Elderly Drivers and Home Health Care Professionals

With the large number of elderly people in the United States, chances are, you have probably read a story or two – most likely more – about a tragic car wreck involving an older person behind the wheel of a car. Oftentimes, these stories are not only about severe injuries but fatalities. The risk of fatality for a person over 80 increases dramatically.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, “the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash increases as you age. An average of 500 older adults are injured every day in crashes.” In fact, in 2008 over 5,500 were killed in motor vehicle crashes. As the population continues to age, these statistics will only worsen, and the fatalities of older Americans will – sadly – increase. Most elderly people who drive live at home and are not yet in health care facilities.

That said, even if these elderly drivers are at home, if they health care professionals in the home, those individuals, who oversee their care, are fully responsible for their health and well-being. That means they must ensure that the senior is able to operate a car safely. If this is not done appropriately, negligence occurs if this duty is not covered. It is also considered a form of elderly neglect, as the health care professional is responsible for determining whether or not the senior’s behavior is such that enables him or her to drive a vehicle.

The CDC also offers guidelines for senior citizens to stay safe on the roads. Those are the following:

1) Stick to a regular exercise schedule
2) Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about the medications you have been prescribed – make sure to ask about the possibility of these medications having negative side-effects on your ability to operate and drive a vehicle
3) Try to avoid bad weather and also drive during the day and not at nighttime
4) Try to remain focused on the road – avoid distractions such as listening to the radio, talking on the telephone, eating food, or texting
5) Carefully plan your route on trips to places that are unfamiliar to you
6) Get your eyes checked on a regular basis
7) If you are feeling nervous about the trip, ask a friend or family member to drive you to your destination or opt for public transportation

While those are the things an individual can tend to in order to be safer on the road, a health care professional’s job requires them to take the extra step to make sure that the person under their care is – as already mentioned – fully competent and able to drive. Unfortunately, there are too many instances in which this is not the case, and the results are absolutely devastating. When tragedy does strike, that is when a bereaved family needs superb counsel to seek damages for their loss. Such tragedy is oftentimes the result of severe and even willful negligence, something a grieving family should not ignore.

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Aging Behind the Wheel

Overmedicating Elderly Patients in Health Care Facilities

When people place their loved ones in nursing homes, they are entrusting family members to health care professionals. The assumptions goes that the health care professionals will take care of these elderly patients, tend to all of their needs, and treat them with dignity. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

For instance, a congressional report published in 2002 found that one in three nursing homes were cited for abuse. One form of abuse is through overmedicating elderly patients. After all, the average elderly patient in a health care facility takes eight medications a day, so they can be overmedicated quite easily. In addition, many of these facilities are “unnecessarily administering antipsychotic drugs,” according to a 2011 report by the Health and Human Services general inspector.

Even more problematic, in 2005 the FDA warned that elderly patients with dementia were at higher risk of death when taking antipsychotic drugs, something troubling when considering that these drugs are being administered to them in nursing home facilities. That aside, overmedication in general is a problem and something that should not be brushed aside. So, it is crucial to keep an eye on all the medications your loved one takes. If she or he does need antipsychotic drugs, make sure a psychiatrist is overseeing the dosages and type of drug(s) being prescribed. When it comes to other drugs, keep a list of all the dosages and why your loved one is taking them. (Also make note of the side effects of each drug). Of course, even taking all these precautions and keeping meticulous notes, while extremely useful, your loved one still runs the risk of being overmedicated.

There are, however, ways to try and prevent your loved one from being intentionally or unintentionally overmedicated.

Here are signs of someone who has been overmedicated:

- sudden changes in their behavior or personality
- distancing from people (even from loved ones)
- excessive sleepiness
- unexplained medical problems
- pronounced confusion
- unusually high levels of exhaustion or fatigue

Whether or not a health care professional or professionals have overmedicated intentionally or unintentionally, this is an example of negligence and abuse. In severe cases, elderly patients can die from overmedication, so the consequences are serious.

Unfortunately, one of the main reasons for persistent and prolonged overmedicating of elderly patients is the family members’ failure to react quickly enough to the situation. If the results can lead to the death of your loved one, the situation could – obviously – be quite grave. After all, it is bad enough if your loved one is being overmedicated, the loss of life is even more painful. That is why it is crucial that you keep an eye out for the possibility of your loved one being overmedicated, and if you do think this is occurring, it is important to know your rights, to ask appropriate questions, and then take necessary legal action when you see fit. In such situations, once you have determined your loved one is being overmedicated, taking action is key, especially with legal counsel at your side.

Related Links:

Director of Nursing Faces Prison Time for Overmedication

Hospice Care Owner in Lisle Charged with Health Care Fraud

Lincolnwood resident, attorney, and businessman Seth Gillman, has been charged with health care fraud. Gillman owns one-quarter of Passages Hospice LLC, and is named the administrator of the company. He is also the agent and secretary of Asta Healthcare Company, Inc., an entity that manages Asta Care Center nursing homes in several cities in Illinois, including Bloomington, Colfax, Elgin, Ford County, Pontiac, Rockford, and Toluca.

According to the Daily Herald, “Prosecutors said . . . Gillman . . . obtained higher Medicare and Medicaid payments by fraudulently elevating the level of hospice care for patients.” In addition, Gillman did not apparently act alone, as court documents indicate that he was aided by medical directors under his watch.

Gillman was charged with one count each of health care fraud and of obstructing a federal audit, serious charges if he is found guilty and convicted.

Health Care Fraud in Illinois
Passages itself has no inpatient facilities, but had hired nurse to tend to hospice patients in various nursing homes and those who were in need of homebound treatment. Passages grew and eventually split its operations geographically and by region, covering Chicago and the Chicagoland’s western suburbs, including Rockford, Bloomington, and Belleville. Along with its expansion, naturally, this meant an increase in nursing staff, nursing directors, and medical directors to cover each regional area.

How did Gillman elevate the level of hospice care for patients? Apparently, between August 2008 and January 2012, Gillman specifically trained Passages nurses to look for certain “signs” that would make hospice patient qualify for general inpatient care (GIP). As a result, the payments for the patient’s care would be higher than that of just routine care. Gillman was fully aware, according to the allegations, that a majority of the Passages’ patients were being incorrectly placed on GIP.

And how much higher was the reimbursement for one patient? For fiscal year 2012, Medicare’s daily reimbursement for GIP was $671.84, whereas daily payment for routine care was $151.23.

Records from the court record indicate that Passages submitted claims for Medicare and Medicaid between 2006 through 2011 for close to 4,800, and that the company was paid approximately $95 million in Medicare reimbursements and $30 million from Medicaid.

Another article noted the following account:

A woman, identified as Individual E in the affidavit, who helped Gillman and his father start Passages and served as its clinical director for several years until she was fired, told agents that Gillman said if a patient was under Passages’ care, they were sick enough to warrant GIP care. When Individual E confronted Gillman over the GIP eligibility of Patient DB, Gillman allegedly told her to mind her own business because he needed the money, the affidavit states.

Gillman is also accused of awarding himself bonuses and also divvying out bonuses to regional directors.

The criminal complaint was filed on January 24, 2014 in U.S. District Court. Gillman appeared Wednesday, January 29th, at 3 p.m. before Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown in Federal Court.

If Gillman is convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. As one piece of course indicated, Gillman is innocent until proven guilty.

Health care fraud is entirely unacceptable in all its forms. It demeans patients, unjustly enriches the perpetrators, and damages care for all taxpayers who see funding drained unnecessarily. It you were affected by health care fraud in any form, please contact our attorneys today to see how we can help ensure accountability.

Medicare Observation and Nursing Home Coverage in California

What happens when elderly adults spend some time in the hospital but aren’t officially admitted? In these situations, patients are typically classified as simply being under observation. This “observation only” status can limit older adults’ chances for Medicare nursing home coverage once they’re discharged from the hospital, according to a recent article in the New York Times. Can this lead to elder abuse conditions? And how is this happening? In order to be eligible for certain Medicare benefits, an elderly patient “must spend three consecutive midnights in the hospital—not counting the day of discharge—as an admitted patient in order to qualify for subsequent nursing-home coverage.”


More than one year ago, the California Hospital Association (CHA) recognized the problems that arise because of the “observation status” that many older adults end up with during a hospital visit. The CHA reported on an amicus brief filed by the American Hospital Association (AHA) in connection with a federal lawsuit in which Medicare beneficiaries contested the use of an “observation status” to later deny nursing-home coverage. This past December, AARP released a report that argued certain medical facilities intentionally place older adults under observation—as opposed to admitting them—for Medicare purposes, according to California Healthline. As you can see, this is an issue that’s relevant in California and across the country. What are the key issues at stake, and how can elderly citizens receive the care they need?

What Does “Under Observation” Really Mean?

As we mentioned, Medicare beneficiaries must be admitted to a hospital and spend at least three nights there in order to classify for later nursing-home coverage. When an older patient is classified as being under observation, rather than being admitted to the hospital, she will lose coverage for medications that the hospital typically provides for pre-existing conditions, and then she will be unlikely to receive Medicare coverage for nursing home care if she needs it after she leaves the hospital. According to the article in California Healthline, the “main motivator to keep Medicare patients on observation status is money.”

The New York Times suggests that this “over-classification of observation status” is a problem that’s becoming more severe. Indeed, over the last five years, the number of older adults who have visited the hospital and been classified as “under observation” has risen by 69 percent.

Who Decides?

Who decides whether a patient is admitted to a hospital? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it “varies widely depending on the hospital.” In fact, similar conditions, such as chest pain, irregular heartbeat, or nutritional disorders, will sometimes result in strict observation status at some hospitals and admission at other hospitals. Is there some way to streamline this process?

Commentators at advocates in the legal and medical fields are working to fight the current Medicare requirements. The issue is a particularly important one, as elderly adults who cannot pay for proper nursing-home case could become victims of nursing home abuse or neglect. If you suspect your elderly loved one has been a nursing home abuse victim, it’s never too early to contact an experienced California nursing home abuse lawyer.

In the meantime, however, patients who have been denied nursing-home coverage after a hospital observation have two measures of recourse, according to the Center for Medicare Advocacy:

· First, patients can argue that the hospital treatment they received while under observation—Part B outpatient charges—should actually have been billed as “Part A for hospital services, because the patient received treatment that could only have been provided in a hospital.”
· Second, patients can file an appeal for nursing-home reimbursement.

Each appeal must be filed within 120 days, and it’s important to speak to an experienced elder law attorney if you’re considering this course of action. Contact the experienced injury lawyers at the Walton Law Firm today to discuss your claim.

Photo Credit: Dietmar Temps via Compfight cc

See Related Blog Posts:
The New Financial Side of Hospice Care
Nursing Facility Reaches Settlement in Medicare/Medicaid Fraud Case

Turning Nursing Home Facilities into Big Business and Profits: GOP Candidate Bruce Rauner and GTCR under Fire for Neglect and Deaths

GOP candidate Bruce Rauner has had a rough week after bloggers and reporters revealed his former company, GTCR, had been linked to countless lawsuits for neglect, abuse, and even wrongful deaths with nursing home facilities. The company invested in Trans Healthcare Inc. (THI) in 2003, a decision that they most likely regretted. GTCR wound up losing $60 million after THI was sued and wound up filing for bankruptcy. Even worse, when the firm began to face lawsuits in 2004, GTCR’s net income of $9.4 million wound up being a net loss of $26.6 million.

Rauner was co-founder of GTCR, and was with the firm for three decades. (The company was created in 1980). Rauner stepped down in 2012 when he announced his bid to run for governor. Since he was with the company for such a long stretch of time, especially with regard to all the lawsuits involving nursing home facilities, it is more than likely that these lawsuits will be a source of criticism for his bid for the governor’s seat, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by his Republican opponents. This is simply a given.

One of his Republican opponents, Kirk Dillard, who has been in government for decade did now have good things to say about Rauner and the lawsuits against his former company and colleagues. Dillard was quoted saying, “People have died [in] nursing homes, because of the way Bruce Rauner and his friend have invested in these homes.” Indeed, Dillard will not be the only candidate to raise these points about Rauner’s past with GTCR.

In addition, Rauner has no track record in government, like Dillard and his other Republican opponents. So, as already mentioned, these recent revelations about his former company aren’t good for his campaign. The GOP rookie has also been accused of pulling a “Governor Chris Christie attitude” with reporters, and thus being churlish and refusing to answer questions about the story. (All media requests for an interview with Rauner form outlets that covered the story were refused by the candidate). Without a track record in government, Rauner was going on his business background, and this black mark isn’t doing him any favors.

Of course, the Tribune did point out that the story is more complicated than the way in which Dillard and the anti-Rauner blogger portray it to be. That said, in the age of sound bites, which have become even tinier in size as a result of the enormity of the Internet, the complexity of the story – unfortunately – will be lost to most voters. One thing is certain, Rauner’s PR team are hard at work on this one, and as the election heats up, chances are, we’re going to hear more revelations in coming months.

See Other Blog Posts:

GTCR Accused of Nursing Home Neglect

GOP Candidate Bruce Rauner and Former Company, GTCR, Connected to Nursing Home Deaths and Abuse

The past few days haven’t been good to Bruce Rauner, especially when it comes to revelations about his former company, GTCR, and its relations to Trans Healthcare Inc. (THI). GTCR first invested $1 milllion in THI in 1998, and also became more heavily involved with the company while Rauner was on board. In fact, he was with GTCR until 2012 at which point he resigned in order to pursue his bid for governor.

When news came out that Rauner’s former company GTCR had been involved with THI, reporters and bloggers seized upon the story. Doug Ibendahl, for instance, wrote, “Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner pledges to run Illinois government ‘like a business.’ In light of some disturbing facts which have come to light through multiple lawsuits involving Rauner’s former private equity firm, voters had better do their homework into what exactly the catchphrase ‘like a business’ means to Mr. Rauner.” Ibendahl provides devastating analysis of Rauner’s role at GTCR and how it worked with THI.

Another piece, published at the Tribune, covered the number of nursing home neglect lawsuits filed against THI. At one point, for example, there were claims of more than $2.3 billion against the company. These were cases that included neglect to wrongful death in nursing home facilities. Some personal attorneys accused the company off shifting assets around in order to avoid paying for damages. THI eventually filed for bankruptcy. Rauner has been on the defensive about the matter, too.

Apparently Rauner has developed a bullying tactic with reporters when it comes to this story. Thus far he has refused to answer questions about it. But those who wish to see the truth come out, such as the No-Rauner blogger, hope that they perceive to be churlish behavior will fail the green candidate and his refusal to come clean.

In an era when those who are perceived to be part of the 1% – and this is even true among Republican voters – if you have a track record for making money off of investments from a company that had dealings in the nursing home industry, something in and of itself that hints at shadiness, and then it turns out that said company was involved in wrongful deaths, abuse, and neglect, your candidacy is in for troubled times. There is no other way to spin it.

To make matters worse for Rauner, he is a rookie candidate. So, the only thing he can go by, when running, is his track record as a business man, and that is not looking too good. Far from it. This means that his opponents are going to go to town on this information, and it seems, even though he isn’t name in the legal documents against THI, he has a lot to lose when it comes to his reputation as a business man.

It also sounds like this story won’t be going away. Ibendahl indicated that there was more to come. So, stay tuned, folks.

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GTCR Accused of Nursing Home Neglect

Republican Candidate Bruce Rauner and his Private Equity Firm GTCR Accused of Deaths and Abuse at Nursing Homes

While Bruce Rauner is a newcomer to the political scene, the GOP candidate is already in the hotseat with allegations that his private equity firm, GTCR, was involved in the gross mistreatment of nursing home residents. GTCR was founded in 1980, and according to a recent Tribune article, the company “generated billions of dollars” in profits. If Rauner is to win the primary election on March 18th, these revelations could come to haunt him and his efforts to take Democratic Governor Pat Quinn’s seat this coming fall.

History of Nursing Home Abuse?
In fact, there have been over a half-dozen cases of nursing home neglect against GTCR. These cases ranged from wrongful death to patient-neglect, and exceeded $2.3 billion in damages. In other instances, personal attorneys accused GTCR of moving their assets in order to dodge paying damage claims.

But as the Tribune reported, most of these lawsuits occurred after GTCR had ceased to exist. Furthermore, Rauner was not named in any legal documents. At the same time, he was chairman of GTCR when it became involved in the nursing home business and financed $1 million in Trans Health Care Inc. (THI) in 1998. Once Rauner began his bid for the governorship in 2012, however, he left GTCR.

In 2003, THI made another announcement of further expansion into the long-term health care industry, and acquired seven more firms. At that juncture, GTCR proudly declared THI as “one of the leading long-term care companies in the United States.” Shortly thereafter, the firm was hit with numerous negligence lawsuits, and the company’s net income of $9.4 million wound up being a net loss of $26.6 million.

It should not be forgotten, that Rauner was part of GTCR during this period of time, so it comes as no surprise that the blogger, No-Rauner, was quick to report on this story.

Furthermore, earnings for THI continued to suffer in 2004 and 2005. By 2006, lenders claimed the company had defaulted on loans. At the same time, they sold off part of their assetsto Fundamental Long Term Care Inc. Things continued to worsen, and by 2009, THI had entered receivership.

With each year worsening for THI, GTCR saw every dollar of its $60 million investment disappear, $20 million of which was lost in one year – 2006 – when the company tried to restructure THI’s finances.

Regardless of the details, this story doesn’t bode well for a rookie like Rauner, and it is more than likely that it will be something with which he will have to contend if he becomes a serious contender in the upcoming governor’s race.

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“A Watchful Eye: Family Members with Loved Ones in Nursing Homes”

Untimely Discharges from Hospice Care: Another Side of the Hospice Problem

It’s clear that many hospice centers have become part of a profit-seeking industry in the United States. Indeed, the recent article in the Washington Post concerning illegitimate marketing and hospice overuse may be plaguing many parts of the country. But what about seniors who are admitted to hospice care and then discharged without getting any better? Is our country in need of elder care reform? An article in the New York Times suggests that there may be another significant problem with the hospice industry that lies more with the Medicare Hospice Benefit of 1983.


Do you have questions about caring for an elderly loved one? The experienced nursing home abuse lawyers at the Walton Law Firm can speak to you today.

Elements of the Medicare Hospice Benefit

Before we can ask whether the Medicare Hospice Benefit might be a problem, we need to understand its terms. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), the Medicare Hospice Benefit was “established in 1983 to provide Medicare beneficiaries with access to high-quality end-of-life care.” However, there are certification requirements that affect the ways in which hospice patients can access this kind of care.

For example, an 84-year-old woman, Phyllis Fine, enrolled in hospice care about two years ago in June 2012 through the Medicare Hospice Benefit, according to the New York Times. When she was admitted, she had suffered a major stroke following routine heart valve surgery, and she was unable to complete activities of daily living (ADLs). Hospice employees cared for Fine, and her daughter told the New York Times that she was pleased with the care her mother received.

At a certain point, the Medicare Hospice Benefit requires that a physician re-certify, every 60 days, that a patient is “likely to die within six months if her disease runs its normal course.” Because Fine stopped showing clear signs of further decline while in hospice, she was discharged and left without palliative care. Other families reported similar stories about their elderly loved ones—people in need of the type of care hospice provides, but unable to receive that care because their very poor conditions had “stabilized.” Is there an overarching problem with the Medicare Hospice Benefit? Do we need to reconceive of the hospice industry and the way older adults receive care?

Recent changes have further affected the regulatory requirements, which deal with certification and re-certification issues. The NHPCO emphasizes that these review mechanisms are intended to “better ensure that hospice programs are serving only patients who are eligible and appropriate for hospice care.” Specific changes include the requirement of a “brief physician narrative” in which a hospice certifying physician “provides a brief narrative statement to explain the clinical findings that support the certification and recertification of terminal illness.” This way, there’s a subjective record of the physician’s individual assessment of each patient. A more recent additional change requires a “face-to-face encounter,” which means that a hospice certifying physician must meet with a hospice patient in person in order to determine whether they’re still eligible for hospice care.

Such changes may help some of the problems of hospice overuse and the harms associated with the for-profit hospice industry. However, some terminal patients may be left without appropriate care in the end.

Discharged Hospice Patients Lack Appropriate Care

Even though a hospice patient isn’t declining rapidly, she still may have a terminal illness that requires the palliative care provided by hospice. The mere fact that a patient doesn’t show clear evidence of decline doesn’t shouldn’t mean that hospice care isn’t appropriate, according to the New York Times article. In fact, “hospice patients sometimes hit plateaus or temporarily improve” despite having a terminal disease.

Can dying elderly people receive proper care outside a hospice facility? Many commentators worry that they can’t. Or, at least, their quality of life can decline immensely. While these problems may not rise to the level of nursing home abuse, the issue of hospice discharge is a significant one if you’re dealing with the care of an elderly loved one. Has your parent been denied proper care? You may be able to file a claim. Contact an experienced California elder law attorney today to discuss your case.

Photo Credit: Paolo Margari via Compfight cc

See Related Blog Posts:
The New Financial Side of Hospice Care
Overuse and Misuse of Hospice Care

Are Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuits Frivolous?

For decades, certain policymakers and advocates for big business have made claims about the dangers of “frivolous lawsuits.” The argument is that private citizen file legal claims without merit simply in hopes of getting a jackpot settlement. These lawsuits allegedly force innocent companies to spend money defending claims. Advocates for tort reform frequently suggest that the civil justice system itself is flawed because they allow for these frivolous claims to be made.

Are these accusations true? If so, are Chicago nursing home neglect lawsuits part of the problem?

The answer to both questions is a resounding No.

Understanding the Myth of Frivolous Suits
As the Illinois Trial Lawyer’s Association (ITLA) has gone to great pains to make clear: the legal system has many built in safeguards to weed out claims that are not rooted in merit. Frivolous claims are not a problem for two general reason: (1) There are systematic procedural safeguards within the system to have poor claims tossed early in the process; (2) The structure of the relationship between injury plaintiffs and their clients are such that pursuing cases without merit is economically unsustainable.

(1) The rules of civil procedure allow defendants multiple opportunities to have a case throw out of court permanently. Contrary to popular belief, plaintiffs are not always guaranteed a right to present a case to a jury. As soon as a complaint is filed (the “pleading” that opens the matter), then defendants can ask a judge to throw out the claim for lack of merit. Even if the claim survives the first attacks, defendants then have several opportunities throughout the case to have it thrown out, even before reaching a judge or jury for trial.

(2) Beyond the procedural safeguards, anyone who understands the work of trial lawyers appreciates that it does not make sense to pursue cases without merit. These matters are almost always taken on a contingency fee basis. That means that the lawyer or law firm takes on 100% of the risk, putting up funds to move the case forward (often tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars) with no option for recovery if the matter is thrown out or lost at trial. In other words, if there is not sufficient evidence to win a case, an attorney will not pursue the matter only to lose his or her own funds. Any law firm that did operate in that manner would be out of business very quickly.

An experienced legal professional can explain if your nursing home neglect situation merits a lawsuit. Under Illinois law, these facilities have an obligation to provide reasonable care. There are very specific caregiving requirements, but, in general, a lawsuit has merit when a resident was harmed in a fall, developed bed sores, was attacked by another resident, or otherwise did not receive reasonable support from those charged to do so.

Pursuing these cases is not an attempt at a windfall. Instead, families come forward with these claims specifically because they want accountability and seek to raise awareness to prevent other families from suffering similar heartbreak

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Alzheimer’s & Nursing Home Neglect

Understanding the Ombudsman

Alzheimer’s Increases Risk of Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Care Facilities

With a significant number of Americans aging, a large percentage of these individuals suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a baffling and devastating disease. It begins with memory loss and progresses into the unraveling of cognition, leads to the person’s loss of her identity and eventually her ability to take care of herself. It is a degenerative disease that attacks the brain’s neurons, and eventually leads to death. Alzheimer’s, despite popular opinion, is not a natural death. It is painful, arduous, and grotesque, especially for those who must standby and bear witness, i.e., the loved ones who must watch over those who suffer from it and eventually die from it.

Not surprisingly, the majority of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease must be placed in nursing care facilities, as their deteriorating mental condition – as well as physical condition – make it too difficult for families (unless they are fortunate enough to have in-house staff) to tend to their needs. Unfortunately, these patients are oftentimes the targets of abuse and suffer from neglect, too. The consequences of abuse and neglect are serious and even life-threatening, and often result in family members taking necessary measures via litigation.

While all elderly patients are subject to abuse, regardless of their state of mind – especially when staff members are poorly trained, aren’t paid well, and lack professionalism – those with Alzheimer’s disease are even more vulnerable, because they have difficulty speaking up for themselves and reporting it. In fact, in 2010 a study out of University of California, Irvine, found that close to half of Alzheimer’s patients were abused. That is a chilling figure. And that is precisely why family members who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease must make sure to visit the nursing care facility on a regular basis to observe care, get to know staff members, and keep an eye out for possible signs of abuse. The issue of abuse is one of many problems, however. Neglect is another one, as these patients pose a problem of fleeing the facility if left to their own devices. Indeed, a patient with Alzheimer’s disease is always a flight risk, and when an event like this occurs, the results can be deadly.

Levin & Perconti Neglect Case
In fact, in 2004 Levin and Perconti had a related nursing home neglect case. Although the patient did not suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, the circumstances were similar when it came to the issue of supervision. In this case, it was a 54-year old man who resided in an Illinois nursing home called Lee Manor Nursing Home. One day, he tried to escape from a window from the facility. The man was a chronic paranoid schizophrenic, a condition that required round-the-clock supervision. In fact, he was on a floor of the nursing home that had that type of supervision.

Sadly, the windows in his room were not sealed, and he fell to his death as a result. This was a clear case of negligence. First, the man should have been under supervision. Second, the windows on that floor – especially in the man’s room – should have been completely sealed. If the facility had taken these simple precautions, this grotesque death could have been avoided, and so could the heartache that this man’s family experienced after this brutal and unnecessary loss.

Related Links:

Looming Problems with Alzheimer’s Care in Nursing Homes?

Alzheimer’s Patient Dies in Nursing Home Fall