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PA Doles Out Big Fines To Nursing Homes

In late 2016, The Pennsylvania Department of Health began changing the way they oversee nursing homes.  Since that time, records from around the state have reflected that the department has given out fines totaling almost $775,000 so far this year, to nursing homes that are not performing the way that they should be.  Many of these fines have resulted from situations which led to the actual harm and/or potential harm to residents. Some people say that fines are increasing due, in part, to fact that the department has resumed taking anonymous tips.  These tips have led to more frequent nursing home visits in which homes were found in violation of policies.    
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.  
Thanks to Lancaster Online for the background information for this article. 

Accredited Nursing Homes Have Higher Safety Culture

This may be an older post from our website, but is definitely worth another look!  As you may know, not all nursing homes are all created equal.  In addition to having private or government-run facilities, nursing homes can either be accredited or not.  Sometimes the differences between the different types of facilities are not immediately clear, but you should research all possible options before making a decision.

A recent study from NYU suggests that accredited nursing homes report a stronger resident safety culture than nonaccredited facilities.  The study, looking at over 4,000 facilities across the country, cited Joint Commission accreditation as increasing awareness of patient safety issues like staff training, teambuilding, positive and open communication, and correction of mistakes without punitive measures. Few studies have examined the effect of accreditation on safety measures in nursing homes.  Additionally, studies by the same researchers also found that Joint Commission accredited long-term care facilities had fewer survey deficiency citations than nonaccredited facilities

As stated earlier, not all nursing homes are created equal.  This also means that not all nursing homes provide the same level and quality of care.  With this in mind, you will need to research possible nursing home options extensively to avoid the possibility of negligence or abuse of a loved one, as well as under/inefficient staffing.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a central Pennsylvania lawyer specializing in nursing home abuse and negligence.  For more information on his practice, please call his Altoona, PA firm at 814-946-4100.

High Turnover Rate For Nursing Home Attendants

The nursing home industry is one that is experiencing growth right now, since many aging Americans from the "baby boom" generation are beginning to retire and some decide to enter into nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  With the boom in patients, nursing home are either hiring more attendants or giving attendants longer work hours.  Unfortunately, nursing homes also have a high turnover rate for employees.

A recent article by USA Today talked at length about this phenomenon.  According to the newspaper article, staff shortages are common in nursing home facilities and turnover rates are high.  Between states, the annual turnover rate is between 60-100%, according to research from the Institute for the Future of Aging Services.This is due in large part to the low wages paid by many nursing homes.  Over 20 states have regulated the industry, resulting in minimum-wage protection, some staff members do still make less than $7.25 an hour.  Additionally, according to the article, "Since 2000, there has been a 23% increase in home health care employment, while salaries have remained the same, about $21,000 a year, according to a study conducted by Michael Hicks of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University".  Overall, low wages and little to no benefits are leading to low desirability and high turnover rates for these jobs.

This new insight into nursing home employees will be helpful in allowing nursing homes to realize how to care for and better serve their patients and staff. With this in mind, nursing homes may be able to modify their practices and staffing procedures to decrease their incidents of negligence, abuse, and under/inefficient staffing.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a central Pennsylvania lawyer specializing in nursing home abuse and negligence.  For more information on his practice, please call his office at 814-946-4100.

Take a Deeper Look Into Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are a pretty ubiquitous feature of most cities and populated areas.  Although many people know generally what nursing homes are like and what features they have, some do not know the many varieties within these facilities.  All nursing homes are not created equal and there is a wide variance in layout, amenities, features, and programs.

AARP, through a blog series, took a look at the varieties of living options for seniors.  Through looking at different types of nursing homes in particular, they discovered that almost all facilities have these 7 things in common:

  • on-site physical therapy and rehabilitation services
  • activity programming
  • transportation to medical appointments
  • all meals and snacks
  • medical care (i.e. IV therapy, wound care, end-of-life care)
  • medication management and administration
  • personal care (dressing, bathing, transferring, toileting)

If you are interested in learning more about the different options of elder and end-of-life care, the AARP website and blog may be a good source of information for you.  They have articles covering all types of living options for elderly people, as well as information about MediCare and MediCaid as it relates to those living options.

As stated earlier, not all nursing homes are created equal.  This also means that not all nursing homes provide the same level and quality of care.  With this in mind, you will need to research possible nursing home options extensively to avoid the possibility of negligence or abuse of a loved one, as well as under/inefficient staffing.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a central Pennsylvania lawyer specializing in nursing home abuse and negligence.  For more information on his practice, please call our office at 814-946-4100.

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. 

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