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Kentucky Care Facility Assistant Faces Abuse Charges for Fatal Fall

A former Kentucky nursing home assistant has been arrested and charged with reckless nursing home abuse of an adult after he failed to check a paralyzed patient’s medical requirements and let him fall, resulting in fatal injuries.

Lynwood C. Baur, 27, was working at Britthaven Nursing Home in Bell County when he dropped a male resident who was partially paralyzed due to a stroke. The patient’s medical plan required him to be moved by a lift or at least two staff members when he was placed in bed, but Baur told police that he failed to read the patient’s plan and decided to move the man by himself and placed him on the edge of the bed. The patient fell off of the bed when Baur turned away. Baur then allegedly ignored the nursing home’s policy of not moving a patient after a nursing home fall until they have been assessed for injuries and put the man to bed.

Other staff members came into the room after the fall and noticed the man had injuries to his head, ribs, shoulder, hip and leg. He was taken to a local hospital where he later died, according to state records acquired by local media.

Baur was arrested on Monday and is being held in lieu of $500,000 cash bond in the Bell County Detention Center. The charges are a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum possible jail time of one year. The charges against Baur were the result of an investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control, according to a story by LEX18 News.

Atlanta Nursing Home Chains Pay $14M to Settle Illegal Kickback Scheme Charges

Two Atlanta nursing home chains, Mariner Health Care Inc. and SavaSeniorCare Administrative Services LLC, have agreed to pay a combined $14 million to settle federal charges that they defrauded Medicare and Medicaid through the use of an illegal kickback scheme with Omnicare, the nation’s largest nursing home pharmaceutical supplier. Omnicare is the focus of multiple federal investigations, and has already reached a settlement for its alleged role in the scheme.

Federal prosecutors, tipped off by a whistleblower, accused the two chains of entering into an agreement that Omnicare would provide the companies with kickbacks if they would use Omnicare’s services for 15 years, according to the Chicago Tribune. Prosecutors said that the deal was disguised as a $50 million purchase by Omnicare of a small Mariner subsidiary with only two employees and of little value.

Officials with SavaSeniorCare, a subsidiary of Mariner, say that SavaSeniorCare did not contribute to the settlement. In November Omnicare agreed to a $98 million settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to settle this and other charges against it. None of the companies admitted wrongdoing as part of the settlements.

Family Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit with Missoula Nursing Home

The family of an 87-year old Missoula nursing home resident who died from a blood infection after breaking his neck in a nursing home fall has reached a settlement with two Montana care facilities, according to a story in the Great Falls Tribune.

Relatives of Ralph Seewald dropped a wrongful death lawsuit against Riverside Health Care Center and the Village Health Care Center after reaching a settlement in the middle of an ongoing trial in Missoula District Court. The trial had been expected to enter its last day on Tuesday. The details of the settlement are confidential and have not been made public.

Seewald suffered a broken neck while being moved out of a wheelchair so that he could use the toilet at Village Health Care Center in 2005. While recovering from the injury, he died of a blood infection the family claimed was due to untreated bedsores. Seewald’s family claimed that the nursing home failed to take the proper precautions against nursing home falls, left pressure sores untreated for months until Seewald developed gangrene in his leg, and then failed to notify the family of his deteriorating condition. A nurse had allegedly told the family that Seewald’s records were altered to indicate that bandages over his pressure sores were regularly changed when they were not.

Most experts agree that nursing home bedsores are preventable illnesses that can be avoided by regularly changing the position of a bedridden patient and through regular inspections of the patient by competent staff. Early bedsores appear as patches of red and irritated skin, but can develop into open, oozing and blistering wounds if left untreated. Once the sore has penetrated all of the layers of the skin, the patient is at high risk for a blood infection that can prove fatal.

Police Investigate Florida Nursing Home for Not Treating Injured Resident

Police are investigating a Florida retirement home for potential nursing home neglect charges after the facility allegedly failed to provide treatment for 12 hours to a resident who suffered severe injuries.

The investigation against Ridgecrest Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center by DeLand police was sparked after a woman at the facility allegedly fell out of bed at 5 a.m. last month as her bedding was being changed, police say. However, emergency personnel were not called in until nearly 5 p.m. later that day after a shift change, according to a story in the Daytona Beach News-Journal. At that time she was admitted to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach with a broken shoulder and two broken legs due to the nursing home fall.

Ridgecrest is owned by Graystone Healthcare Management, a for-profit nursing home franchise that manages 28 Florida care facilities. The nursing home’s last inspection in October resulted in nine deficiencies, including problems with accident hazards and food storage. The incident is also under review by the Agency for Health Care Administration, a regional nursing home oversight agency that monitors retirement homes in Flagler and Volusia Counties.

Jury Finds for Illinois Care Facility in Nursing Home Negligence Trial

A Madison County, Illinois jury ruled in favor of an Illinois nursing home last week in a nursing home negligence lawsuit brought by the family of a patient who developed a foot ulcer.

The lawsuit, filed against Rosewood Care Center of Edwardsville by Martha Flanary, the widow of former Rosewood patient Gerald Flanary, accused the retirement home of violating standards of care by allowing Flanary to develop an ulcer on his foot in 2003. However, attorneys for the nursing home said that the ulcer developed as a result of Flanary’s diabetes and vascular disease, according to an article in the Madison County Record. The lawsuit also alleged that nursing home officials failed to notify his next of kin when Flanary’s condition worsened, in violation of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.

The act requires that a nursing home facility “immediately notify the resident’s next of kin, representative and physician of the resident’s death or when the resident’s death appears to be imminent.” The act is enforced by the Illinois Department of Public Health and affects all facilities that provide nursing or personal care to three or more people in the state of Illinois. Most states have similar laws.

Martha Flanary’s lawsuit sought $50,000 in damages. The jury found in favor of Rosewood after four hours of deliberation.

Task Force Proposes Sweeping Illinois Care Facility Reforms

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s nursing home safety task force has issued a report that recommends a broad range of substantive changes to how Illinois manages and licenses its nursing facilities. The changes have been prompted by an ongoing investigation by The Chicago Tribune, which has highlighted nursing home abuses and failures in a system that places young mentally ill criminals in close proximity with elderly retirement home residents.

The task force determined that the state’s nursing homes are designed for elderly residents, and not for containing mentally ill criminals who may be violent. “The mix of vulnerable and potentially aggressive residents in close quarters is toxic, as the tragic reports of violence highlighted,” the report’s executive summary states. As a result, the task force is calling for mentally ill patients to be segregated from the elderly populations, and in most cases, put in completely separate facilities.

The task force is recommending that all of the state’s nursing homes which care for residents with serious mental illness be required to seek new certification. Those facilities would have to show that they have successfully segregated the elderly residents from the mentally ill, and will have to prove that their staff is properly trained to deal appropriately with any dangerous residents they may house.

The task force is also recommending new rules on the use of psychotropic drugs, following numerous complaints that some care facilities are using antipsychotics as ”chemical restraints” to keep residents docile. A new working group would be formed to develop a state-wide policy on the use of such drugs.

The report also recommends that the state double the number of housing units it has available for mentally ill residents who are capable of living in a community setting. Currently, Illinois has 5,000 such housing units. The new units would take pressure off of other care facilities who have been allocated mentally ill patients who had nowhere else to go.

The task force gave state health officials until April 30 to begin implementing the new nursing home regulations, which will require the drafting of new rules and, in some cases, will require new legislation. The task force says that while most of the changes will be cost-neutral, they are seeking an increase in licensing fees and are looking to add nearly 80 new nursing home inspectors to the state’s payroll.

Montana Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawsuit Trial Begins

According to the family of Ralph Seewald, the 87-year-old resident of Village Health Care Center, a Missoula, Montana nursing home, was allowed to fall from his wheelchair while transferring to the toilet, breaking his neck. He survived that, only to be left to develop untreated bedsores and eventually dying from an untreated infection in November 2005. After his death, the family says, staff at the nursing home were ordered to alter his medical records to make it look like Seewald received good care.

Attorneys for the family presented that scenario to jurors  in Missoula District Court in the opening of a nursing home wrongful death trial last week against Village Health Care Center and Riverside Health Care Center, both places where Seewald was a resident before his death. The lawsuit charges both facilities, and the Goodman Group, with responsibility for Seewald’s death. The Goodman Group manages both nursing homes.

According to a story in the Missoulian, Seewald’s son claims that the nursing home failed to take the proper precautions against nursing home falls, left pressure sores untreated for months until Seewald developed gangrene in his leg, and then failed to notify the family of his deteriorating condition. A nurse has allegedly told the family that Seewald’s records were altered to indicate that bandages over his pressure sores were regularly changed when they were not.

Seewald’s condition was not discovered until he was hospitalized, and doctors discovered the untreated pressure ulcers and gangrene in his leg, which they had to amputate. He died less than a month later at a hospice facility. The wrongful death lawsuit charges the facilities with negligence, deceit, fraud, medical malpractice.

Most experts agree that nursing home bedsores are preventable illnesses that can be avoided by regularly changing the position of a bedridden patient and through regular inspections of the patient by competent staff. Early bedsores appear as patches of red and irritated skin, but can develop into open, oozing and blistering wounds if left untreated. Once the sore has penetrated all of the layers of the skin, the patient is at high risk for a blood infection that can prove fatal.

Investigators Seek Answers to New Orleans Nursing Home Fire Death

New Orleans fire investigators are struggling to determine the cause of a fire earlier this month in a Louisiana retirement home that killed a 77-year old resident.

Hubert Ellis, a resident of Crescent City Health Care, was in his bed when a fire started in his room earlier this month. Ellis died several days after suffering burns to more than 80 percent of his body, according to a story by WDSU.com. Investigators say they have found a pair of lighters in the charred remains of Ellis’s bed, where it appears the fire started, but relatives say Ellis did not smoke. One other occupant who was in the room at the time has claimed not to have been involved in the blaze.

The nursing home fire death has also caught the attention of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Crescent City Health Care officials say they cannot comment on the investigation while it is underway. Family members have said they believe that Ellis died because he was unattended, however fire investigators say they have not yet determined if his death is a case of nursing home neglect.

A report released in January rated Louisiana as the state with the worst rated nursing homes in the nation. Of the 280 nursing homes in the state, only 4.3% received a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The national average was more than 12% per state. Crescent Center received an average rating from federal investigators, receiving three out of five stars in all categories.

Chapel Hill Nursing Home Death and Illnesses Spark Investigation, Concerns

Administrators of a North Carolina nursing home have launched an internal investigation into the death of one patient and illnesses among several others in its Alzheimer’s unit after a local hospital contacted police regarding the illnesses.

Questions have been raised about illnesses and a fatality at the Britthaven of Chapel Hill nursing home after several of the patients were hospitalized. University of North Carolina Hospital officials contacted the Chapel Hill police department after examining the patients from the nursing home’s Alzheimer’s unit and finding that several of them tested positive for opiates. The fatality was determined to have been caused by pneumonia.

Chapel Hill police say have not found evidence of a crime, and that they will not launch an investigation until state regulators have had the chance to look into the situation, and state officials do not announce investigations and inspections in advance. Officials from the nursing home have said they will release more information on the illnesses in the near future, according to The News and Observer. In the interim, they have temporarily replaced the entire nursing staff in the 33-bed Alzheimer’s unit with workers from other Britthaven facilities across the state.

Britthaven of Chapel Hill is listed as a special focus facility by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services due to its poor federal performance rating. The for-profit 133-bed facility received one star out of five stars by federal investigators, the lowest rating possible. It earned the lowest marks investigators could give for health inspections, and also rated poorly for nursing staff.

Illinois Nursing Home Faces Decertification Due to Numerous Violations

Federal investigators are stripping an Illinois nursing home of its Medicare and Medicaid certifications, dooming it to almost certainly close its doors, after inspections repeatedly found incidents of nursing home neglect and poor care.

Fox River Pavilion in Aurora, Illinois, will lose its certification from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid on March 11, unless owners are successful in appealing the decision. Federal investigators made the decision after health officials repeatedly found “serious problems” at the facility. As recently as December, state inspectors were called out to investigate the nursing home after 57-year-old Randall Moons died from a heart attack after an altercation with his roommate, according to the Beacon-News.

State officials say that part of the problem is that the facility houses the elderly alongside mentally unstable residents with criminal histories of violence and sexual abuse. Investigators say that Fox River Pavilion staff did nothing to address issues with violent residents in care plans and made no attempt to provide special monitoring of their activities. They also said that low staffing levels contribute to the frequent violations. Family members say that the residents are allowed to wander into and out of any room they wish, altercations are frequent, and residents fear having personal possessions stolen.

Administrators at the 121-bed facility say they will fight the decertification, and are awaiting the results of an inspection performed this month. If the facility is decertified, it will no longer receive medicare reimbursements, meaning residents would have to pay out-of-pocket to stay there. State officials have said they will help residents relocate.

The state’s concerns highlight ongoing reports in Chicago media about deplorable conditions at many of the state’s nursing homes, partly due to the state’s practice of housing mentally ill criminals in the same facilities as the elderly.