Doctor Sentenced in Nursing Home Drugging Case, Others Involved

A Californian doctor, Dr. Hoshang Pormir, was sentenced to probation for improperly medicating nursing home patients, resulting in three deaths. Pormir will serve three years probation for his faulty actions in the Lake Isabella facility.

Dr. Hoshang Pormir was a staff physician at the nursing home. State authorities contend that from August 2006 to August 2007 this doctor incorrectly drugged these elderly patients with anti-psychotropic medication; psychotropic drugs are psychiatric pharmaceuticals that alter chemical levels in the brain which impact mood and behavior. His reason for implementation: “To keep them quiet,” according to KBAK Fox News. Some of the nursing home residents were even forcibly injected. Finally after two years worth of investigation, local police arrested Pormir in February of 2009.

pills%20%282%29.jpgMoreover, three other individuals are facing charges for their own role in the elder abuse case. Each of these defendants—former director of nursing Gwen Hughes, former pharmacist Debbi Hayes, and hospital administrator Pamela Ott—worked for the nursing home facility in Lake Isabella. Officials say that Hughes, starting in 2006, allegedly ordered for patients to receive high doses of these psychotropic medications, particularly to Alzheimer’s or dementia suffering patients. The former nursing chief Hughes mandated that the medications be given to patients who argued with her, made noise or were otherwise disruptive; Pormir merely signed off on the orders after the drugs were administrated. Scheduled for October, she will face eight counts of harming or causing the death of an elderly adult and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. As for Ott, she pleaded no contest last month to a conspiracy charge with here sentencing coming next month.

The unfortunate patients who passed away from the fallacious actions of Pormir and Hughes were 91-year-old Mae Brinkley, 76-year-old Joseph Shepter and 85-year-old Alexander Zaiko. These patients, before their untimely deaths, experienced several medical complications, including lethargy and the inability to eat or drink properly.

Our North County elder abuse attorney understands that Dr. Pormir, Ms. Hughes, and others’ actions should never be tolerated in society. The families of Mae Brinkley, Joseph Shepter, and Alexander Zaiko should not be grieving over the passing of their loved one. This is a disgusting display of negligent and plain abusive caretaking. It is hard not to argue that three years probation is merely a slap on the wrist. These were human beings—mothers, fathers—not some rabid dogs needing to be put down. As individuals admit loved ones into nursing homes or elderly facilities, a pact of trust is established between they and the staff. Yet when that trust crumbles and shatters based on horrendous incidents like this, where are people to turn?

It is important that if you sense signs of elder abuse, as seen in Lake Isabella, to contact an attorney immediately. Our experienced San Diego nursing home abuse attorneys will guide you and your family through this arduous ordeal. Consulting legal aid is one of the primary steps to combating this matter. Elder abuse can occur in a multitude of forms: physical, emotional, psychological. Therefore, it is crucial to be vigilant for any symptom or indication of nursing home abuse.

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Settlement Pending Judge’s Approval in Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Case

The Chicago Tribune reported this week on the near-end of a tragic case of Chicago nursing home neglect involving a long-term care facility in West Rogers Park. The story is a complex one with a senior woman who drowned herself in a bathtub at the facility. An Illinois wrongful death lawsuit was eventually filed in the case by the woman’s adult daughter. A settlement agreement has apparently been reached and is not awaiting approval from the court. All settlement agreements require final court approval before becoming effective, though in most cases there is not an issue with securing that approval.

According to the Tribune report, the elderly woman allegedly committed suicide in the bathtub in July of 2010. Of course, some might wonder how a third-party could be liable for a suicide. However, our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers often explain that many seniors in these facilities have various vulnerabilities. Some of those vulnerabilities include risk of self-harm. When the risks are known, then it is critical for caregivers to account for the possibility of self-harm. Close observation is often involved. Failure to provide that observation and oversight, therefore, is often a sign of neglect–care falling below of reasonable standard. When neglect causes harm, then a civil lawsuit is often appropriate to ensure accountability.

In this case, the documents filed with the Cook County Circuit Court note that the facility did not properly monitor the woman, even after she express clear suicidal ideas to staff members. This illustrates a crucial point in many civil law negligence cases–unique duties. Outside of the nursing home context, a third party is not likely to be liable for harm suffered by someone who expressed suicidal thoughts even if they did not do anything to stop the individual. In most cases there is not an affirmative duty to act to help another.

Yet, that changes in certain circumstances when special duties are placed on individuals under the law. That includes the duty of a nursing home to care for the well-being of seniors in the home. The reason for this is obvious, the caregivers are voluntarily taking on a commitment to help one with particular vulnerabilities. Taking on that obligation comes with legal requirements, like acting to prevent a resident from harming themselves.

The article explains how the 51-year old nursing home resident in this case was found by staff members while in the facility’s tub room. The water was running at the time. Emergency officials were called, and the woman was rushed to a local medical facility where she passed away. There was initially some confusion about the cause of death, with examiners unclear as to whether it was a suicide, homicide, or accident.

In this case, after filing the lawsuit the adult daughter has apparently reached an agreement with the facility. The settlement is for $102,500.

Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers work with many family members in similar situations. If you suspect that a loved one may have suffered harm after mistreatment at a long-term care facility, please call our office to see how we can help.

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Key Advance in Alzheimer’s Research

MedPage Today published an exciting story this week that shares information about new research. The study offers hope to many families with loved one’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Each Illinois nursing home attorney appreciates the wide-ranging significance of these issues. A large percentage of nursing home residents suffer from some form of cognitive condition, like Alzheimer’s. In fact, residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia are far more likely to fall victim to Illinois nursing home abuse or mistreatment. That is because they have substantial vulnerabilities and are often significantly reliant on caregivers.

The Alzheimer’s Association release information this year showing that a staggering one in eight older Americans have Alzheimer’s. This is not an isolated problem that involves only a few. On the contrary, according to the Association it is “the only cause of death in the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.”

Hopefully, however, that will soon change.

The Research
The new findings have yet to be published, but an abstract of the results were presented at the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

The study included only a small group of participants–21 total, including five members of the placebo group. The participants were given treatments with intravenous immunoglobulim (IVIG). Participants were given bi-monthly doses of IVIG over an extended period of time, some as long as three years.

The results were quite encouraging. Those who were on IVIG amazingly had the mental deterioration effects of Alzheimer’s halted. The effects were measured as the trial was underway using different standardized measurements–including the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-Cog) and the Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC). The results were the same for each. The IVIG apparently slowed or altogether eliminated the deterioration. The patients were not cured, but they did not decline mentally when compared to the placebo group. Importantly, some in the placebo group were switched over to active treatments and saw a change as well. The researchers called it a noticeable “bend in the curve” of their mental deterioration.

Great Hope
Our Chicago nursing home attorneys appreciate the significance of these findings. Of course, it is far too early to make broad pronouncements about the way the results may eventually help society at large. That is particularly true considering the small scale of the sample.

Yet, all new efforts which even hint at relief from the devastating consequences of Alzheimer’s are useful. That is because, as the Alzheimer’s Association quote notes, there is currently precious little that can be done to help these individuals other than ensure they do not fall victim to overt elder abuse.

If the IVIG treatments prove helpful to others, then that may change.

It is hard to overestimate the possibilities. Beyond saving literally millions of lives, this sort of work may come with significant cost savings. The Association notes that right now over $200 billion is spent on medical care for these individuals annually. That does not even count the $210 billion in unpaid care provided by friends and family members of these individuals.

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New Report Finds Large Number of Baby Boomers with Mental Health Issues

Physical disabilities are only one form of ailment that affects local seniors. Beyond problems with injuries and bodily weaknesses, our Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys know that mental health issues are just as dangerous for aging seniors. In fact, many local residents move into nursing home and other assisted living situations not because of any physical infirmities, but because of mental illnesses that make it dangerous for the senior to live alone without serious risk of harm. Mental vulnerabilities also make a senior more prone to suffer from Illinois nursing home abuse or neglect. For that reason, it is critical to understand the severity of these mental health challenges and account for the possible implications.

In fact, a new report from the Institute of Medicine shed light on the overall demographics of mental health in seniors. The report offers clear evidence that these issues are very real and quite common.

As reported in Health Day, the report, entitled The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults, was mandated in order for Congress to examine long-term health care needs for this community. Considering the senior population is expected to reach over 72 million in less than two decades, the need to plan for the care needs of these individuals is self-evident.

Alarmingly, the report found that one in five seniors (20%) have some form of mental health condition. For purposes of the study the mental health conditions include a range of issues with the most common being depression, dementia-related behavior, and “at-risk drinking.” This list does not even include a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Even further, the study found that a significant portion of that group–about 2 million seniors total–suffer from a “severe” mental illness. Doctors connected with the research note that this problem is “under-appreciated.” Others argue that they hope the report is a real wake-up call to address the problem before it reaches epidemic levels.

For one thing, our Illinois elder abuse attorneys appreciate that right now there is a lack of sufficient long-term care options for these individuals, and the problem will only worsen as the senior population grows. The report authors note that in investigation the resources available to help these seniors what they found was “ a health care workforce that is not prepared to address either problems or the special needs of an aging population.”

Not only are there an insufficient number of caregivers available to provide the necessary support, but many are simply untrained to deal with the specific issues faced by the community. For example, seniors with substance abuse issues almost always have the problem in combination with physical health problems. Many caregivers are trained to deal with the physical issues but have little experience with mental health or substance abuse concerns. Therefore, the best care–combining mental and physical support–is often lacking.

It is vital public leaders properly address these concerns in the coming years and months.

Please CLICK HERE to read the full report from the Institute of Medicine.

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Arrest made in Brookfield Elder Abuse Case

The Riverside-Brookfield Landmark reported on a tragic case of deadly Illinois elder abuse this week. The case demonstrates the range of risks facing seniors who are dependent on other for care–even with those caregivers are supposed to be close friends and family members.

According to the report, Cook County Sheriff’s officers arrested a man last week in connection with criminal Illinois elder neglect and abuse. The man was arrested in Brookfield in connection with the death of a woman who died in August of last year. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office had deemed the woman’s death a homicide, and elder abuse is likely the cause. Our Chicago elder abuse lawyers know that what makes the case particularly heartbreaking is the extent of the abuse and the fact that the man arrested was the husband of the victim–a stark reminder of the fact that many abusers in these cases are husbands and children.

The story explains that in late August of 2011, local authorities received a tip that an elderly woman was being intentionally neglected by her husband. The woman was a 60-year old Brookfield resident. Upon investigating the claims, the police discovered the woman in serious trouble. She was hospitalized immediately after being discovered. At the time, the police reports indicate that she weighed only 85 pounds and showed obvious signs of neglect. She had multiple bedsores which had gone without treatment for a significant period of time. Some of the sores had deteriorated to the point that gangrene had set in. Sadly, the woman’s injuries ultimately proved too severe, and she passed away a few days after police first uncovered the situation.

Following the death the Cook County Sheriff’s Elder Abuse unit took over the investigation. This is common in cases of this nature, where criminal elder abuse might have been in play. After an extended investigatory period, in January of 2012 the death was officially ruled a homicide by the medical examiner’s office.

In the past few months the investigations continued, and many more details about the situation were revealed.

The true extent of the abuse soon became clear–indicating a horrific series of neglect that lasted five years. Apparently, the woman’s conditions deteriorated over a period of years, but her husband, as caregiver, was grossly negligent in his failure to take care of her. Apparently some others had pled with the man to help the woman, but he demurred. Those outsiders also allegedly tried to get state and private healthcare agencies to intervene. Yet, nothing was done until just a few days before her death–after her condition had completely bottomed out as a result of years of neglect.

It remains to be explained how this woman was allowed to slip through the cracks by state agencies. Our Illinois elder abuse attorneys hope that a full and complete investigation is conducted to get to the bottom of the problem. The Department of Human Services assigned the woman a caregiver in 2007. Those caregiver’s allegedly tried to warn others about the need to intervene but were ignored. It is unclear whether the problems went unaddressed because of the husband’s intervention or agency failure to properly follow up.

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Arrest made in Brookfield Elder Abuse Case

The Riverside-Brookfield Landmark reported on a tragic case of deadly Illinois elder abuse this week. The case demonstrates the range of risks facing seniors who are dependent on other for care–even with those caregivers are supposed to be close friends and family members.

According to the report, Cook County Sheriff’s officers arrested a man last week in connection with criminal Illinois elder neglect and abuse. The man was arrested in Brookfield in connection with the death of a woman who died in August of last year. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office had deemed the woman’s death a homicide, and elder abuse is likely the cause. Our Chicago elder abuse lawyers know that what makes the case particularly heartbreaking is the extent of the abuse and the fact that the man arrested was the husband of the victim–a stark reminder of the fact that many abusers in these cases are husbands and children.

The story explains that in late August of 2011, local authorities received a tip that an elderly woman was being intentionally neglected by her husband. The woman was a 60-year old Brookfield resident. Upon investigating the claims, the police discovered the woman in serious trouble. She was hospitalized immediately after being discovered. At the time, the police reports indicate that she weighed only 85 pounds and showed obvious signs of neglect. She had multiple bedsores which had gone without treatment for a significant period of time. Some of the sores had deteriorated to the point that gangrene had set in. Sadly, the woman’s injuries ultimately proved too severe, and she passed away a few days after police first uncovered the situation.

Following the death the Cook County Sheriff’s Elder Abuse unit took over the investigation. This is common in cases of this nature, where criminal elder abuse might have been in play. After an extended investigatory period, in January of 2012 the death was officially ruled a homicide by the medical examiner’s office.

In the past few months the investigations continued, and many more details about the situation were revealed.

The true extent of the abuse soon became clear–indicating a horrific series of neglect that lasted five years. Apparently, the woman’s conditions deteriorated over a period of years, but her husband, as caregiver, was grossly negligent in his failure to take care of her. Apparently some others had pled with the man to help the woman, but he demurred. Those outsiders also allegedly tried to get state and private healthcare agencies to intervene. Yet, nothing was done until just a few days before her death–after her condition had completely bottomed out as a result of years of neglect.

It remains to be explained how this woman was allowed to slip through the cracks by state agencies. Our Illinois elder abuse attorneys hope that a full and complete investigation is conducted to get to the bottom of the problem. The Department of Human Services assigned the woman a caregiver in 2007. Those caregiver’s allegedly tried to warn others about the need to intervene but were ignored. It is unclear whether the problems went unaddressed because of the husband’s intervention or agency failure to properly follow up.

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Documentary Targets Senior Financial Abuse

The Examiner shared a story this week on a new documentary planning to showcase the prevalence of elder financial exploitation. At the center will be perhaps the most well-known victim of one of these crimes–Mickey Rooney.

Rooney,currently 91, has been in the spotlight virtually all of his life. With eight marriages, nine children, and nineteen grandchildren, it seems strange that such a personality could be affected by an issue like senior financial exploitation. Our Chicago senior abuse lawyers know that many immediately assume all of these victims are seniors living alone and isolated from others. But, as Rooney’s case shows, it can happen to anyone. As blog readers know, Rooney testified before Congress in March of 2011. During the testimony he noted how he was financially abused by a family member–though he didn’t name the individual. The hearing was an attempt for Congress to get a grasp of these issues and perhaps spur legislation to fight it.

The Documentary
The new documentary will focus on Rooney’s story as a warning to all seniors. The production is titled, “Last Will and Embezzlement” with the tagline. “If it can happen to Mickey Rooney, it can happen to anybody.”

Besides interviews with Rooney, the movie also shares various, heart-wrenching stories of real-life seniors swindled in their elder years. Experts present crucial information as well, with the goal of helping viewers prevent abuse of themselves of loved ones. For example, the common profiles of victims, ways that the abuse occurs, and reasons for the exploitation are all examined.

The filmmaker herself was spurred to make the movie after her own mother passed away and her father descended into Alzheimer’s. All of this occured while her parents were in a nursing home. One time, while at the facility a complete stranger visited the home, pretended to be the woman’s brother and tried to get access to the senior. The man obtained information from the father, including details about his checking accounts.

When the family discovered this, they went to the authorities. However, the police told the her that the situation did not warrant an investigation. While some law enforcement agencies properly investigate these claims, our Chicago nursing home lawyers know that all too often it falls on family members to demand proper accountability.

The filmmaker notes that one purpose is to “get people thinking about ways to protect themselves so they don’t have to rely on law enforcement after the fact.”

Another large mission of the documentary is to shine a spotlight on an issue that is all too often hidden. According to the National Center for Elder Abuse, roughly two-third of all elder abuse (of which financial abuse is just a part) goes unreported. The abusers can be anyone, from care workers to family members. Seniors with cognitive disease like dementia and Alzheimer’s are most at risk.

Some efforts are being made a federal level to tackle the issue. One U.S. Senator is pushing for legislation that emphasizes more reporting of abuse. In addition, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) includes some components to combat crimes committed against older adults.

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First-Hand Portrait of Life Inside an Assisted-Living Facility

What is is really like to live in a nursing home or assisted living facility? Our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys are as guilty as anyone of sometimes focusing too much on the medical and protective care provided by these facilities while forgetting about the actual quality of life for seniors. Yet, it is absolutely essential to remember that these facilities are not just warehouses to keep seniors alive. They are actual communities where residents should be able to thrive and spend their time in enriching activities that make their lives worth living.

Sadly, that often isn’t the case. Beyond trying to avoid nursing home neglect and receive basic care, assisted living residents face wealth of mental and emotional challenges. Those challenges often severely decreased residents’ quality of life.

Those challenges were beautifully explained in an article excerpt published in the Washington Post. The story was written by a relatively young nursing home resident and drawn from an extended article published in journal Health Affairs.

The Story
The author was forced to move into an assisted-living facility when he as only 53 years old as a result of complications for early-onset Parkinsons. From the beginning he reported problems with administrators at these facilities. He noted one particularly angry encounter with a facility manager where the manager made clear that the facility did not belong to the resident, he just leased a room, which meant he had less say in decision-making.

The resident is clear in distinguishing the “top down” management decisions of the executives with the care provided by nurses and assistants to residents each day. In many ways the man explains that the day-to-day caregivers are in the same boat as the residents–feeling as if they are living and working in a location owned by others.

Amazingly, the man also explains that many homes–including the one he currently lives at–is not even properly accessible for those in a wheelchair. The man lives in a place with an outdoor patio, but he can’t wheel himself onto it, because the door isn’t wide enough. Similarly, he has never lived at a home where the bathroom sink or mirror is at an accessible level.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers were particularly touched by one emotional drain on residents that is often ignored–watching as friends pass away around you. The man in this case notes that he has already watched as dozens of friends (“someone you’ve eaten breakfast with every morning for several years”) passes away. Considering the author is considerably younger than those around him (now 62 after eight years in the facility), he expects to see hundreds of friends pass away.

The story is a reminder of the need to conduct proper research, if possible, when deciding between facilities. Not all homes are created equal, and some offer far better care than others, void of nursing home neglect and abuse. It is important to get an idea of the differences between homes and find one that is a good fit for you or your loved one.

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Five Arrested in Another California Nursing Home Abuse Case

A Californian family was running a non-authorized elder residency in their own home. According to the Examiner, police found this house and its residents last week in a ghastly state.

foreclosure%20%28jay%20Santiago%29.jpgHaving run an unlicensed nursing home, members of this San Jose family now face felony charges for the neglect of a dozen mentally disabled adults. Authorities reported atrocious living conditions, including rotten food, no running water, and defecated floors from untrained dogs. Moreover, Santa Clara County police say that the elderly residents were malnourished, beaten, bathed only once a month, and forbidden to use toilet paper. This monstrous event is sadly one many nursing home abuse cases that California has seen in the past year.

As prosecutor Charles Huang stated, “These incredibly vulnerable people were treated worse than the animals that were rescued. We are hoping anyone else who has relatives in this home will contact us as soon as possible.”

In late May, the relatives of one of the male residents alerted local police when they were barred from visiting their loved one; instead, these so-called supervisors told the relative that he did not live there. Upon investigation, police were able to enter the home, finding locks on the refrigerator and uncleaned floors and countertops. They discovered the residence was in a repulsive and practically unlivable condition. Authorities swiftly removed the patients from the house into protective custody. In addition, an astounding twenty-five dogs were also taken by animal control. Most of the residents of the home suffer from schizophrenia and other severe disorders, officials say. These poor individuals confessed to investigators that they were kept in small rooms virtually all day. Also, they said that their clothes were washed once a month—on the day they were allowed to see a doctor.

Only to add insult to injury, the victims also reported that the five suspects sequestered their Social Security checks.

Last week, prosecutors filed charges against Kathy Le, 41, George Dac Nguyen, 72, Jennifer Ngo, 63, Charles Nguyen, 25, and Margaret Ngo, 27. This sordid collection of family is being charged with dependent adult abuse and animal neglect. They were arrested by San Jose police on Monday and are currently out on bail. The arraignment for these five suspects is scheduled for July 16. If convicted of all counts, they will face up to eighteen years in state prison.

Horrific cases like these are one of the many reasons that our San Diego nursing home abuse attorneys advocate to thoroughly examine and analyze potential nursing or rest homes. Search through multiple residences, visit such facilities, and reference outside or third party sources. Insuring that you or your loved one is guaranteed a secure and comforting environment is pivotal. Of course, San Diego nursing home abuse is nothing to waver on. If you feel that there is mistreatment in regards to you or anyone you know, do not hesitate to contact us. We have the experience and care to help you manage this arduous and painful process.

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NIH Website Adds Information on Hip Replacements

Many local seniors eventually have trouble with their hips. For some, a hip replacement is recommended. Our Illinois elder care lawyers therefore understand that it is important for seniors (and their families) to educate themselves on these surgeries, understanding when they are needed, the alternatives, and the potential complications

New Hip Implant Resource
Fortunately, more and more resources are becoming available to help families learn about these issues in clear, straightforward ways. For example, a website from the National Institute of Health recently added a section related specifically to hip replacements. The main wellness website can be found at NIHSeniorHealth.gov. Please click here to go directly to the hip replacement page.

Various helpful information is provided on the site. For example, it explains how a doctor is likely to recommend alternatives before actually suggesting that a replacement surgery is the way to go. Often, things like a new exercise regime, walking aids,and medication offer better,less risky alternatives to correct hip problems.

The most common cause of the problems is osteoarthritis–when the cartilage breaks down that covers the ends of the bones at the point where they form joints. Fractures, tumors, arthritis, and other conditions can similarly cause pain in the area and perhaps counsel toward a hip replacement.

Risks
Hip replacements may offer needed relief to local seniors. However, our Chicago hip implant attorneys are very familiar with the harmful consequences facing those who have unintended consequences of their implants. One of the possible complications involve problems with the implant itself. The most widespread recent example of this is the recall of two types of hip implant systems manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics.

Nearly two years ago the company institute a recall of the two systems after rising concerns about the high failure rate of the systems. The system failed a various ways. At times the implants became dislodged from the body. At other times the parts of the “ball and socket” product (both metal) rubbed together to release particles into the body. These complications caused severe swelling and pain. This often made it difficult for patients to walk. On many occasions the only way to correct the problem was a revision surgery, which was costly and came with its own set of risks. While the exact number of affected patients is unclear, DePuy’s own website indicates that at least one in eight patients required revision surgery.

Our Chicago DePuy implant lawyers know that the failure of the product is attributable to a design flaw in the implant. Fortunately, when medical products have flawed designs that cause harm to patients, those patients are usually able to file lawsuits to recover for their loss. The recovery can provide support for things like medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. It remains important for local seniors who may have been hurt by these hip implants to seek out legal help to ensure their rights are protected.

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