3 Deaths at the Suffolk Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing

Yesterday, NBC4 New York’s Chris Glorioso and the station’s I-Team reported on their investigation into three deaths at the Suffolk Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing on Long Island. According to family members, Thomas Bischoff and Raymond Curiale, residents of the nursing home and Korean War veterans, both died as a result of neglect.

According to medical records from Brookhaven Memorial Medical Center, Mr. Bischoff died of a cardiac arrest resulting from a septic infection. The sepsis was partly caused by bedsores, which can form if nursing home staff neglect to provide basic care. You can find more information on bedsores, also referred to as pressure ulcers, here.

After being admitted to the nursing home in March 2013, part of Raymond Curiale’s care required staff members to monitor him every 15 minutes. On July 15,2013, Mr. Curiale accidentally hanged himself. Not one staff member checked on Mr. Curiale for 57 minutes, the time frame during which he died.

Glorioso’s article also mentions another Suffolk Center patient who overdosed three times on narcotic painkillers and died last May. In this matter as well, the facility’s staff failed to properly watch over the resident.

In response, the Suffolk Center released a statement stating that the nursing home provides “quality care” for its residents.

This history of neglect is unacceptable for any facility that cares for our loved ones. If you have any questions, concerns, or information about possible abuse or neglect at the Suffolk Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, you can contact Benjamin Decker, Esq. at (518) 621-4210 or benjamin@dpsattorneys.com.

NBC4 Story on Suffolk Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing

Tonight at 11 PM, NBC4 New York will be broadcasting an investigative story concerning the Suffolk Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, a 120 bed facility in Patchogue, NY. When considering nursing home options for loved ones, information is the key to making the right decision. If you have a loved one currently in a nursing home, or are considering nursing home options for a loved one, you should watch this report. Those of you in the New York City area can tune in to NBC4 New York to see the story. If you are outside of NBC4 New York’s broadcast area, I will post a link to the story here on the blog as soon as it is available.

Medford Multicare Center Investigation Leads to Arrests

Nine people have been arrested after an investigation by the state attorney general’s office into Medford Multicare Center, a nursing home located on Long Island, according to an NBC New York article. Kethlie Joseph, an employee of Medford, was charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of 72-year-old Aurelia Rios, a former patient of the nursing home. Ms. Rios died after becoming disconnected from her ventilator. Aides neglected to respond to an alarm that sounded every 15 seconds for over two hours.

Six other employees, including the administrator, David Fielding, have been charged with participating in the cover up of the death. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a 58-page civil complaint stating there had been a “history of neglect of Medford’s most vulnerable residents.” Two additional employees have been charged with falsifying documents regarding injuries to other patients at Medford.

Falsifying records and covering up incidents are recurring problems in nursing homes. Many times these incidents go undiscovered. In a previous blog post, I mentioned the state investigation into Northwoods Rehabilitation Facility in upstate New York. These investigations are a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to protect the rights of loved ones in nursing homes. If you believe a loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect, contact a lawyer immediately.

Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.2B in U.S. Health Care Fraud Settlement

I was pleased to learn that Johnson & Johnson is being held accountable under the false claims act for promoting three prescriptions drugs (Risperdol, Invega and Natrecord) in way that put the elderly, children and mentally ill at risk. (See article http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/2-Billion-Settlement-Largest-Single-Drug-Civil-4953700.php) I have previously blogged about the misuse and abuse of psychotropic medications in nursing homes and I find the allegations against Johnson & Johnson outrageous.

Johnson & Johnson was accused of paying kickbacks to doctors and pharmacies to recommend and prescribe psychotropic drugs to the elderly in a way that was unsafe.  As federal studies have demonstrated, psychotropic drugs are being overused because nursing homes don’t have sufficient staff to care for certain behaviors that patients exhibit because of dementia.

Criminal charges were brought over Ripserdal sales representatives promoting it to doctors and other prescribers for symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, depression, hostility and confusion despite the drug having only been approved for schizophrenia at the time.  Sales representatives were allegedly offered incentives for the off-label use of these drugs.  It is unclear from the article as to what extent these fines will impact Johnson & Johnson. For example, are these fines just the cost of doing business, or do they exceed the profit earned from wrongfully promoting these drugs?  It is important to note that part of this lawsuit involved criminal charges, but because the corporation entity was the defendant, no individual from the corporation will be held accountable.

The importance of knowing what drugs are being prescribed to a loved one and for what reason cannot be overstated.  It is important to know dosage and also the side effects.

Trapped in the Hospital Bed

A client recently forwarded a New York Times article to me that discusses the hidden dangers of older adults spending too much time in bed when hospitalized.  I asked Jeanette Sandor, a well respected former Director of Nursing at a nursing home, to comment on this article as it relates to the elderly in hospitals and long term care facilities.  Below is a link to the New York Times article along with Ms. Sandor’s comments.

http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/30/trapped-in-the-hospital-bed-2/?src=rechp

Comments by Jeanette Sandor:

I really appreciate Dr. Brown’s research. It is so consistent with what I saw as a nurse who worked in nursing homes for 20 years. There are so many elderly who end up in nursing homes due to a diagnosis that rendered them dependent such as Alzheimer’s Disease or a stroke. However, there is also a large group of elderly that end up in nursing homes with the primary diagnosis “Deconditioning”. These individuals have been hospitalized for various reasons and while receiving treatment they experienced an overall decline from immobility. Their functioning had declined. They had become incontinent. They got a bit confused. Now they need a nursing home, hopefully on a short-term basis. Although some regain previous functioning through the restorative therapies they receive in a nursing home, there is a significant group who never regain their mobility and many who suffer other consequences of the decreased functioning such as pressure ulcers, falls and depression. Once these events occurred, the likelihood of returning to previous functioning is reduced even further. Personally, I was recently hospitalized and saw firsthand that while hooked up to intravenous and donning a hospital gown, how minimally I moved each day.  Where does one go in the hospital besides walking in the hallway? And as the article suggests, who is going to walk the elderly down that hallway? If the person is blessed to have a visitor who will take on this role they will have a better outcome. Educating loved ones is a critical piece to improving outcomes. And as a society and as healthcare providers, let us not forget those individuals who have no loved ones to look out for them, to take a walk down the hall. Growing up we heard “An Apple a day keeps the doctor away!”.  Let’s coin the phrase for hospitalized elderly: “A walk down the hall keeps the nursing home away!” 

Jeanette

Andrus on Hudson nursing home fined in patient’s 2011 death

 

As stated in a previous blog of mine dated March 5, 1013, there is no legal requirement for licensed nursing staff to perform CPR; however, it is the Standard of Care in New York State among licensed nursing staff.

A nursing home in Hastings, New York was recently fined $12,000.00 to settle charges that staff members failed to intervene when a resident suffered a heart attack in 2011. While the resident did not have a do-not-resuscitate order, the staff believed the patient did have one, leading to inaction on the part of the staff at Andrus.

See the link to the full article below:

http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201305132316/NEWS/305130091&nclick_check=1

The article further states that the Long Term Care Community Coalition released data regarding sanctions against 18 New York nursing homes in the first quarter of 2013; eleven (11) of which were fines and seven (7) corrective actions. One of these nursing homes included Northern Riverview Health Care Center in Haverstraw, NY. Northern Riverview agreed to pay $16,000 in fines to resolve a series of charges including allegations of resident abuse by staff.

NY Post Reports Abuse and Neglect of a Nursing Home Resident

The New York Post has reported that Dr Enrico D’Angelo and Nurse Diana Aduna who were employees of the Goldcrest Care Center, a Bronx nursing home, were arrested in connection with the “grisly” death of an elderly woman in 2010.  As per the article, D’Angelo and Aduna were charged with failing to render care to the nursing home resident.    The daughter of the resident was quoted as stating, “I don’t want this to happen to anyone.  You bring your parents to be taken care of by professionals.  I never thought there was such evil in the world, so close to home.”  See the full article in the link below.

While Federal and New York State Laws and Regulations set out specific, detailed standards for nursing home staff to follow in providing care to residents, unfortunately all too often, we see articles like this in the media.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/bronx/doc_nurse_from_troubled_bx_nursing_HFXxAuEz6GD2sfYWzad9wO

Woman in Assisted Living Facility dies after being denied CPR

There is no legal requirement for licensed nursing staff to perform CPR; however, it is the Standard of Care in New York State among licensed nursing staff.

Authorities are launching a criminal investigation into the death of an 87-year-old woman who was denied CPR at a California independent living home by a woman who identified herself to a 911 dispatcher as a nurse – but the facility now says she isn’t one.

During the call last Tuesday, an unidentified woman called from her cell phone, and asked for paramedics to be sent to help Lorraine Bayless, who collapsed in the dining room of the independent living building in Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield.  Later, a woman who identified herself as the nurse got on the phone and told dispatcher Tracey Halvorson she was not permitted to do CPR on the woman.

She said one of the home’s policies prevented her from doing CPR, according to an audio recording of the call.  ”In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community, our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives,” Executive Director Toomer said. “That is the protocol we followed.”

The harrowing 7-minute, 16-second call also raised concerns that policies at senior living facilities could prevent staff from intervening in medical emergencies. It prompted calls for legislation Monday to prevent a repeat of what happened at Glenwood Gardens.

“This is a wakeup call,” said Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, chair of the California Assembly Aging and Long-term Care Committee. “I’m sorry it took a tragedy like this to bring it to our attention.”

In New York State we have the Assisted Living Reform Act (“ALRA”) with corresponding regulations. In reviewing both New York State regulations and ALRA, I was unable to find a requirement that CPR be performed.  There was a proposal submitted by the Department of Health for a licensed registered nurse to be on staff 24 hours a day at assisted/independent living facilities; however that proposal was successfully challenged and there is still no requirement in place.  Had such a regulation been effective, then that staff member would have been in a position to perform CPR.

Below is a link to the article:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/03/05/spokesman-says-woman-who-refused-to-give-cpr-to-dying-87-year-old-wasnt-nurse/