Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Keating Law Offices Settles Nursing Home Neglect Case

Keating Law Offices has successfully settled a lawsuit on behalf of an Illinois nursing home resident against a nursing home located on the South Side of Chicago. The claim alleged that the nursing home violated numerous Illinois state and federal laws when it failed to properly supervise residents. This alleged failure resulted in a March 2010 incident in which a disabled resident was the victim of an unprovoked attacked by another patient of the facility.

The lawsuit alleged that the victim-resident suffered multiple severe injuries due to the violent attack, including head injuries. Further, the claim alleged that the nursing home provider failed to adequately provide medical treatment and follow-up care to the victim. The rights of nursing home residents in the state of Illinois are protected under both state and federal laws. In Illinois, a nursing home is required to not only protect residents from being abused directly by employees of the nursing home facility, but to also protect residents from abuse caused by other residents. Under federal law, nursing homes are required to provide a level of care that promotes the quality of life of each resident. All nursing home residents have the right to be “free from physical or mental abuse.” A nursing home that fosters an unsafe and dangerous environment which permits one patient to physically attack another is clearly in violation of this duty.

Under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, a nursing home or long-term care facility is liable if it fails to provide proper medical treatment to a resident. A delay in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries due to abuse in a nursing home, as was alleged in this case, is a violation of a nursing home’s duties under Illinois law. Once a nursing home becomes aware that a resident has been injured by another resident it has additional duties it must fulfill to the patient and the patient’s family. These legal obligations include: conducting a thorough investigation; evaluating what steps must be taken to create an environment that prevents the perpetrator from continuing to cause injury to other residents; informing the victim resident’s family of the incident; and reporting the incident to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Keating Law Offices has successfully obtained settlements on behalf of victims of nursing home abuse, including additional claims of injuries and abuse allegedly perpetrated by other nursing home residents. Due to the terms of the settlement agreement between the resident and the nursing home, the identity of the parties and further details are confidential.

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.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Keating Law Offices Conducts Free Legal Fair at Englewood Church

On Sunday, November 4th, the law firm of Keating Law Offices, P.C. conducted a free legal fair at the Original Holy Ark M.B. Church in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood at 63rd and Morgan. The event was sponsored by the Geneva Scott Outreach Services and done with the assistance of Dr. Sammy Davis and the Rev. Michael A. Simmons of the church. Attorneys from Keating Law Offices addressed the congregation and participated in free legal counseling sessions with dozens of church members and other members of the local community.

"We are very honored that of all the law firms in Chicago that Ms. Scott, Pastor Davis and Rev. Simmons chose Keating Law Offices to participate in this event. It was a privilege to meet so many members of the church and to have an opportunity to assist them with their legal needs. The citizens of the Englewood neighborhood often do not receive the support and structure that they need and it was an opportunity to help bridge this gap and provide some free legal counseling." 

Keating Law Offices is a Chicago-based firm of trial attorneys that focuses its practice on personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and nursing home negligence cases. The firm may be found on the web at www.KeatingLegal.com or by phone at 312-239-6787.
All initial consultations are confidential and free.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Disgusting Act of Abuse by Caregiver Recorded on Cellphone

Last month a disturbing cellphone video surfaced showing a group home caregiver physically abusing a mentally disabled resident in Connecticut. According to CNN, the video, which was sent anonymously to the operators of the group home, shows the care taker kicking the woman in the gut, whipping her with a belt, and dragging her across the floor by the hair.  Angelica Rivera, 33, admitted to police she was the caregiver depicted in the video abusing the resident, who functions at the level of a fourth grader. 

Rivera was arrested on July 11th and charged with cruelty to persons, first-degree unlawful restraint, second-degree intimidation based on bigotry or bias, third-degree assault, disorderly contact and third-degree abuse. Previously, Rivera had been disciplined twice for failing to report neglect or abuse. 

This is yet another reminder of the how vulnerable the elderly and disabled population are. Although this was rare instance where the incident was caught on tape, residents of nursing homes and patients that receive in-home care are commonly victims of physical abuse at the hands of those caregivers that are suppose to protect them.

Keating Law Offices fights to protect the rights of nursing home residents who have been victimized by their caregivers. 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.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Goodwill Home Healthcare Indicted for Allegedly Accepting Kickbacks

According to news outlets, operators of a home health care service in Lincolnwood, Illinois have been indicted on charges for allegedly seeking patient referrals in exchange for kickbacks. The operators of Goodwill Home Healthcare, Inc, Marilyn Maravilla and Junjee L. Arroyo, allegedly conspired to set up a system of kickbacks and Medicare patient referrals with nurses, marketers, and themselves that allowed them to bill Medicare in an amount of roughly $5 million. Included in the indictment charges for their participation in the kickback conspiracy are licensed nurse, Ferdinand Echavia, and marketers, Jean Holloway and Rakeshkumar Shah.

A system of tiered kickback payments disguised as bonuses was allegedly the method by which Maravilla and Arroyo were able to not only condone this illegal activity but actively reward it. For example, according to a circulated memo within Goodwill, a $100 bonus would be awarded to the nurse who re-certified a patient for a third cycle of home health care, regardless of whether it was necessary for the patient. Such gross abuse of the health care system was reportedly condemned by the U.S. Attorney's office: "These services should be based on medical necessity, and on what’s in the patients’ best interests, and not based on whether or not someone in the medical industry is receiving a kickback."

The investigation and the resulting indictment of Goodwill Home Healthcare, Inc is the result of a year long federal strike force operation in Chicago whose responsibility it was to seek out health care defrauders. The Illinois Nursing Home Attorneys at Keating Law Offices wholeheartedly support such law enforcement operations that investigate alleged gross abuse of the health care system at the expense of those who rely upon the implicit trust in the quality of services they will be provided. All the defendants indicted in this kickback conspiracy scheme are scheduled to arraigned on August 22, 2012. We will be sure to update this blog with news as it is released.

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 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All emails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are always confidential and free.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Illinois Laws Aim to Protect Seniors

Illinois has once again demonstrated a commitment to protecting senior citizens. On July 28, 2012 Governor Quinn signed into law several new measures in an effort to promote safety, increase oversight and accountability for caregivers and help authorities identify and respond to reports to reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. As the elderly population continues to grow and awareness of elder abuse increases, lawmakers continue to strive to protect vulnerable seniors from being taken advantage of by their purported "caretakers."

“Our seniors deserve our respect and protection against those who would take advantage of them,” Governor Quinn said. “Safeguarding seniors from exploitation and abuse will make our state stronger.” You can learn more about the new Illinois nursing home laws by clicking here.

Sadly, nursing home residents continue to be frequent victims of abuse and neglect. Keating Law Offices is committed to protecting the rights and pursing justice for nursing home abuse and neglect victims. 

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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Abbott Pharmaceuticals Alleged to Have Promoted Depakote as a Chemical Restraint

Abbott Pharmaceuticals manufactures a medicine called Depakote. This drug was approved by the FDA to treat mild seizures, manic bipolar disorder, and certain types of migraines. However, in a recent lawsuit, several Abbott employees allege that Abbott illegally promoted its drugs for other uses not approved by the FDA. Specifically these employees alleged that Abbott encouraged doctors to prescribe Depakote to nursing home patients as a chemical sedative to combat aggression associated with dementia. This is known as a "chemical restraint", a drug used to subdue a patient. It is further alleged that Abbott gave kickbacks to doctors who were willing to promote Depakote for these improper or “off-label” uses, and even trained those doctors to label their diagnoses in a certain way so that Depakote appeared to be a justified prescription.

This is just one of many examples in which drug manufacturers have been accused of encouraging doctors to prescribe drugs for “off-label” purposes in order to try to exploit nursing home residents (and their Medicaid benefits) at the expense of the patients’ welfare. In light of these allegations Illinois has created the Nursing Home Safety Task Force to try to combat the improper use of chemical restraints. In its final report, the task force acknowledges that the current practice of allowing “off-label” prescriptions to be administered in the sole discretion of nursing home staff is problematic has led to numerous complaints. In response, the Task Force specifically called for the State to “[d]evelop a policy to assure proper use of psychotropic drugs for people with serious mental illness and dementia.”

The attorneys at Keating Law Offices support the Task Force’s recommendations. The improper and indiscriminate use of chemical restraints is a dangerous practice that not only endangers the safety of nursing home residents but also violates their rights under the
Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. The personal injury attorneys at Keating Legal are here to fight for those rights; if you are concerned that a friend or loves one is being prescribe improper or excessive medication, or has been injured as a result of improper chemical restraint please contact Illinois Nursing Home Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

The Use of "Chemical Restraints" in Nursing Homes

It is an unfortunate reality that due to some medical conditions nursing home residents can become aggressive and pose a threat to other residents, staff and even themselves. Nursing homes and doctors use a number of interventions, procedures and devices used to deal with a problem, to deal with these situations. One controversial intervention is the use of restraints. Traditionally restraints were physical ones such as belts, safety-bars, and straight-jackets used to secure a resident in a non-threatening position.

However, the use of "chemical restraints" has became widespread. "Chemical restraints" are not physical, rather it is the use of anti-seizure, anti-psychotic, and sedative drugs to subdue a resident.
The ease of use of prescription drugs as chemical restraints creates the potential for widespread abuse. Not only is the unwarranted administration of prescription drugs harder to detect than the improper use of physical restraints, but when used incorrectly chemical restraints have greater potential to cause serious injuries and in some cases even death.

Federal Laws prohibit the use of inappropriate chemical restraints on nursing home patients unless it is truly necessary to treat a medial condition.
However, these very laws have often failed to adequately protect nursing home patients because they not mandate sufficient practical regulations for those who actually come into contact with nursing home patients, and unfortunately, the pattern of overuse of chemical restraints is still widespread.

The laws do not properly regulate the doctors who prescribe drugs to nursing home patients. Before a new drug is introduced into the marketplace, the Food and Drug Administration undertakes clinical tests to determine whether that drug is safe. Based upon these clinical trials, the FDA then decides whether to approve that drug, and specifically what specific conditions it should be used for. Under current law, drug manufactures can neither promote any unapproved uses nor include those uses in any of the instructions. However, the laws do not prevent doctors from prescribing the drug for these unapproved uses, in fact that practice (known as “off-label” prescription) is common. Second, the laws do not adequately supervise the nursing home staff. So long as a doctor has given a valid prescription, nursing home staff can administer the drug without getting further approval from either the doctor, and in some cases the patient. This lack of oversight creates a real potential for the abuse of nursing homes residents.

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.

Resident With Dementia Dies After Wandering Away from Midwest Rehab in Belleville

The Belleville News Democrat is reporting that Illinois Department of Public Health investigators are looking into the death of 75-year old Aubrey Giles. Mr. Giles was a resident at Midwest Rehabilitation and Respiratory Care in Belleville, IL. Mr. Giles was a resident because he required nursing care and supervision due to suffering from dementia and heart disease.

Mr. Giles wandered away from the nursing home on Saturday and his body was found Monday morning in a creek approximately one block from the nursing home. According to the report, over 4 hours passed between the time he went missing and the nursing home reporting his absence from the home.

Incidents such as these are referred to as "elopement" and residents who suffer from dementia, such as Mr. Giles, are often referred to as "wanderers." These are specific terms used in the nursing community. Nursing homes have a duty to properly assess patients for risk of elopement. In addition, nursing homes have the duty to implement "interventions" such as increased levels of supervision, alarms, video cameras and secured doors to prevent situations such as this tragic one involving Mr. Giles from occurring.

The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is often one of the most difficult decisions a family faces. The decision often turns on the belief that the nursing home will be able to provide superior levels of nursing care and supervision than the family can provide. Unfortunately, when the nursing homes do not provide superior levels of nursing care and supervision, tragic events like this one take place.

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act provides that if a resident of a nursing home is injured or killed as a result of the negligence of the nursing home, then the nursing home is responsible for the damages suffered by the resident or their family. 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 312-239-6787 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com. All initial consultations are confidential and free.