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Nursing Home High-Risk Times

When an elderly person is admitted to a nursing home, there are several periods of time that are higher-risk for injury than other periods.  This phenomenon has been studied and documented by numerous researchers.  One study by Doupe et. al. (2011) titled "Nursing Home Adverse Events: Further Insight to Highest Risk Periods" talked about some of these situations.  For example, some of the highest-risk periods including the following times and situations:

-New residents account for a disproportionately high percentage of nonhip fractures and bedsores
-Hospitalized falls, hip fractures, and respiratory infections are most common immediately before resident death
-Skin ulcers are most likely for new nursing home residents coming from a hospital; this is independent of mobility 

All in all, transition periods, either just being admitted to a nursing home or in the late stages of life immediately preceding death, are the high-risk periods for nursing home residents.  New nursing home residents transferred from hospitals pose an even higher risk for some conditions.  Applying this knowledge, if someone you know has been recently admitted into a nursing home, the first three months are critical to monitor for any changing conditions or health issues.  If you feel that your loved one needs more care than they are currently being given by the nursing home staff, you may need to discuss changes in your relative's individualized care plan.  


Attorney Doug Stoehr is a central Pennsylvania lawyer who takes caes for victims of nursing home abuse and negligence.  For more information on his practice, please call his firm at 814-946-4100.

Tort Reform in Nursing Home Negligence Cases

In the past few years, there has been some backlash against personal injury attorneys and their lawsuits against nursing homes and hospitals.  One such article, written in a large healthcare magazine, even went so far as to suggest that some attorneys use understaffing of workers as an excuse to create lawsuits for cases that would not otherwise be valid.  These same writers are arguing for tort reform, which would also put a cap on awards for injury or negligence.  They argue that, if there was a cap on awards in the state of Pennsylvania, there would be fewer legal claims and nursing homes may be able to use more workers. They also noted that arbitration decreases the projected expense and awards of cases.


These facts are not completely accurate.  Arbitration does NOT decrease the expense and value of claims in all cases; in fact, they may increase the awards from claims in some cases.  Additionally, nursing home cases are not as "easy to prove" as these proponents of tort reform would make you believe.  Nursing home cases can be difficult to prove, as well as time-consuming. Therefore, the implications that most nursing home negligence cases are easy to prove and will most likely result in large awards are inaccurate.


Understaffing is also a significant and problematic issue in many large nursing homes, and that should not be belittled or explained away.  When nursing homes are seriously understaffed, the residents may seriously suffer or injure themselves as a result. In our law office, we have seen understaffing result in very serious injury, such as untreated bed sores and slip-and-falls that result in significant and lasting problems.  Articles such as the one described above are written with a definite slant, so be a critical and thoughtful reader when browsing articles.


Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer practicing in the western and central Pennsylvania region.  For more information on his firm, please call his office at 814-946-4100.

Nursing Home Wrongful Death Suit in PA

Recently, a Philadelphia-area nursing home is under fire for supposedly contributing to a wrongful death case.  The death, which is thought to be due negligence on the part of the nursing home staff, came after a series of illnesses which affected an elderly woman in the home's case. The wrongful death lawsuit claims that the resident needed 24 hour care, due to a history of trouble walking, dementia, and other issues.  However, she was still was often found on her floor in her bedroom of the nursing home unattended, and it was clear that she had fallen.  Eventually, the resident had a fall that was so severe that she had to go to the emergency room.  Upon returning to the nursing home, she was placed in hospice care and passed away about two months after her accident.  


Many allegations against nursing homes and assisted living facilities stem from reports of elder abuse and neglect. Elder abuse can come in many forms, not just physical abuse.  Many common instances of elder abuse include emotional, financial, psychological, and neglect.  If you feel that a loved one has been a victim of elder abuse, please contact Attorney Doug Stoehr to set up a free consultation.  Attorney Stoehr has experience and knowledge pertaining to elder abuse legal claims, and will work hard to fight for the rights of your family or friend. Call his office at 814-946-4100 to set up your consultation.  


Read more about the case here:
http://pennrecord.com/stories/511079533-yeadon-nursing-home-hit-with-wrongful-death-lawsuit

Nursing Home Residents Have Trouble In Hospitals

It is not uncommon for elderly nursing home residents to be in poor health or in need of medical assistance. In some of these situations, an emergency room visit may be essential for that patient.  However, an emergency room visit may also lead to infection in the nursing home later on.

An article published by University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine recently explored this phenomenon.  According to the article, an ER visit may lead to 3x risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections for nursing home residents.  Within the nursing home setting, the rate acute respiratory or GI infections was at 5% within a week of an emergency department visit as opposed to 2% when not the resident did not leave the long-term care facility.  After accounting for other variables, residents at such homes were actually 3.9x more likely to acquire an infection following a trip to the emergency department.  One researcher is also quoted as saying, "If they acquire an infection while in the emergency department, these residents may be the source of an outbreak upon return to their facility".


All in all, hospital visits from a nursing home lead to high-risk periods for all of the nursing home residents once the sick person returns.  New nursing home residents transferred from hospitals may pose an even higher risk for an outbreak of illness within the facility. 

Applying this knowledge, if someone you know has been recently admitted into a nursing home from a hospital, has recently been to the hospital, or has friends in the nursing home that have just returned from the hospital, it will be crucial to monitor those people for any changing conditions or health issues.  If you feel that your loved one needs more care than they are currently being given by the nursing home staff, you may need to discuss changes with the nursing home employees.  


Attorney Doug Stoehr is a central Pennsylvania lawyer specializing in nursing home abuse and negligence.  For more information on his practice and to consult him about your potential medical claim, pleaes call his office at 814-946-4100. 

Auditors Reveal Nursing Home Complaints in PA

Sometimes, audits bring up things you would never believe.  According to TribLive.com, an auditor for the Pennsylvania Department of Health discovered that the department refused to accept anonymous complaints against nursing homes for almost three years.  Halting these complaints violates federal policy, and also potentially puts many elderly residents into harm's way.   There was no rationale discovered for halting these reports. According to the TribLive article, "Complaints increased 63 percent after the agency rescinded the policy of not accepting anonymous complaints, the audit said."  Many other interesting facts were discovered in the audit, including not enforcing certain laws requiring a set number of direct nursing services for residents each day. 


Elder abuse complaints can come in many forms, not just physical abuse.  Other, equally as damaging forms, of elder abuse can occur in settings such as nursing homes or hospitals.  Mental and psychological abuse, as well as financial and sexual abuse occur all too often to the elderly population.  If you feel that a loved one has been a victim of elder abuse, please contact Attorney Doug Stoehr to set up a free consultation.  Attorney Stoehr has experience and knowledge pertaining to elder abuse legal claims, and will work hard to fight for the rights of your family or friend. Call his office at 814-946-4100 to set up your consultation.  

Douglas V. Stoehr practices personal injury law in Duncansville and Altoona, Pennsylvania. He serves clients throughout western and central Pennsylvania, including Duncansville, Hollidaysburg, Altoona, Huntingdon, State College, Johnstown, Clearfield, Tyrone, Ebensburg, Northern Cambria, Portage, Windber, Carrolltown, Gallitzin, Saxton, Bellefonte, Centre Hall, Pine Grove Mills, Warriors Mark, Spruce Creek, Roaring Spring, Bellwood, Claysburg, Blue Knob, Lewistown, Mount Union, Belleville, McConnellsburg, Breezewood, Williamsburg, Windber, Punxsutawney Martinsburg, Somerset, Philipsburg, Everett, Williamsport, Cumberland, Oakland, Indiana, St. Mary's, Blair County, Cambria County, Huntingdon County, Clearfield County, Mifflin County, Jefferson County, Huntington County, Centre County, Bedford County, Somerset County and Fulton County.

To read the original article and to learn more about the audit in its entirety, please click here:
http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/10850267-74/depasquale-complaints-agency

Just How Common Are Nursing Home Falls?

The possibility that a resident of a nursing home may fall is a very real, serious danger.  Every year approximately 1,800 senior citizens living in nursing homes die from fall-related injuries.  To illustrate this point a little further, the CDC has compiled numbers that are shocking, to say the least.  Only about 5% of adults 65 or older live in a nursing home, but nursing home residents account for about 20% of deaths from falls in this age group.  A resident in a nursing home typically falls more than once, with the average resident having about 2.6 falls per year. 

A fall in a nursing home can be caused by any number of reasons, but the most common include:

1)    muscle weakness and walking problems account for approximately 24% of falls;

2)    environmental hazards like wet floors and incorrect bed height cause 16% to 27% of falls; and

3)    poorly fitting shoes and improperly used walking aids round out the list. 

Falls can be prevented with a combination of treatment, rehabilitation and environmental changes.  Nursing homes are required by law to supervise their residents and provide assistive devices to prevent falls from occurring.  However, as the statistics make clear, falls continue to be a constant threat to nursing home residents, and sometimes those falls can be attributed to the nursing home's negligence.   

If you believe that you or a loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect contact us.  These claims are complicated and challenging, and you need a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer to evaluate your claim.  We have seen the pain caused by this form of nursing home neglect and are prepared to answer your questions.  So if you or a family member is suffering from a recent fall contact Attorney Douglas V. Stoehr  at (814) 946-4100, or go to our website at www.stoehrlaw.com. 

Throwback Thursday: What Are Standards Of Care?

What exactly ARE nursing home standards of care? How do they affect your loved ones in nursing homes? What legal rights do you have in this regard? Read more through this week's Throwback Thursday blog post!

Standards of care in nursing homes is an area that many do not fully understand.  Most people unfamiliar with nursing home practices or the health profession assume that the care they hear about is common, standard practice.  Unfortunately, some of the cases people hear about is actually below the official standards of care.  

 

Standards of care established by nursing homes is the minimum level of care a patient should expect to receive in that institution.  Fortunately, some nursing homes treat patients at a level above their mandated standards of care.  On the other side of that statement, many patients also regularly receive care that is below the minimums set by the applicable federal and state regulations.  Furthermore, because so many nursing homes deliver substandard care, they tend to rationalize their choices by comparing themselves to other nursing homes in the area (who are also tending to deliver substandard care). Obviously this is negligence and will lead to injuries.  

 


In addition to not meeting standards of care as a whole throughout the facility, other factors need to also be considered.  For example, the minimum standard of care from one patient to the next may be very different on a day-to-day basis.  A wheelchair-bound resident may need more care daily than a fully mobile resident might need; however, they are both held to the same, general standards of care.  All nursing homes must have individual care plans for every resident to meet these varying needs, but they should also be aware that these care plans need to meet minimum standards of care for the overall facility.  With this in mind, it is important to research the many options available to your family if you are deciding to put a loved one into a nursing home. By gaining the most information possible, you can make the best decision to avoid elder abuse and substandard care.

 

Substandard care in a nursing home often leads to neglect and injuries.  Nursing home litigation is a relatively new field of negligence law.  We suggest you consult with an attorney who understands the complex federal and state regulations that apply to care plans in nursing homes.    For more information on Attorney Doug Stoehr and his central Pennsylvania law firm, please visit our website  or call us at (814) 946-4100.

Nursing Home Investigation Continues in PA

Do you remember our earlier blog posts about the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office suing many PA nursing homes that are owned by Golden Living Centers?  Well, the numbers of the nursing homes being investigated are continuing to grow.  Check out the latest reports of horrendous elder abuse and neglect coming from this state-wide investigation. 
According to a news report by ABC27.com, the Golden Living chain is under accusations of leaving their residents without adequate food and water, and residing in filthy living conditions.  Some of the Golden Living centers that have recently come under investigation were not part of the original lawsuit, but were added to the list after people called in and complained about the conditions in the other facilities.  One person within the news article mentioned that she didn't feel safe with the standard of care that her father, a Golden Living resident, was receiving.  She noted that staff members did not always respond to patient alarms, and the facility in which he resided generally appeared run down.  Another report stated that a woman who was visiting her mother found maggots infesting one of her wounds. There are 36 Golden Living centers in Pennsylvania, and as of this blog post, it appears that 25 of them are currently undergoing investigation by the state. 
Some of the information released by the PA Attorney General's office include reports of residents left to sit in their own feces, staff members who are falsifying medical records, and a lack of response to emergency calls.  In response, Golden Living released this statement to abc27: "Golden Living remains confident that the claims made by the Attorney General are baseless and wholly without merit. All of our living centers are in compliance with legal requirements as determined by the two agencies that have oversight of our industry."
Many allegations against nursing homes and assisted living facilities stem from reports of elder abuse and neglect. Elder abuse can come in many forms, not just physical abuse.  Many common instances of elder abuse include emotional, financial, psychological, and neglect.  If you feel that a loved one has been a victim of elder abuse, please contact Attorney Doug Stoehr to set up a free consultation.  Attorney Stoehr has experience and knowledge pertaining to elder abuse legal claims, and will work hard to fight for the rights of your family or friend. Call his office at 814-946-4100 to set up your consultation.  
Douglas V. Stoehr practices personal injury law in Duncansville and Altoona, Pennsylvania. He serves clients throughout western and central Pennsylvania, including Duncansville, Hollidaysburg, Altoona, Huntingdon, State College, Johnstown, Clearfield, Tyrone, Ebensburg, Northern Cambria, Portage, Windber, Carrolltown, Gallitzin, Saxton, Bellefonte, Centre Hall, Pine Grove Mills, Warriors Mark, Spruce Creek, Roaring Spring, Bellwood, Claysburg, Blue Knob, Lewistown, Mount Union, Belleville, McConnellsburg, Breezewood, Williamsburg, Windber, Punxsutawney Martinsburg, Somerset, Philipsburg, Everett, Williamsport, Cumberland, Oakland, Indiana, St. Mary's, Blair County, Cambria County, Huntingdon County, Clearfield County, Mifflin County, Jefferson County, Huntington County, Centre County, Bedford County, Somerset County and Fulton County.

Many PA Nursing Homes Being Investigated by State Attorney General

What kind of nursing home care are your parents and grandparents receiving?  Hopefully, their care is the result of an attentive, educated staff that cares about their mental and physical health.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  Prominently in the news recently, one national nursing home operator is in hot water for some allegations of substandard care in their homes.  Golden Living, a nursing facility provider group, has about 300 homes in over 20 states.  Those facilities total over 30,000 beds!  They are also currently under fire here in Pennsylvania and are being investigated by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office.  25 facilities in Pennsylvania (out of 36 total Golden Living properties in PA) are currently being examined by the AG's office because they "failed to provide basic services to residents, falsified care records, deceived state Department of Health inspectors and left facilities understaffed".  Since July, when the original lawsuit was filed, there have been over 350 complaints file in Pennsylvania alone. 
Elder abuse can come in many forms, not just physical abuse.  Other, equally as damaging forms, of elder abuse can occur in settings such as nursing homes or hospitals.  Mental and psychological abuse, as well as financial and sexual abuse occur all too often to the elderly population.  If you feel that a loved one has been a victim of elder abuse, please contact Attorney Doug Stoehr to set up a free consultation.  Attorney Stoehr has experience and knowledge pertaining to elder abuse legal claims, and will work hard to fight for the rights of your family or friend. Call his office at 814-946-4100 to set up your consultation.  Douglas V. Stoehr practices personal injury law in Duncansville and Altoona, Pennsylvania. He serves clients throughout western and central Pennsylvania, including Duncansville, Hollidaysburg, Altoona, Huntingdon, State College, Johnstown, Clearfield, Tyrone, Ebensburg, Northern Cambria, Portage, Windber, Carrolltown, Gallitzin, Saxton, Bellefonte, Centre Hall, Pine Grove Mills, Warriors Mark, Spruce Creek, Roaring Spring, Bellwood, Claysburg, Blue Knob, Lewistown, Mount Union, Belleville, McConnellsburg, Breezewood, Williamsburg, Windber, Punxsutawney Martinsburg, Somerset, Philipsburg, Everett, Williamsport, Cumberland, Oakland, Indiana, St. Mary's, Blair County, Cambria County, Huntingdon County, Clearfield County, Mifflin County, Jefferson County, Huntington County, Centre County, Bedford County, Somerset County and Fulton County.

Prescription Errors in Nursing Homes

Many nursing home residents are on a variety of prescription drugs to regulate their medical conditions.  These drugs are recorded and administered by the staff of the nursing home.  However, the journey from the pharmacist to the patient is a way for medication errors to occur.  The general public is starting to hear about these errors and some cases are being nationally publicized.
An article by the New York Times exposed an investigation into nursing homes in California that have had a high number of prescription drug errors by pharmacists.  According to the article, "In reports obtained by a local newspaper, the department found that in 18 of the 32 investigations conducted in California nursing homes between May 2010 and June 2011 pharmacists failed to red-flag cases in which residents were inappropriately prescribed powerful antipsychotic medications like Seroquel, a drug used to treat schizophrenia. Pharmacists also overlooked or approved cases in which medications were prescribed at questionable levels or in unsafe combinations that could put patients at risk of seizures, accidents or even death, according to the public health department".    The United States Department of Health is also keeping an eye on this phenomenon after a recent study it conducted in which  it was found that, in nursing homes across the country, at least 40 percent of all Medicare claims for antipsychotics, are "inappropriate, given in excessive doses, given for too long, given without the need for use, without adequate monitoring or "in the presence of adverse consequences" and should be reduced or discontinued."
It is important to monitor your loved one's medication, including type and dosage, in order to help minimize the risk of injury or illness.  If your loved one has been injured in a nursing home setting and if you feel that the nursing home has improperly medicated your loved one, it may be time to seek legal assistance.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury attorney specializing in nursing home abuse and negligence. For more information on him and his firm, please call us at (814) 946-4100.
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