South Carolina Nursing Home Blog

South Carolina Nursing Home Blog

Nursing Home Information & Litigation

Owner Steals to Buy Crack

Posted in Staffing, Trial themes

WRAL reported that Victoria Diane White, owner of the North Carolina nursing home Miracle Restoration, was arrested after stealing $250 from a resident’s bank account to buy gasoline, which she traded for crack cocaine and other drugs. White stole the resident’s bank card and used it to make this purchase, then gave the card to a friend who used it as well. White has also been accused of stealing patient’s medicine to exchange for crack cocaine. She then falsified records to cover her tracks.

 

Failure to Administer CPR

Posted in Advocacy, Staffing, Trial themes

KSTP reported that Ralph Dostal died in a nursing home at the age of 78, but his family says it should never have happened. Now, they’re suing the nursing home, and a nurse, claiming both didn’t do enough to save their loved one.  The family of Ralph Dostal filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming their loved one had a standing order to resuscitate if his heart stopped, and that that order wasn’t followed.

Dostal fell ill in September 2012. After a month in the hospital, battling unexplained stomach issues, he was transferred to Benedictine Health Center of Minneapolis, a nursing home, to rehab.  “I thought he would be at Benedictine for a short time, and be released, and go back home,” Bies said.

Bies visited Dostal every day, and says he was very much himself.  “The last thing he said to me was, ‘Will you come and see me tomorrow?’ And I said, ‘Well, of course I will.’ And then I got a call in the morning, and they told me he had died,” Bies said.

According to the lawsuit Bies filed, Dostal had started vomiting. A physician left orders that if it continued, he should be sent to the emergency room and the on-call physician should be called. But the lawsuit states that when he vomited again, the nurse sent an aide. Dostal stopped breathing. And according to the lawsuit, when the nurse, Francis Abagi, found no pulse, he did not administer CPR.  “If they had done their job properly, he probably could be here today,” Bies said.

Abagi was eventually fined $750 by the Board of Nursing, which found Abagi “… admitted he should have initiated CPR in this situation, but failed to do so.” Abagi was fired from Benedictine, but his nursing license is still active. His attorney declined to comment.

“He’s at the nursing home for the sole purpose of being monitored and cared for, and they don’t do it,” said Mark Kosieradzki, the attorney representing Bies, and Dostal’s estate.  Kosieradzki said the case is the third he’s handled this year where a nurse is accused of failing to administer CPR.

 

Wheelchair Safety

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Fall Prevention

Family members are seeking answers in the death of an 85-year-old Belleville nursing home patient who was found at the bottom of stairs still strapped in her wheelchair.  The family of Juanita Simmons wants to know why Midwest Respiratory and Rehabilitation Center did not call police and how Simmons got through the doorway to the stairs.  Officials investigating the death of Simmons were first notified of the fatality when they got a call from a Montgomery County funeral home.  The director of the funeral home said he was contacted by Simmons’ daughter, who told him, “Mom took a fall.”  Deputy Coroner Dean Darnall said he was told that Simmons’ body was found by staff at the nursing home still strapped into a wheelchair and at the bottom of stairs.

Simmons’ granddaughter, Tonya Adams of Villa Hills, said during a telephone interview that staff at the nursing home was negligent in their duties and that the family was “definitely” planning to take legal action.  “She had no business at the bottom of a stairway,” Adams said, calling whatever circumstances leading to her grandmother’s body being left unattended “a serious lapse.”  Adams said one of the main concerns her family has in the death of Juanita Simmons is why staff at the Midwest Rehabilitation and Respiratory Center on North 17th Street did not contact police when the frail woman’s body was found, and instead called a funeral home located more than an hour away. Procedure in an accidental death at a nursing home usually requires that police and a coroner be immediately notified.

In a recent review of nursing homes across the country, Midwest Respiratory and Rehabilitation received a one-star rating on a five-star scale, and the facility had 36 “health deficiciences” listed.

 

Vicious Assault

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Staffing, Trial themes

A 28-year-old employee at Whitehall Healthcare Center nursing home has been charged following an investigation into the suspected abuse of a 62-year-old patient.  William Thomas Hill faces a hearing after being arraigned on two counts of third-degree vulnerable adult abuse.  Another worker at Whitehall Healthcare Center in Novi called police March 11 after Thomas David Johns reportedly was beaten. Whitehall staff witnessed Hill sit on the victim and punch him. Johns was hospitalized.  Hill is a certified nursing assistant. He was ordered jailed on an $11,000 bond.

His wife Beth tells us he’d been staying at the facility as a patient for just a week.  She tell us witnesses at the Whitehall Healthcare Center called 911 after a CNS worker started to attack her husband.  According to court documents obtained by 7 Investigator Jim Kiertzner, the patient Thomas Johns had “significant deep purple bruises on his chest, chin, back and torso.”   The court document also states that Hill “confessed to punching, pushing, sitting on Johns five times during his shift of March 11, 2015 when he was agitated with Johns.”

“That was the only place that could take him at the time and he was easily accepted,” says Beth Johns.  She adds, “He’s harmless, he couldn’t defend himself and I want people to know this goes on and needs to be stopped.”  “I want this man arrested, for the fact that he hurt my husband so bad,” says Johns.

Two years ago at Whitehall, the company was fined $14,700 for incidents including the death of a patient who was not given CPR.  The report on medicare.gov also says 67 other patients could be at risk for serious harm, injury and/or death.

 

Anti-psychotics Used in Place of Proper Staffing

Posted in Advocacy, Medications

I read an interesting but tragic story about Gerry Gilgan,a retired New York City firefighter,  who was transferred to a nursing home after brain surgery in February 2013, the 78-year-old went had mild dementia, but was in good spirits and lucid when he arrived.  Within hours of his arrival, records show Gerry Gilgan began receiving the powerful antipsychotic medications Haldol and Seroquel.  Gerry Gilgan’s prescription for Haldol was “as needed,” as frequently as every six hours.

The next day, daughter Patrice Gilgan’s cellphone video shows a different man. Gerry Gilgan’s widow, Marie, was shocked by the sudden change.  “We took him into this home thinking this would be the best place for him,” she said. “[After] a day or two, he’s a different person. It was like he was a vegetable. There was nothing to him. Staring in space, drugged out.”

Nursing homes claim the use of antipsychotics is somehow justified, saying they calm agitated, anxious or combative residents. According to the facility, Gerry Gilgan was “combative,” though closed-circuit cameras in the nursing home show no evidence of belligerent behavior.

Patrice Gilgan said her father was never the same after the overdose. Five days after he arrived at Irvine Cottages, Gerry Gilgan fell and was taken to the hospital. He didn’t open his eyes for two and a half weeks, his daughter said. A state investigation later concluded Gerry Gilgan was “overmedicated.”

Antipsychotics are often given to patients for the benefit of the officials at the facility, in order to control them, said Carole Herman, founder of the Foundation Aiding the Elderly in Sacramento.  “The patient can’t walk anymore. The patient can’t talk anymore, and so there’s less care because basically the patient is incapacitated,” she said. “They’re zonked out all the time, so you don’t have to be bothered with them.”

Antipsychotic drugs are approved for patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, not for dementia. In fact, the FDA has given its strongest warning – a so-called black box warning – telling physicians not to prescribe antipsychotics to people with dementia because they can cause heart failure, infection and death.  Despite the FDA warning, a Government Accountability Office report released this month found one-third of long-term nursing home residents with dementia have received antipsychotics.

Antipsychotics have carried the FDA’s black box warning since 2005. Even so, in 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general issued a report saying dangerous and “off label” use of the drugs was widespread in nursing homes.

 “These powerful and, at times, dangerous drugs are too often prescribed for uses that are not approved by the FDA and do not qualify as medically accepted for Medicare coverage,”Daniel Levinson testified in a Senate committee hearing. “The FDA has imposed a black box warning emphasizing an increased risk of death when used by elderly patients with dementia. Yet 88 percent of the time, antipsychotics were prescribed for elderly patients with dementia.”

Herman of the Foundation Aiding the Elderly said doctors usually prescribe antipsychotics without ever seeing the patient.  “The person at the other end of the phone, which is usually the director of nursing or the charge nurse, will call and say, ‘Mrs. Smith is acting out. Prescribe something.’ And they’ll prescribe an antipsychotic because it knocks them out,” Herman said.

In 2013, Johnson and Johnson agreed to pay fines of more than $2.2 billion for marketing the off-label use of the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal and two other drugs. The Justice Department said the company urged doctors and prescribers treating elderly dementia patients to use the antipsychotic for anxiety, agitation, depression, hostility and confusion.

Eli Lilly paid the federal government $1.4 billion in 2009 to settle charges it illegally marketed the antipsychotic Zyprexa. Among the marketing tactics was a “5 at 5” campaign that urged nursing homes to administer five milligrams of Zyprexa at 5 p.m. to induce sleep.

In 2010, AstraZeneca paid a $520 million fine for off-label marketing antipsychotic Seroquel for conditions including Alzheimer’s and dementia, giving doctors illegal kickbacks to serve as authors for articles actually written by the drug company.

Medicare Prescription Drug Plan spent a total of $7.6 billion on antipsychotic drugs in 2011, the most recent figures available, according to CMS.

In nursing homes, Hamilton said lowering antipsychotic use takes more than hiring additional staff.  “There’s a body of research that has shown a correlation between lower staffing levels and higher use of antipsychotics,” he said. “But it’s not only the level of the staff, the training of the staff and the leadership.”

Sometimes, it’s a matter of diverting attention. In the memory care unit, each resident has a box with memorabilia – photographs and other small objects that carry a connection to the past. There’s also a crib with two lifelike baby dolls. On one occasion, Cornish said a patient was hallucinating that she could hear a baby crying. A staffer gave the woman a doll.

See article here.

CNA Accused of Attacking Resident

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Staffing

John Tamba, CNA at Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, was charged with three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person or an incompetent or physically disabled person in the second degree, and willful violation of health laws. Tamba attacked a female resident who was disabled. He is no longer employed at the nursing home.  See article here.

 

Embezzlement

Posted in Staffing

WSFA reported that Mary Nowell worked at Evergreen Nursing Home and Rehabilitation in Alabama as a bookkeeper from 2008 – 2013. Crowne Management, owner of Evergreen, audited the home and found several financial discrepancies. Nowell had reportedly embezzled $4,000 and falsified records to cover up the theft. Nowell’s fourteen month sentence was suspended and she was placed on fourteen months’ probation. She was also ordered to pay restitution and a fine – totaling just under $5,000.

 

RICO Indictments

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Advocacy, Tort Reform

WSWV reported that the Brian Center nursing home closed three years ago “after being called one of the worst nursing homes in Virginia.” Residents were subjected to poor care including no assistance with toileting and bathing, inadequate nutrition, and a lack of turning and repositioning – which resulted in pressure sores. The home was also horrible to its employees and vendors, taking money from employee paychecks for benefits that weren’t provided and defrauded vendors. Four more people involved in the facility have been indicted in connection with racketeering and fraud charges. This makes a total of six people indicted because of the inadequate healthcare given at the facility and the multiple occasions of fraud.

 

Hidden Camera Records Abuse

Posted in Abuse and Neglect, Staffing

WFLA reported that two CNAs were caught on camera tormenting a 76 year old Alzheimer’s patient after hidden camera footage of the Palm Garden nursing home was released to the State Attorney’s Office. The other CNAs in the room may well face charges even though they did not directly participate in the battery. None of the CNAs in the video are still employed at Palm Garden.