South Carolina Nursing Home Blog

South Carolina Nursing Home Blog

Nursing Home Information & Litigation

Inability to Pay Cost of Arbitration

Posted in Arbitration

The 9th Circuit in  Tillman v. Tillman, 2016 WL 3343785 (9th Cir. June 15, 2016) allowed a claimant to proceed in court after her arbitration had been terminated due to her inability to pay the arbitration fees.

The case involved a client’s malpractice claim which was stayed by the federal court after the victim was forced into arbitration. However, the plaintiff was unable to pay the $18,562.50 fee the American Arbitration Association (AAA) required to administer the claim.  The arbitrator terminated the arbitration as a result of nonpayment.

Defendants asked the court to dismiss the Complaint for failure to prosecute. The court reviewed evidence and confirmed the client was unable to pay the AAA fee, but dismissed her case anyway.  However, the Ninth Circuit found the district court erred when it dismissed the client’s claim. It found nothing in the FAA or binding precedent that required dismissal of the litigation.  Therefore, it enforced a district court’s usual obligation to decide cases properly before it.

It commented:

Our decision that Tillman’s case may proceed does not mean that parties may refuse to arbitrate by choosing not to pay for arbitration.  If Tillman had refused to pay for arbitration despite having the capacity to do so, the district court probably could still have sought to compel arbitration under [Section 4 of the FAA].


Nursing Labor Market Competitive, Increase in Pay

Posted in Staffing, Trial themes

McKnight’s reported great news for registered nurses in nursing home.  Pay rates for registered nurses working in skilled nursing facilities rallied in 2016, with employers awarding raises at levels not seen in years. It’s a reflection of the competitive market for RNs, believes Rosanne Zabka, director of reports for Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service, which annually conducts the largest annual nursing home survey of its kind.

With RNs, we saw a lot of increases, up to 10%,” Zabka told McKnight’s on Monday. “We saw a lot of 4%, 5% and 6%. It’s been years since we’ve seen a four.  The increase in pay does not seem to include CNAs who perform 90-95% of all direct care to residents.

The Nursing Home Salary & Benefits Report 2016-2017 was by HCS, which produces the annual publication in cooperation with LeadingAge and support from the nursing home industry lobbyist American Health Care Association. It includes data from more than 155,300 employees of 2,076 participating nursing homes

The jump comes amid rising turnover rates among RNs, according to HCS. RN turnover was pegged at 27.55% in 2014; 29.0% in 2015; and 31.17% in 2016.  Higher turnover leads to less quality of care.

Average hourly pay for RN staff nurses rose from $26.43 to $27.19 among facilities that took part in both the 2015 and 2016 surveys. The national average for staff RNs among all facilities taking part was $27.62 (gauged at the 50th percentile).

Other averages at the 50th percentile for all facilities nationwide were: Charge Staff Nurses (RN level) — $26.97; Practical Nurses (LPN) — $21.42; Charge Staff Nurses (LPN) — $20.70; and Certified Nurse Aides — $12.33.

Nursing home administrator salaries across the country increased 3.78% over the past year, when using a same-facility comparison.


Sharing Videos of Abuse and Neglect

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Advocacy, Staffing, Trial themes

Fox59 reported on the shocking videos of abuse and neglect being shared on social media by nursing home employees.  An updated report from independent investigative non-profit ProPublica shows cases of elder abuse and privacy invasion are growing.

They found another 12 incidents investigated by local governments during the first seven months of 2016. That’s as many as there were during all of 2015.  In some of the cases, Ball State professor John Strauss says the videos confirm some families’ worst fears.  A congressional study found 30 percent of nursing homes were cited for abuse over a two-year period.  Strauss believes these pictures and video are making it harder to ignore that sobering statistic.

It is an affirmation that the people concerned about the welfare of their seniors, you know, have reason to be,” said Strauss.

The abuse of patients is terrible in its own light,” said Strauss. “The sadly depressing thing is that people are sharing this with their friends. It’s good that this has come to light you know, because it does shed light on the greater problem of care of our elderly.”

“These organizations simply need to ban these devices from areas in which folks are getting care,” said Strauss.

See the recent CMS memo Social Media with guidelines for facilities to stop this gross invasion of privacy.




Choking Death

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Staffing reported the tragic and preventable choking death of nursing home resident Maureen A. Bali.  She was a resident at Huntington Living Center.  Bali was diagnosed with dementia and wore dentures to bite and chew solid foods.  The family is suing because their mother choked on a grilled cheese sandwich and died.  Huntington staff “negligently, carelessly and recklessly fed” Bali the food without her dentures, according to the lawsuit. She died on Dec. 22.

On Dec. 19, 2015, Bali was fed a grilled cheese sandwich as a meal but did not have her dentures in her mouth to help her chew the food. Bali choked on the sandwich, aspirated and stopped breathing, the lawsuit said.  Apparently none of the staff supervised or assisted the resident with eating the sandwich.

Officials at Finger Lakes Health, which oversees Huntington Living Center, declined to comment on this lawsuit.


Temporary Manager Appointed at Troubled Facility

Posted in Regulatory enforcement, Trial themes

The Sentinel reported that Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has placed a temporary manager at the Golden Living nursing home on Poplar Church Road in Camp Hill after ABC27 reported on inspections showing hygiene issues and medication errors in the facility, along with an incident involving maggots in a patient’s feeding tube.  The manager has been at the facility since July 19.

 The Department of Health says several substantiated complaints and “potential for resident harm” led to the decision to place a temporary manager at the facility.   The temporary manager’s job is to evaluate practices and advise management about changes that need to be made.

Heroin Overdose at Golden Living Center

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Staffing

A 64-year-old nursing home resident at the Golden Living Center overdosed on heroin last week.  LaPorte police reported two staff members at the Golden Living Center found the woman on the floor looking confused and bleeding from her nose. The woman had taken heroin, according to police.
 Police said a small amount of the drug was then located inside her purse. She also said a man related to another resident of the nursing home gave her the heroin, telling her to “take a little,” police said. The woman was transported to LaPorte Hospital and later a treatment facility.


New CDC Recommendations on Opioid Prescriptions Send Stern Message to Physicians Nationwide

Posted in Uncategorized

Read below for an article originally published for Summit Behavioral Health, here


The leading public health agency in the United States is urging doctors to stop prescribing opioids for patients suffering from chronic pain, noting that the risks of taking such drugs far outweigh the benefits.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published updated guidelines for distributing these powerful, highly addictive drugs. Vicodin and OxyContin are two prescriptions included in the guidelines. These measures come as a result of the nation’s prescription painkiller epidemic, which the CDC says poses a compelling threat to the health of the country. Continue Reading

Ban Mandatory Arbitration in Consumer Contracts

Posted in Arbitration

The M Report had an article about sixty-five House members support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s proposed rule to prohibit the use of forced arbitration in consumer contracts.   See letter to CFPB Director Richard Cordray.

“In May, the CFPB proposed a rule that would ban class action waivers in forced arbitration agreements for financial products and services, thus paving the way for consumers to file class action lawsuits against businesses they believe have harmed them financially. The House Democrats wrote in their letter that the proposal “is a critical step to protect the public interest by ensuring that consumers receive redress for systemic unlawful conduct.”

“By restricting class actions and class-wide arbitration in consumer contracts, these clauses enable corporations to avoid public scrutiny by precluding access to the courts.”

Letter written by 65 House members

“By restricting class actions and class-wide arbitration in consumer contracts, these clauses enable corporations to avoid public scrutiny by precluding access to the courts,” the letter stated. “This is particularly problematic for small, diffuse misconduct that harms innumerous consumers.” The lawmakers encouraged Cordray to proceed quickly on the rule “to ensure that consumers have equal protection under the law.”



Genesis $52.7 Million Settlement with DOJ

Posted in Medicare, Regulatory enforcement, Staffing, Trial themes

McKnight’s reported that national for profit nursing home chain Genesis Healthcare has agreed to settle with the DOJ for $52.7 million under an “agreement in principle” to settle four separate U.S. Department of Justice investigations.  The provider currently operates nursing homes in 34 states and employs nearly 90,000 workers nationwide.

The settlement will resolve allegations over inadequate staffing numbers at several of the provider’s long-term care facilities from 2005 through 2013, along with allegations of billing fraud for hospice services. The settlement covers alleged Medicare rule violations for physical therapy at two subsidiaries owned by Genesis.

Genesis said it has already set aside $39.1 million for the settlement, but it expects to record an additional loss contingency expense of $13.6 million in the second quarter of 2016 as a result of the lawsuits. They added that they plan to pay the full amount over a period of five years.


Owner/Operator Arrested for Medicare Fraud

Posted in Advocacy, Regulatory enforcement, Staffing, Trial themes

CNBC reported the “largest single criminal health-care fraud case ever brought against individuals” by the U.S. Justice Department — an alleged Medicare fraud and money laundering scheme that netted participants a whopping $1 billion since 2009.  Philip Esformes, the owner of more than 30 Miami-area skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, as well as a hospital administrator and a physician’s assistant were charged in an indictment with conspiracy, money laundering and health-care fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Miami said.  “Esformes is alleged to have been at the top of a complex and profitable health-care fraud scheme that resulted in staggering losses — in excess of $1 billion,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro. Prosecutors say that Esformes operated the Esformes Network for “more than 14 years … to enrich himself through false and fraudulent billings.”

The indictments claim that the massive scam cycled thousands of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries through his Esformes Network facilities despite the fact they didn’t qualify for such care and helped Esformes, fund a lavish Trumpian lifestyle that included private jets, a $600,000 watch, meetings with escorts in hotel rooms, and a private basketball coach for his son.

At those facilities, prosecutors said, they also “received medically unnecessary services that were billed to Medicare and Medicaid,” the government-run health programs that cover senior citizens and the poor.

“Furthermore, Defendant [Esformes] and his co-conspirators preyed upon his beneficiaries addictions by providing them with narcotics so that the beneficiaries would remain in Esformes Network facilities, allowing the cycle of fraud [to] continue,” prosecutors said in a court filing.  “Among the thousands of people cycled through the fraudulent network were, for example, drug addicts who were allegedly prescribed opioids – including OxyContin and Fentanyl – and other narcotics in order to entice them to stay in facilities where they didn’t belong,” she said at a news conference.

Prosecutors said Esformes faces a potential prison term of life imprisonment under federal sentencing guidelines.

In addition to Esformes, 49-year-old Odette Barcha, who had been director of outreach programs at Larkin Community Hospital, and physician’s assistant Arnaldo Carmouze, 56, also were charged in the case and arrested.  Esformes and his co-conspirators are alleged to have further enriched themselves by receiving kickbacks in order to steer Medicare beneficiaries to other health-care providers — including community mental health centers and home health-care providers — who also performed medically unnecessary treatments that were billed to Medicare and Medicaid, the office said.

According to court documents, Esformes paid $15.4 million in 2006 to resolve civil federal health care fraud claims for similar charges.  But authorities said Esformes was able to continue with alleged crimes after that date through a sophisticated money laundering scheme.

See additional article at Fox News.