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Friday, December 24, 2010

Illinois Nursing Homes Often Pay Small Percentage of Illinois Fines

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Alden network of nursing homes and other facilities often pay a small percentage of fines levied by the State of Illinois for violations of the state regulations for nursing homes. The Tribune investigation found that of a sample of nursing homes that care for disabled children only 21% of fines levied by the State were ultimately paid by the nursing homes.

It is important to note when the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act was enacted the Illinois legislature put into place strong protections for nursing home residents. Section 601 of the Act provides that a nursing home resident, or the family or guardian of the resident, may proceed with a civil lawsuit against a nursing home for any intentional or negligent act or omission by the staff at a nursing home. Section 602 of the Act provides that a negligent nursing home is responsible for any actual damages AND the attorney's fees in any case where the nursing home is found liable.

The significance of these sections of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is that a nursing home residents or their family/guardian are not limited to the disciplinary actions of the State of Illinois. The other option is to pursue a civil claim, which is most commonly referred to as a lawsuit. Due to these provisions in the Act, the lawsuit can be brought by retained an Illinois Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney. With the representation of the attorney, the nursing home can be pursued and the nursing home could be responsible for any damages they caused and the attorney's fees if the nursing home is found liable by a judge or jury.

Illinois Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney Mike Keating handles nursing home abuse and neglect cases on a contingency fee basis in accordance with the Illinois Rules of Professional Responsibility. This way the nursing home resident or their representatives are not forced to pay any attorney's fees or expenses in advance.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect, please contact Illinois Nursing Home Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

Viral Outbreak in Michigan Nursing Home Illustrates Risks

Reports of a viral outbreak in a Michigan nursing home illustrates the risk of wide-spread outbreak of viral disease in nursing homes. The risk of wide-spread outbreaks in nursing homes is high for two primary reasons: 1) the density of residents in a relatively small area; and 2) the diminished immune systems of many elderly or disabled residents. These two facts combine to create a "perfect storm" in nursing homes where wide-spread outbreaks of diseases are possible.

Illinois nursing homes have a responsibility to provide the highest level of care possible to its residents. This includes providing proper sanitary conditions and utilizing modern sanitation techniques. The risk of many viral diseases can be reduced with simple practices such as the nursing staff washing their hands after handling each residents and using common hand sanitizers. Unfortunately, many staff members in nursing homes do not bother to use these simple techniques and this leads to the spread of disease. A failure such as this is a very simple example of nursing home negligence.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect, please contact Illinois Nursing Home Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Study Finds That High Percentage of Nursing Home Residents Carry MRSA Superbug

The University of Chicago Press Journal has reported that a recent study of 10 nursing homes found that a staggering 31% of residents tested were carrying Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as the MRSA superbug. 31% is a higher rate than the rate found in hospitals and intensive care units.

Most interestingly, the study found that of the 10 nursing home studied, that the rates of MRSA varied widely by nursing home. The highest level was 52% and the low was 7%. This wide range lends itself to the idea that some nursing homes are much more capable at keeping the rates of MRSA low than others.

MRSA is a very dangerous and deadly superbug that is resistant to antibiotics. MRSA is most commonly spread by skin-to-skin contact and is highly spreadable in nursing home settings. Nursing homes have a duty to utilize modern sterilization techniques and best practices in reducing the risk of infection. Elderly residents are particularly susceptible to MRSA infections and, due to their age, often have weakened immune systems that can not combat the deadly infection.

These MRSA infections often lead to MRSA-sepsis. As discussed in this earlier post on www.ILNursingHomeAttorney.com, Sepsis is a very serious medical condition in which a person's bloodstream is overwhelmed with an infection. If sepsis is not diagnosed quickly, the affected person can experience organ failure and die. Sepsis can only be treated if it is diagnosed quickly and appropriately. 

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect, please contact Illinois Nursing Home Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

The above-referenced study is cited as follows:
Courtney Reynolds, Victor Quan, Diane Kim, Ellena Peterson, Julie Dunn, Matthew Whealon, Leah Terpstra, Hildy Meyers, Michele Cheung, Bruce Lee, and Susan S. Huang, "Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Carriage in 10 Nursing Homes in Orange County, California." Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 32:1.

IL Attorney General Continues "Operation Guardian" Sweeps of Nursing Homes

The Office of the Illinois Attorney General has continued its "Operation Guardian" sweeps of nursing homes. According to recent reports, "Operation Guardian" most recently conducted compliance checks at Wood Glen Nursing and Rehab Center in West Chicago and at Westmont Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. "Operation Guardian" is a multi-unit taskforce assembled to protect nursing home residents.

Many agencies take part in "Operation Guardian" including:
  • The Illinois Department on Aging’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Program which evaluates nursing homes to make sure that residents’ rights are not being violated. 
  • The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) conducts a compliance review of any identified nursing homes and evaluates any reported incidents within the last six months, and
  • The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation interviews nursing home administrators and performs a license check of all professionals (R.N.s, L.P.N.s, etc.) employed at the nursing facility.
In the recent sweep at Wood Glen Nursing and Rehab Center, investigators found one resident who had been reported as missing and arrested one employee and one resident based on outstanding warrants. At the Westmont Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, investigators arrested one employee based on an outstanding warrant. Nursing homes have a responsibility to check the background of their employees and their residents to ensure that potentially violent or dangerous individuals are not living or working in their facility. 
If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect, please contact Illinois Nursing Home Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

Alden Village North Makes Changes After Deaths of Residents

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the owners/operators of Alden Village North are claiming that they have made significant challenges to their often criticized facility. Alden Village North has been the subject of this intense criticism because of reports that thirteen children and young adults have died at the facility since 2000. These thirteen deaths resulted in state citations from the Illinois Department of Public Health for neglect or for failure on the part of the facility to properly and thoroughly investigate the death. Seven of the thirteen deaths occurred after the Alden corporation took over the facility. In addition to the thirteen deaths that resulted in state citations, at least eleven other residents of Alden Village North have died.

What is also notable about these instances is that the residents of Alden Village North are often disabled children, not senior citizens as is the case at most nursing homes. Regardless of age, a nursing home is liable in any instance where a resident is harmed as a result of abuse or neglect. Because of their age of disability, the condition of many nursing home residents changes frequently. Many times a nursing home neglects its residents by not timely evaluating their residents and making sure that the necessary changes are made to the Nursing Care Plan.  It is the responsibility of the nursing home to make these changes to the Nursing Care Plan so that the changes in condition are addressed. A failure to make these changes can lead to an allegation that the nursing home did not meet the nursing standard of care.

The Alden corporation has been the subject of numerous nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuits in Illinois that allege that various Alden nursing homes did not meet the nursing standard of care in their treatment of their residents. Illinois Nursing Home Attorney Mike Keating is currently handling several cases against Alden nursing homes that are based on allegations of nursing home neglect. If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect, please contact Illinois Nursing Home Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com. All initial consultations are confidential and free.