ProPublica Exposé Reveals Nursing Home Abuse Related Deaths Rarely Investigated

According to a new exposé by ProPublica, an unknown number of senior citizens who die in nursing homes around the country may have died due to nursing home abuse. However, their families may never know because investigations into such a wrongful death are rare. Nursing home abuse attorneys are well aware of the serious nature of the problem. When investigating these matters, we often find that the nursing home has been active in trying to cover up the abuse, rather than conducting an honest investigation which uncovers the issue and provides useful information to improving the care they provide.

As part of the exposé, the team at ProPublicainvestigated coroner and medical examiner’s office records, and looked at the number of sudden and unusual fatalities at several nursing homes. They found in their investigations that in cases involving seniors who die suddenly, or under any kind of suspicious circumstances, there is no guarantee of any investigation into the death. ProPublicahas reached several conclusions that point to systemic flaws.

For instance, when a senior death is reported as natural, coroners and medical examiners very rarely investigate it. However, the fact is that very often, doctors make errors in judging whether a death is natural or not. In one study conducted in 2008, approximately 50% of doctors were not able to correctly identify the cause of death for an elderly patient who had died after a brain injury that occurred as a result of a fall accident. What this means is that an unknown number of deaths in nursing homes are probably being classified as natural deaths, when they are anything but.

Also, in many states, doctors are allowed to write out a death certificate without even seeing the body. In one case that the ProPublicateam came across during this investigation, a Pennsylvania doctor reported that a 83-year-old person had died of natural causes, when in fact, the death had been the result of beating by nursing home staff. The doctor never saw the patient, and never noticed the bruises on the man's body, that would've alerted him to the fact that this was not a natural death.

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Nursing Home Residents At Risk from Overmedication

A report by the Department of Health and Human Services finds that a shocking 80% of elderly nursing home residents in the country have been administered antipsychotic medications, for off-label purposes. Because these medications have a high risk of deaths, it is statistically likely that some of the patients died as a result of the use of these medications. The off-label use of these medications raises the likelihood of claims for nursing home abuse, medical malpractice and product liability. Atlanta injury attorneys will need to closely monitor the developments in this area and will likely get calls from families of patients who were treated with these medications.

According to the report, out of 300,000 nursing home residents studied in 2007, approximately 90% received powerful anti-psychotic medications that are typically used for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. There are studies to prove that elderly persons who receive antipsychotic medications can be at a high risk of death. In spite of this, these vulnerable persons were overmedicated, and there is no reason to believe that things have changed dramatically between 2007 and now. 

Moreover, it seems highly likely that the pharmaceutical industry has been behind this overmedication of nursing home residents. One of the ways in which pharmaceutical companies increase their profits is by promoting off-label uses of their drugs. An off-label use of a drug is one which has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Doctors can prescribe a drug for off-label uses, but a company is not allowed to market the drug for these purposes.

However, as Atlanta nursing home abuse attorneys have noted in the past, that hasn't really stopped pharmaceutical companies from aggressively promoting off-label uses of their drugs, especially among elders. The more numbers of uses these drugs are prescribed for, the higher the profits for the company. 

In addition, the report also found that one in five residents in nursing homes have been administered these drugs in a manner that violates federal standards for their use. These patients were either given dosages that were too high or were on the medication for too long a period of time.

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No Injuries Reported in Atlanta area Nursing Home Roof Collapse

More than 100 residents of a nursing home in Gwinnett County, Georgia were moved to another facility last week, after the roof of their nursing home collapsed. Fortunately, the 109 residents did not suffer injuries during the collapse. As an Atlanta injury lawyer, I have seen a number of roof collapses that did not turn out nearly as well. When it comes to nursing homes, we are generally more focused on nursing home abuse issues.

According to news reports, the collapse occurred around 10 AM on Thursday at the Golden Living Center at 213 Scenic Highway in Lawrenceville. According to facility staff, workers were in the process of replacing the entire roof of the building when the collapse occurred. Apparently, the workers were engaged in removing and replacing roofing materials at the time of the collapse. The collapse occurred in the dining area of the facility.

Fortunately, none of the residents were in the dining area during the collapse. However, there could have been serious injuries if the collapse had occurred later in the day. Just a short while after the collapse, the residents were scheduled to spend some time in the dining area. The residents have now been shifted to other living facilities.

It’s extremely fortunate that all the residents of the nursing home are safe and comfortable now. Most of these people are already in fragile health, and could have suffered serious injuries during the roof collapse. Besides, elderly people may suffer from a number of health conditions that make their ability to recover from injury, even more complicated. For instance, broken bones or fractures in older persons take a much longer time to heal. The elderly have weakened immune systems, and infections can quickly set in after an injury. There may be other complications that may even end in death. It's the reason why nursing homes must take extra precautions to keep their premises safe and secure at all times.

The Atlanta premises liability attorneys at the Katz Law Firm are dedicated to the representation of persons injured in construction accidents, nursing home abuse cases, slip and falls, swimming pool accidents and other unsafe property-related accidents across the metro Atlanta area our and Georgia.

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Nursing Home Malpractice Cases likely to increase Due to Spike in Elder Abuse Across the Country

According to a federal report, an increase in elder abuse around the country threatens to put more pressure on an already strained adult protective services network. Likewise, this increase will likely cause an increase in nursing home malpractice cases.   The report was compiled by the Government Accountability Office. A total of 39 states responded to the survey, which found that there was an increase in elder abuse cases, especially an increase in highly complex cases that involved several different forms of abuse. What is even more concerning to Atlanta elder abuse attorneys, is that even though there has been a spike in elder abuse cases, funding for adult protective services has not kept pace. As an Atlanta injury lawyer, I know that all attorneys are likely to be flooded with a significant number of nursing home malpractice claims.

The report also discusses the kind of person who is more susceptible to abuse. For instance, people with cognitive or physical impairment may be more susceptible to abuse. Elderly persons who have trouble bathing or feeding themselves and are dependent on others for such activities, may be at a higher risk of abuse. Elderly persons who lack social support, like a strong family network, were much more likely to be abused.

Besides, the report also analyzes the detrimental effects of such abuse on victims. For instance, a study conducted in 2,000 found that elder abuse victims had higher levels of depression, compared to elders who were not abused. Another study conducted in 2006 on elderly women in the Midwest found that women who were psychologically abused had more health problems than those who were not abused. Elder abuse also seems to decrease the lifespan of the victims. A decade-long study conducted between 1982 and 1992 found that only 9% of abuse victims were still alive in 1995, compared to 40% of elders who had not been subjected to abuse during the same period. The difference is just staggering and sad. We all must be aware and prepared to act when we see abuse.

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Two People Killed in Nursing Home in DeKalb County


Two persons have been confirmed dead in a fire at a nursing home in DeKalb County. An arrest has already been made in the incident, and Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers have also learned that the facility owner had likely been operating the home without a license.

The house in Stone Mountain had about 7 or 8 residents living at the facility. 

One person died of injuries at the scene, while the other one was taken to hospital and died later from severe burn injuries. At least 4 other people suffered injuries, including mild burns and smoke inhalation.  At least one resident has confirmed that he escaped burn injuries by jumping out of his first storey window.

Police have arrested 26-year-od Joyce Turnipseed and have charged her with arson and homicide. Apparently, Turnipseed had been living at the facility too. The Department of Community Heath has confirmed that it is investigating whether the owner of the facility had a valid license to run the special needs home.

Even if the facility was being run under a valid license, there are other questions that must be asked here. The fire protection systems in the house will definitely be one of the main focuses of the investigation. What kind of fire protection processes were in place here? Were building codes and standards followed stringently?

We know the media and everyone else seems to be focused on whatever is going on at Toyota, but we hope that serious questions will be asked in this incident. Two lives have been lost, and 4 other people have been put through a traumatic experience.  

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Nursing Home Resident Indicted in Roomate's Murder: Was Neglect Involved?


 

 An unusual murder at a nursing home in Massachusetts is grabbing the interest of nursing home attorneys around the country.  Does the murder of a 100-year-old patient at an elder care facility by her 98-year-old roommate qualify as grounds for neglect by staff?

The incident occurred at a nursing home in Massachusetts. The victim, Elizabeth Barrow and was found strangulated in her bed in September this year. Indicted in her death is Barrow’s roommate, 98-year-old Laura Lundquist. Lundquist will likely not stand trial, and has been ordered by a judge to undergo a competency evaluation.

According to the victim’s son, Scot Barrow, his mother had told him that she had been frequently threatened and harassed by Lundquist. Scott was concerned enough about these threats to bring them to the notice of the nursing home authorities. However, his concerns were shot down by staff who said that the roommates got along just fine.

Obviously, things weren’t as peachy perfect as the nursing home staff hoped. On the night that Barrow died, she apparently complained that Lundquist had blocked her way to the bathroom with a table. The nurses intervened, and got the table removed. The next morning, Barrow was dead in her bed with a plastic bag wrapped around her neck. The table that had been removed the previous night was back at the foot of her bed.

Scott Barrow has confirmed that he asked nursing home authorities if they could place his mother in a separate room from Lundquist. As Atlanta nursing home abuse attorneys, we believe it’s pertinent to ask some questions here. If Barrow’s son had indeed spoken to the nursing home authorities on these concerns, why were no attempts made to separate the two women?

According to the local district attorney, Lundquist has a history of paranoia and other mental issues. Elderly patients at nursing homes do often suffer from dementia, paranoia, depression and other medical conditions, but if Lundquist’s paranoia or hostility was a threat to Barrow’s safety, why wasn’t staff able to pick up on this threat and separate the two, thereby preventing this tragedy?

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Nursing homes Become Dumping Grounds for mentally ill, Increase Risk of Elder Abuse


 

The Associated Press has a shocking report about the manner in which spare beds at nursing homes around the country are being filled by mentally ill patients, thus exposing the facility's elderly patients to assaults and abuse.

Across the country, deplorable conditions at mental health institutions have been responsible for the closure of these facilities. Besides, the mentally ill over the past few decades, have benefited from better treatment and more effective drugs which have also played a part in the closure of several of these facilities. This has meant that there are insufficient beds for the mentally ill, and many of them have been shifted to nursing homes instead. In these elder care facilities, these mentally ill patients who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other serious mental conditions are made to share rooms with weak and sick elderly residents, most of who are above 65 years of age. What makes the problem worse is that the mentally ill patients are much younger, and therefore stronger and healthier than their geriatric roommates. This has given rise to a potentially dangerous situation in which the elderly are at risk of violent assaults and even sexual abuse at the hands of the mentally ill.

There is no official data on how many of such assaults on the elderly by their mentally ill roommates have taken place, but numerous cases have been reported. In one instance, in 2003 a mentally ill woman at a nursing home in Hartford, Connecticut, set fire to the nursing home she was living at. Sixteen residents were killed n the inferno. The woman was judged incompetent to stand trial and was committed to a mental institution. There have been other instances of assault, including beatings and rapes of elderly residents.  

According to the report, in 2008 there were approximately 125,000 mentally ill patients living in nursing homes. In Georgia alone, 3300 mentally ill patients are residents at nursing homes meant for the elderly. Nursing home staff members often lack the training to deal with the special mental health challenges posed by these patients. Handling the severe paranoia, delusions, depression, aggression and hallucination that mentally ill patients suffer is impossible in the absence of staff that is trained to deal with such patients.

Georgia Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

Georgia already has the distinction of being one of the worst states for nursing care with the state ranking number 2, based on the lowest number of top rated nursing homes. Just above 6% of nursing homes in Georgia have a five star rating, and abusive and neglectful conditions at some of the state's homes have kept Georgia nursing home abuse lawyers very busy through the years with elder abuse lawsuits. Adding to the existing problems of under funding and staff shortages is the fact that there are 3300 mentally ill patients living with geriatric residents, creating the perfect recipe for assault and abuse.

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