Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence

The rapidly spreading coronavirus (the virus) has highlighted the glaring issues that Americans face when they are medically fragile or experience poverty. Many of these individuals and their families have suffered serious health and financial tolls because of the virus. Although the virus has wrought havoc on people across the socioeconomic and health spectrum, those residing in Washington D.C. nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, prisons, and shelters have suffered at alarming rates. The disparity in the number of cases at these facilities may be due to many factors; however, one common denominator is the lack of effective personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees and residents. The government provides these industries with protection from lawsuits for negligence claims related to their conduct during the crisis; however, there are limitations to this protection.

Although the country understands that these companies seek to help individuals survive the crisis, some situations may warrant a lawsuit. For example, one national news source described the harrowing accounts of healthcare workers who received shipments of outdated, ineffective PPE during a critical time. According to reports, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided some nursing homes with shipments of PPE; however, the shipments included loose gloves, masks made from underwear, and isolation gowns without openings. Regulators advised these facilities not to use the equipment, because they may present an infection-management risk. FEMA explained that the equipment met federal industry standards, but asked the private contractor to provide replacement equipment. They also claimed that the majority of their shipments were met without complaint.

Ineffective PPE, faulty medical devices, and unsafe drugs can take a devastating and potentially fatal toll on those that rely on the efficacy of these products. The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act), affords the manufacturers and suppliers of these products with broad protection against lawsuits. However, the entities evoking protection must be a covered business, supply covered countermeasure products, and be engage in covered activities.

The family of a woman whose body was found in the stairwell of a San Francisco hospital weeks after she went missing from her hospital bed has filed a legal claim with the city, indicating their intention to file a lawsuit. The claim is a mandatory prerequisite to a lawsuit against city and county agencies. The family’s claim alleges medical malpractice, negligence, dangerous property conditions, and violations of the state elder abuse and adult dependency statute. Hospital workers have accused the hospital of serious understaffing, to the point that it compromises patient safety. The hospital has announced two rounds of changes to its security procedures as a result of the incident, including access controls, patient checks, and a missing patient policy.

The decedent, 57 year-old Lynn Spalding Ford, checked into San Francisco General Hospital on September 19, 2013. On September 21, a hospital worker reported her missing. The worker allegedly described Spalding, who is white, as a black woman, and some hospital paperwork described her as Asian. The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department (SFSD), which handles hospital security, searched the hospital perimeter but did not classify Spalding as missing. Surveillance footage was not available to authorities until October 4. The hospital did not ask SFSD to search the entire 24-acre hospital campus until September 30, after Spalding had been missing for nine days. The search did not include all of the stairwells.

On October 4, a hospital employee reported a person lying on the 3rd- or 4th-floor stairwell of Stairwell 8. A fifth-floor employee reported hearing banging from Stairwell 8 the same day. There is no indication that anyone searched that stairwell in response to these reports. An employee with the hospital’s engineering department finally found Spalding’s body during a routine check of an exterior stairwell on October 8. Spalding had been missing for seventeen days. Both the hospital and SFSD said that the stairwell is alarmed, only exits to the first floor, and is only used as a fire exit. The medical examiner listed her cause of death as dehydration and alcoholism complications, but could not say for certain when she died.

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The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia partly granted and partly denied a motion to dismiss brought by the defendant in a lawsuit alleging failure to supervise a group home resident. Colbert, et al v. District of Columbia, et al, No. 1:13-cv-00531, opinion (D.D.C., Dec. 13, 2013). The plaintiff sued the District of Columbia and a private contractor operating a group home, asserting various tort claims and a constitutional claim after her daughter, a developmentally disabled woman, became pregnant while in the custody of the District. The court declined to dismiss the suit outright, but it dismissed the constitutional claim without prejudice, giving the plaintiff an opportunity to amend her complaint. If the court dismisses that claim with prejudice, it may lose subject matter jurisdiction over the remaining claims based on DC law.

The plaintiff’s daughter, identified in the court’s opinion as KC, was hospitalized at the District’s request in the fall of 2008. A psychological assessment determined that KC needed 24/7 care and supervision, so she went to live at a group home operated by a contractor, Total Care Services, Inc. According to the plaintiff, KC had a history of sexual abuse and neglect, a history of failing to take her medication consistently, and mental impairment.

Total Care and the District were aware of KC’s history and how it affected her condition, the plaintiff claims, but they allegedly allowed her to have unprotected and nonconsensual sex with multiple individuals. The plaintiff does not appear to claim that any employee of either Defendant participated in sexual activity with KC. KC became pregnant and gave birth to a girl named TC, who was born prematurely in April 2011. The plaintiff was awarded sole custody of TC, but she was born with significant health problems and required frequent surgeries and hospitalization. TC died nine days after her first birthday.

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Our Washington DC nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers regularly publish blog posts on the problem of physical and emotional abuse suffered by elderly persons at assisted living facilities and under the watch of private caregivers. Now, here is one about the problem of elder financial abuse, which, according to a study put out by MetLife Mature Market Institute (along with the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse), is costing $3 billion in losses each year.

Elderly persons often rely on their savings to support themselves and take care of their medical and nursing needs. Unfortunately, there are those who may take advantage of these older senior’s advanced age and possibly fragile mental and physical conditions to take their money from them. Possible perpetrators of DC elder financial abuse can include caregivers, family, friends, neighbors, and scam artists pitching financial products.

The study says that:
• Women are two times more likely to become victims of elder financial abuse.
• Most victims live alone and are in their 80’s.

• The holidays are when victims are most vulnerable.

This crime is seriously under-reported. Many victims are ashamed that they’ve allowed elder financial abuse to occur and they also may be afraid that they could lose their independence if the crime is revealed.

When elderly persons are bilked of their finances, this can make it hard for them to take care of themselves and get the nursing and medical care that they need. It can also lead to depression and the deterioration of one’s health.

Actor Mickey Rooney Granted Court Protection From Stepkids, Good Morning America, February 17, 2011
Elder financial abuse reaches “epidemic” proportion, Reuters, June 3, 2011

Related Web Resources:

MetLife Mature Market Institute

Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech

More Blog Posts:

Nursing Home Aide Receives Prison Sentence for Sexual Abuse, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, May 31, 2011
French Family Plans Lawsuit in Quadrangle ‘Nanny Cam’ Nursing Home Abuse Case, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, May 26, 2011
Washington DC Nursing Home Neglect Can Cause Bedsores, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, January 31, 2011

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Our Washington DC nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers represent patients who have suffered serious illnesses and injuries at assisted living facilities. Unfortunately, one condition that we see and hear about way too often is bedsores (also known as decubitus ulcers or pressure sores). Many of the people we’ve represented who had bedsores didn’t have to develop this condition if only they’d receive the proper nursing care.

While a bedsore might sound like a mild sore, it can deteriorate to the point that infection, organ damage or death can result. The fact that bedsores can occur and are preventable is not news to anyone in the nursing home industry, so why, then, are so many patients still developing them? This is unacceptable, and if you or your loved one has pressure sores because he/she did not receive the proper nursing home care, then there is a good chance that you have grounds for a Washington DC nursing home negligence case.

Common causes of bedsores at assisted living facilities:
• Failure to regularly reposition/turn a patient in his/her bed
• Lack of mobility
• Prolonged pressure on one part of the body
• Dehydration
• Malnutrition
• Allowing a patient to sit in soiled bed sheets
• Letting moisture stay close to a resident’s skin for too long
• Failure to change wet diapers
• Inexperienced nursing staff
• Understaffing
• Failure to identify and treat bedsores

Bedsores can become extremely painful and debilitating. There is no reason why a patient should not get the appropriate nursing home care that would prevent pressure sores from developing.

Related Web Resources:
Nursing Home Directory, District of Columbia Department of Health
Bedsores, MayoClinic

Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

More Blog Posts:

Psychiatric Report Says U.S. Needs to Prepare for Increase of Elderly Dementia, Maryland Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, June 8, 2011
Dementia Patient’s Wandering Leads to Death—Nursing Home Fined $20K for Negligence, Maryland Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, June 6, 2011
Florida Nursing Homes Investigated for Severe Abuse and Negligence, Maryland Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, June 3, 2011

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A class action complaint has been filed in federal court against the District of Columbia. The lawsuit contends that over 500 (possibly even up to 2,900 disabled) residents have been unnecessarily institutionalized against their own wishes because the city has failed to provide adequate community housing care alternatives. The lawsuit, filed by disability rights advocates, contends that the city is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In 2007, the District was given a federal grant of over $26 million to move 1,100 disabled people and seniors from DC nursing homes. While 73 people have been transferred out of institutional settings, patients have not yet been transferred out of nursing homes. According to advocates, city agencies and nursing home staffs have failed to notify residents that they have other living options.

Nursing Home Negligence

Today marks the end of National Nursing Home Week. The week honors nursing home workers, professionals, residents, volunteers, and family members for their contributions to their communities.

National Nursing Home Week was established by the American Health Care Association. Last month, Representative Michael Arcuri (D-NY) introduced Resolution 1291, which supports the designated week. This year’s theme has been “Enriching Every Day.” Our Washington DC nursing home neglect and abuse law firm wants to honor those who do everything to make assisted living facility residents’ lives easier and more enjoyable.

Visiting Your Loved One at a Nursing Home

It is important to visit your family member once they’ve moved into the assisted living facility. Not only will you be giving him/her emotional support and maintaining your connection with each other, but also physically going to the assisted living facility will allow you to take part in your relative’s care.

The offers a number of recommendations for activities you can engage in when visiting a nursing home:

• Talk to your loved one
• Watch his/her body language for signs of loneliness, depression, abuse or neglect
• Take any complaints seriously
• Help the patient with leg or arm exercises
• Go for a walk together on the grounds or up and down the hall
• Bring gifts, such as flowers, mementos, family photos, or favorite foods
• Listen to music together
• Help with letter writing
• Share a meal together
• Check in with staff members about your loved one’s care
• Look around to make sure that the nursing home is still the kind of place where you feel comfortable letting your loved one live

Your physical presence also makes staff members aware that you are watching out for your loved one and monitoring their care and well-being. If you suspect Washington DC nursing home abuse your neglect, you may want to consider immediately removing your loved one from the assisted living facility.

AHCA Praises House Support for National Nursing Home Week, AHCA, April 23, 2010
Visiting in the Adult or Nursing Home, The Ribbon
Related Web Resources:

Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

Nursing Home Directory, District of Columbia Department of Health

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According to the latest figures, over 35 million people in the world are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. This estimate is about 10% more than what scientists projected several years ago.

One reason for the underestimation was that the increase in Alzheimer’s in developing countries had not been fully evaluated. Now, however, there are enough people in poorer nations living long enough for dementia to kick in. By 2050, the World Alzheimer Report says that some 115.4 million people will be suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Age, diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol can increase the chances that a person may develop Alzheimer’s. In North America, the Alzheimer’s Association of the US says that over 5 million people are suffering from the disease. One in every eight people in the 65 and above age group and almost one in every two people in the over 85 age range has Alzheimer’s.

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,, November 26, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Grand Park Care Center,
Washington DC Department of Health

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