Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect

Early one morning in late August, an 82-year-old woman wandered away from her Batesburg, SC, nursing home. She was found nearly eight hours later; fortunately, she was unharmed. If this incident had occurred during winter weather, or if she had wandered into the path of a vehicle, the outcome could have been tragic.

In elder care terminology, this nursing home resident “eloped.” The National Institute for Elopement Prevention and Resolution defines elopement as “when a patient wanders away, walks away, runs away, escapes, or otherwise leaves a care-giving facility or environment unsupervised, unnoticed, and/or prior to their scheduled discharge.” Another term sometimes used is “critical wandering.”

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In 1791, James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights to provide constitutional protection for individual liberties and prevent the abuse of governmental power. Nearly 200 years later, in 1987, the federal Nursing Home Reform Law was written to include the guarantee of certain rights to some of our country’s most vulnerable citizens — nursing home residents. All nursing homes which participate in Medicare or Medicaid must meet the requirements of this bill of rights. Additionally, some states – South Carolina included – have enacted state laws to protect the rights of residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult care homes.

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Columbia Hospital Injury

Bed rails are metal bars used on the sides of beds to keep sleeping people from rolling out onto the floor. They’re most often used by parents of small children or families and caregivers of the elderly. While they may help prevent a rude awakening, they can also inflict injuries and death when a person becomes entrapped or strangled by the device.

According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), there are about 2.5 million hospital and nursing home beds in use in the United States, many of which are equipped with bed rails, and hospital-type beds are also often used in residences where elderly patients receive home health care. Bed rails used in these situations are considered medical devices and are overseen by the FDA. The agency provides manufacturers of bed rails with guidance on the design of safe and effective hospital beds and bed rails and requires manufacturers to adhere to certain medical device regulations, such as the timely reporting to the FDA of problems associated with bedrails.

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An August 4 article in the New York Times brings to light the danger many nursing home patients face as a result of inadequate dental hygiene. It quotes Dr. Sarah J. Dirks, a San Antonio dentist who treats nursing home residents, who says that the lack of daily oral care in nursing facilities is “an epidemic that’s almost universally overlooked..

More nursing home residents require dental care than in the past, because more seniors are keeping their natural teeth due to advances in hygiene and fluoridation programs. But aides and other caregivers often fail to provide nursing home patients with dental assistance because of the many other needs of toileting, dressing, and eating which take precedence.

Poor dental hygiene can lead to a host of other physical problems, some of which can be especially dangerous in the elderly population. One such ailment is pneumonia. A study published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that about one in 10 cases of death from pneumonia in nursing homes could be prevented by improving oral hygiene. Untreated oral infections also increase the risk of diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease, according to PrevMED Dental Case Management. Dental problems can cause weight loss and increased frailty, as well.

A Pickens County nursing home is back in the news again – and not in a good way.

Thirty-six elderly patients at Majesty Health and Rehab in Easley were forced from their rooms in the middle of the night because of a gas leak.

Each year there are more than 20,000 complaints of elder care abuse in South Carolina retirement homes.

Too many U.S. nursing homes are using dangerously strong antipsychotic drugs to keep patients with dementia drugged, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In fact, 2010 data shows that 17 percent of nursing home patients had daily doses above recommended levels.

Claire Curry, a consumer advocate, said, “The drugging of nursing home residents has long been a national disgrace..

To help curb the misuse of drugs in nursing homes and elder care facilities, CMS announced that it’s beginning a Partnership to Improve Dementia Care, which will include efforts to eliminate drug misuse for dementia patients. Officials say they hope the program will help reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs by 15 percent before the end of 2012.

Columbia, S.C., March 01, 2012 – Reacting to a Charleston TV station’s recent report, South Carolina nursing home abuse attorney Bert Louthian said today that the state’s nursing homes should alert residents and their families when a registered sex offender moves into the facility.

Louthian also said that nursing home operators need to take more steps to guard against sexual abuse in long-term care facilities.

“Sexual abuse in nursing homes poses a grave threat to residents,” Louthian said. “Placing known sex offenders in a facility without issuing alerts or installing safeguards increases the risk that a resident will become a victim of nursing home sexual abuse..

The family of an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and several other conditions, received $91.5 million in damages from a Charleston, West Virginia nursing home. The elderly woman was a patient for just three weeks at Heartland of Charleston nursing home where the workers failed to feed and care for her leading to her death just one day after transferring to another facility.

The lawsuit alleged that while living with her son, the woman’s health had improved to where she could walk, speak and recognize family members. However, when she was checked into Heartland the staff confined the woman to a wheelchair, labeling her a fall risk.

The family’s lawyer argued that Heartland did not have enough staff to properly care for the woman and the other patients. Some former Heartland workers testified properly caring for all of the residents was impossible.