reasonable suspicion of a crime to law enforcement officials.
According to a member of the National Citizens’
Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, criminal prosecution of nursing
home abuse owners appears to be increasing.
Recent nursing home abuse cases include:
Florida Nursing Home Abuse:
In September 2003, owners of the Jewish Senior Living home in West
Palm Beach were charged with eight counts of nursing home abuse
neglect. Just days before that, owners in Riviera Beach were arrested
and charged with three counts of neglect.
Georgia Nursing Home Abuse:
In February 2003, an owner of a nursing home pleaded guilty to 15
counts of nursing home abuse and neglect. She was sentenced to 15
years probation and 500 hours of community service.
Hawaii Nursing Home Abuse:
In 2002, prosecutors got a manslaughter conviction against a nursing
home after a resident died of septic shock because bedsore infections
had continued to go untreated.
Louisiana Nursing Home Abuse:
Owners of a nursing home agreed to pay $750,000 and to quit the
nursing home business for seven years after federal prosecutors
considered criminal charges because an 87-year old woman was strangled
by a wheelchair seat belt.
Michigan Nursing Home Abuse:
In April 2003, a Detroit nursing home medical director and nursing
director were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the heat-related
death of a resident. The prosecutors alleged the nursing home lacked
air condition and fans and the windows would not open.
Missouri Nursing Home Abuse:
In February 2003, a nursing home management company president was
sentenced to a year in prison for failing to report the beating
death of a nursing home resident. In August 2003, another home manager
was charged with involuntary manslaughter in a mentally disabled
nursing home resident’s death.
New York Nursing Home Abuse:
At the start of October 2003, a New York nursing home chain agreed
to pay the state $3 million to settle claims that the homes failed
to provide adequate care to nursing home patients. By agreeing to
settle the claims of nursing home abuse, the owners were able to
avoid criminal charges that had come from a grand jury investigation
after reports of testimony of nursing home employees.
In June 2003, the Hallmark Nursing Centre chain
pleaded guilty to criminal charges, including inadequate care, falsification
of patient files, and deliberately employing too few caregivers
to meet resident needs leading the New York nursing home owners
to agree to refrain from operating any New York nursing homes.
September 2, 2003 BREAKING
Increase in nursing home abuse lawsuits
indicate the push for change
In the past, finding a nursing home abuse lawyer to accept a case
was tough for families wanting to get justice for the abuse their
loved ones had endured, or tragically had not endured. The increase
in nursing home abuse lawsuits is not due to “sue happy”
people rather the knowledge that a high incidence of nursing home
abuse is occurring and families want immediate changes to be made.
The uncovering of a nationwide problem of how elders
are treated in care facilities has resulted in nursing home abuse
being on the forefront of many lawmakers priority lists to change.
The high number of baby boomers next to be the ones to have to deal
with nursing home care first hand is large. As one nursing home
abuse victim’s family stated, “I sued to get them to
treat nursing home patients better. We’ve got to make it better
for the next generation: ours,” (boston.com 9/2/03).
The largest nursing home abuse jury verdict
was awarded to a Texas family in 2001. The son of a woman sued after
nursing home abuse neglect was so severe that she suffered 16 bed
sores, including some bed sores so bad that they penetrated to the
bone. Initially awarded $312 million, the family agreed to accept
$20 million in settlement to stop the appeal process that the nursing
home had been planning. For more information on nursing home abuse
contact us to confer
with a nursing home abuse lawyer.
June 9, 2003
Nursing home location determines likelihood of abuse. A
Gannett News Service (GNS) investigation on the nation’s nursing
homes has concluded that depending on what areas of the nation is
very dependent on the type of care that the elders can expect to
receive. Most instances of the most severe nursing home abuse reports
over the past four years have occurred in about 12 concentrated
states. In addition, the for-profit nursing homes were found to
have more instances of nursing home abuse occurrences than nonprofit
and government nursing homes.
The GNS findings have come from four-months of
investigation, including interviewing and analysis of four years
worth of federal data on 16,000 of the nation’s nursing homes.
Based on the findings, the nation’s solution for putting an
end to the nursing home abuse reports holding 1.5 million elders
will not come easily. Individual states and the nation as a whole
are currently trying to pass new bills that will better ensure nursing
home abuse come to an end.
Consumer advocates have stated that the GNS results
are not surprising. Repeat violations of nursing home abuse has
been a contributing factor to the high nursing home abuse incidence,
and despite new quality and information efforts supplemented by
years of legislation and regulation to protect residents, far too
many people are being adversely affected by nursing home abuse.
The 12 states that were found to have the highest number of severe
and repeated violations from 1999-2003 include:
- Texas nursing home abuse
- Illinois nursing home abuse
- Arkansas nursing home abuse
- Washington nursing home abuse
- New Jersey nursing home abuse
- Kansas nursing home abuse
- Missouri nursing home abuse
- Indiana nursing home abuse
- Oklahoma nursing home abuse
- North Carolina nursing home abuse
- Mississippi nursing home abuse
- Tennessee nursing home abuse
Some instances of the nursing home abuse
indicated widespread problems in care. Please contact
us to confer with a nursing home abuse attorney.
Cap on Alabama nursing home abuse wrongful deaths. The
House of Representatives for wrongful death Alabama nursing home
abuse lawsuits approved a $1.5 million damage cap. The Alabama nursing
home abuse cap is now at the top of the propose work agenda’s
in the House, but the Senate will need to agree with the House changes.
As expected, nursing homes did support the bill and consumer advocacy
groups and individual victims felt that caps will not provide justice.
For instances of serious and sever Alabama
nursing home abuse cases, the $1.5 million cap may not even cover
medical bills and treatment, causing additional suffering. According
to the Alabama Watch director, “When you place caps on these
awards, you’re telling senior citizens that their lives are
of little value.”
March 6, 2003
Risks of nursing home abuse are still considered to be on the rise.
The head of the Elder Safe program at the Washington County Sheriff’s
Office has seen the number of nursing home abuse cases referred
to the district attorney’s office drastically increase. Since
experts estimate that eight out of 10 instances of nursing home
abuse are not reported, the outlook looks bleak.
March 6, 2003
State senators reject proposals to allow video cameras in nursing
home facilities. In order to prevent more instances of nursing home
abuse or nursing home neglect, some people thought amending House
Bill 1077 by allowing “granny cams” could be beneficial,
however State senators rejected the proposal. Instead, the House
Bill 1077 will strengthen procedures used for background checks
and for health care workers. Many of the nation’s nursing
home abuse problems have stemmed from improper nursing home employees
that often times had previous record of abuse at other facilities
but were still hired. Currently, the Health Department can take
weeks or months to complete background checks and the House Bill
amendment is headed to conference so that the legislation can be
February 19, 2003
House approves controversial bill limiting jury awards against nursing
home abuse. The House approved a controversial bill in Arkansas
that would limit jury awards against nursing homes. The bill was
asked to not be sent immediately to the Senate in order to allow
any consideration of further amendments. If passed, the bill would
limit punitive damages to $1 million and has a provision that would
require lawyers to prove that a specific act was committed against
their client. Some House members against the bill felt that it “strikes
a blow at the absolute weakest among us” and that it is “fundamentally
wrong and unfair.”
February 18, 2003
Nursing homes request a lid be put on nursing home abuse lawsuit
awards. Nursing home facilities claim that with the additional insurance
premiums they are unable to pay for the hefty jury awarded sum due
to instances of nursing home abuse. The nursing homes want a lid
on jury awards given to the injured and neglected patients. This
has angered elderly advocate groups that argue the nursing home
abuse civil suits are the only protection that many states offer
victims of nursing home abuse. While laws put into place in certain
states are intended to better protect victims of nursing home abuse,
nursing homes think that they make them lawsuit targets.
Advocates argue the other side noting estimates
have shown according to a U.S. General Accounting Office report,
over 30% of nursing home have been cited for such serious violations
that residents were harmed or were put in immediate jeopardy. Advocates
think that nursing homes are using the increase in insurance rates
as a means to destroy the elder-abuse protection act. Pursuing a
nursing home abuse lawsuit is already an expensive and difficult
legal battle to fight according to advocates and judges reduce most
big jury judgments.
May 28, 2002
Nursing home abuse has become an increasingly large problem
in this nation identified by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft
as "one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S." Recently,
the Senate Aging Committee chairman wanted to have criminal background
checks from nursing home workers and expanded powers for the government
to try to reduce the high number of reported nursing home abuse
incidents that occur on a widespread scale. Senator John Breaux
feels that, "we have an obligation to protect the fastest-growing
segment of the population" when proposing his legislation at
a hearing on financial exploitation of older people.
An expansive investigation has found increasing
nursing home abuse and has found that as many as four out of five
nursing home abuse incidents go unreported in addition to the over
half a million nursing home abuse cases that are reported to state
adult protection agencies. Breaux attributes nursing home abuse
problems, in part, to the fact there is no federal worker whose
full-time job is to protect seniors from abuse and that "no
one really is in charge of this area." A survey that is currently
underway has found 375,000 instances of nursing home abuse occurs
every year, and this survey has only included the numbers from 24
of the states that have reported so far.
Breaux's proposed bill would include:
August 8, 2001
- Create new offices in the Justice and
Health and Human Services departments that would help conduct
the background checks, coordinate government programs, issue reports
and aid in training law enforcement.
- Require long-term care facilities to immediately
report suspected crimes to law enforcement, with fines for noncompliance
ranging up to $100,000.
- Mandate criminal background checks for
all staff members in long-term care facilities.
- Make facilities receiving federal payments
give a 45-day notice to regulators before shutting down and abandoning
- Seek training of bank personnel to recognize
when something is amiss in an elderly person's account.
- Create a federal information center on
elder abuse, with a Web site to educate the public.
A congressional report was released showing numerous reports of serious
physical, sexual, and verbal nursing home abuse
among the nation's nursing homes. The study was prepared by
the minority (Democratic and Independent) staff of the Special Investigations
Division of the House Government Reform Committee. The report also
found that 30 percent of nursing homes in the U.S., including 5,283
facilities, were cited for about 9,000 instances of abuse over a recent
two-year period from January 1999 to January 2001. Common instances
of nursing home abuse included untreated bedsores, inadequate medical
care, malnutrition, dehydration, preventable accidents, and inadequate
sanitation and hygiene.
July 30, 2001
A common feeling amongst elders in the U.S. is the dread of living
in a nursing home. Eighty-three percent of elderly Americans would
stay in their homes until the end if they could, and thirty percent
say they would rather die than reside in a nursing home. The fear
of living in a nursing home is not surprising after nursing home
inspection documents showed that more than a quarter of American
nursing homes were repeatedly cited for serious violations that
caused death or injury to patients. California showed a third of
the nursing homes were cited for causing serious harm or death to
April 23, 2001
A growing challenge facing the nation is the effectiveness at preventing
the problem of nursing home abuse that has become far too
common. Forty out of fifty states now have task
forces to address the issue of nursing home abuse that has continued
to worsen as the demand for nursing homes continues to increase.
An assistant professor of public policy, Susan Eaton, has studied
the link between human resource personnel management and the quality
of patient care in nursing homes. Eaton attributes the quality problems
to under staffing and poor management practices.
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August 3, 1998
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A written statement that was provided to the Senate
Special Committee on Aging described a nursing home resident
that while suffering a degenerative brain disease was found with
bruises, bedsores and a broken pelvis within months after
her 1995 arrival at the Orangetree Convalescent Hospital by her
daughter. The daughter was quoted as saying in her official account
that "She always seemed to be starving or begging for water."
The nursing home resident died after reports showed she had choked
on her food, but the daughter planned on telling the committee that
her mother was supposed to be fed through a tube. The nursing home
denied any wrongdoing.