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Judge Decides Not to Dismiss Case Against Nursing Home

Eladia Ciprian, an 80-year-old patient at St. Barnabas Rehabilitation and Continuing Care Center, will not have her case dismissed for the center’s failure to correctly diagnose and treat a hematoma in her right bicep. A Bronx County Supreme Court judge decided not to dismiss the case after the center claimed she made no proof of the nursing home’s neglect or deprivation of her rights.

Rather than bringing a medical malpractice suit against the center, Ms. Ciprian filed a claim under Public Health Law § 2801-d. The law allows a private right of action based on the willful deprivation of certain rights of patients by nursing homes and other residential facilities. The rights of the statute protect a patient’s right to appropriate medical care, to be informed of their medical condition, and to have private communications with physicians or lawyers. Under the statute, the burden of proof is placed on the defendant to show that they did not deprive the patient of any of the previously stated rights. The shift of the burden provides a greater advantage to a patient under the statute than a medical malpractice suit, which places the burden on the plaintiff.

Ms. Ciprian states that, after having an amputation in her right leg, phlebotomists drew blood from her right arm for 12 straight days to see how the amputation was progressing. The staff of the center stated that Ms. Ciprian’s records did not show that multiple blood draws were ordered during the time. The complaint alleges that the neglect of the staff in providing adequate records led to the development of the hematoma. Furthermore, the staff’s records following the blood draws fail to show any documentation of the hematoma’s emergence. While remaining in the center’s care, Ms. Ciprian was admitted to the emergency room to evacuate the 800-milliliter hematoma to avoid amputation of her arm.

In reviewing the motion to dismiss, the court disagreed with the center’s argument and stated that there are triable issues as to whether Ms. Ciprian was properly treated. The court noted that the trial will go forward to answer the question of whether the center deprived Ms. Ciprian of any private right or benefit. If Ms. Ciprian is successful in proving her claim at trial, the statute allows for compensatory damages of no less than 25 percent of the daily rate the patient was paying to be in the facility, in addition to legal fees.

Taking proper care of the disabled and elderly in our society who depend on us is of the utmost importance. If you have questions about the care of a disabled or elderly loved one, contact an experienced New York elder law attorney who can help. For more information, contact Hobson-Williams, P.C. at (718) 210-4744 for the quality representation that you deserve.

Employees of Medford Multicare Found Guilty on Charges in Connection with Rehab Patient’s Death

Recently, five former health care workers at a nursing home facility were convicted of several crimes in connection with the death of a 72 year old rehabilitation patient.  A respiratory therapist and three nurses were sentenced to various jail terms and probation for the attempted cover–up of the circumstances surrounding the patient’s death.  In addition, another respiratory therapist entrusted with the patient’s care was convicted of criminally negligent homicide.

Aurelia Rios had gone to the Medford Multicare Center for Living, Inc. for rehabilitation purposes.  While there, she required the use of a ventilator to aid in respiration.  However, the respiratory therapist had not read the doctor’s instructions and neglected to connect the ventilator when Rios had gone to sleep.  Evidence shown at jury trial demonstrated that Rios’s respiratory and cardiac alarms had gone off when she stopped breathing, but that the therapist and the nurses ignored the activated alarms and the messages sent to their pagers.  Staff waited two hours before responding to Rios who had been dead for a considerable amount of time.  Additionally, surveillance footage showed two occasions when the respiratory therapist walked by Rios’s room, ignoring the alarms signifying respiratory distress.

The employees proceeded to both falsify nursing notes and conceal computer records in connection to the incident.  Further, none of the staff reported to the New York State Department of Health as required by law.

Among the charges the nursing staff were found guilty of include:

  • Falsifying Business Records
  • Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person
  • Willful Violation of Health Laws

Three former aides pled guilty to charges arising from the same occurrence.  The Medford facility corporation’s owner will also be sentenced to seven days in jail on two counts of Falsifying Business Records and Willful Violation of Health Laws.

In addition to the criminal charges, the New York State Attorney General filed a civil lawsuit, charging the corporation with corporate looting and fraud related to a history of criminal activity conducted by the corporation’s employees.

If you or a loved one has experienced nursing home neglect or abuse, contact an attorney immediately who can protect and advise you of your legal rights.  The Law Offices of Tanya Hobson-Williams is dedicated to fighting for the rights of the elderly and vulnerable and has successfully handled numerous cases concerning nursing home abuse and neglect.  For more information, call the Law Offices of Tanya Hobson-Williams toll free at (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744.

Nursing Home Employee Indicted on Charges Related to Resident Trust Account Theft

The New York State Attorney General recently announced that a former employee of a nursing home has been arrested and indicted on 24 counts related to stealing over $6,000 from a nursing home trust fund.  The indictment alleges Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree; two counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree; and seven counts of Petit Larceny for incidents occurring between April 2013 and February 2014.

As the receptionist, the employee was entrusted with the responsibility of submitting requests for residents who wished to use funds from the trust account.  Standard operating procedure at nursing homes is to comingle all resident funds into one account at a bank.  A small amount of money is then kept at the nursing home for distribution to residents when requested.  Instead of distributing the funds to the residents, the indictment alleges that the employee forged the checks, cashed them, and withheld the money for herself.

Nursing home residents are some of the most vulnerable members of society.  Attorney General Schneidermann remarked, “Nursing home residents across New York State entrust financial control to those who are trained and paid to care for them, and those staff members must honor that trust.”

If your loved one is in a nursing home and has been abused financially or physically, contact an experienced Elder Law attorney who can advise you and your loved one regarding the best course of action to take.  Call the Law Offices of Tanya Hobson-Williams toll free at (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744.

 

Federal Government Introduces New Efforts to Combat Elder Abuse

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsIn an effort to combat elder abuse in the United States, the Obama Administration recently released a program outline titled “The Elder Justice Roadmap”.

The Elder Justice Roadmap will be used to develop strategic plans and provide guidance in tackling the highest priority challenges to elder abuse prevention and prosecution.

Aiming identify the most critical priorities in elder abuse issues, The Elder Justice Roadmap derives its content from the opinions of hundreds of experts and innovators from across the country.

Using this collective data, proponents of the initiative hope to develop strategies to raise public awareness about elder abuse, conduct research about the costs of elder abuse, develop better treatment options for victims, and inspire a more active involvement from the private sector. Continue reading “Federal Government Introduces New Efforts to Combat Elder Abuse”

Kansas Toughens Penalties for Elder Fraud

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsFraud and financial abuse of the elderly is more widespread than you may realize. It may even be on the rise due to longer life expectancy and an aging population. Sadly, elder fraud and abuse appears in many forms, affecting millions of senior citizens and their families throughout the United States. These crimes go largely unseen because many seniors do not recognize when it happens to them or may be too ashamed to speak up. The State of Kansas and its lawmakers are standing up against elder law fraud and abuse by drafting measures that create harsher punishments for future offenders.

A new law signed by Governor Brownback of Kansas, is a “first step in the right direction,” to better protect Kansas senior citizens against fraud and financial abuse, said Attorney General Derek Schmidt. The law applies when a victim of financial abuse is over the age of 70-years-old and it “substantially enhances” penalties for stealing from an elderly person. If convicted of large-scale financial abuse, an offender could face more than 40 years in prison. Additionally, the new law makes it a criminal offense to misuse a trust or power of attorney to misappropriate an elder person’s life savings. Continue reading “Kansas Toughens Penalties for Elder Fraud”

Recognizing Signs of Elder Abuse in a Loved One

Tanya Hobson-Williams

Many senior citizens who are too frail and vulnerable have become victims of elder abuse at the expense of strangers, trusted caregivers and even friends and family members. When one thinks of elder abuse, they think of physical abuse, but it goes beyond that.

Elder abuse takes many forms: sexual abuse (non-consensual sex), willful neglect (failing to provide food, shelter, healthcare or protection for a vulnerable patient), exploitation (stealing, misusing or concealing the seniors’ funds, property or assets for someone else’s gain), abandonment (leaving seniors by themselves without proper care), emotional abuse (verbal threats, humiliation and intimidation) and self-neglect (the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks that may result in a threat of his/her own health or safety).

Signs of elder abuse include bruises, pressure marks and abrasions on the skin; broken bones; unexplained withdrawal from normal activities; depression; sudden changes in their financial situation; bedsores; poor hygiene; unusual weight loss; use of threatening behavior by a spouse; strained or tense situations and frequent arguments between the patient and caregiver.

Elder abuse came into the national spotlight in 2011 when legendary actor Mickey Rooney was granted court protection from his stepson and stepdaughter who he claims abused him, verbally, emotionally and financially. Mr. Rooney also accused his stepchildren of denying him food and medicine.

According to the American Psychological Association, an estimated 2.1 million senior citizens suffer some form of elder abuse. The National Elder Abuse Center report that 21% of elder abuse cases are self-abuse and financial abuse. If you suspect that an elderly loved one may be a victim of elder abuse, it is recommended that you call the authorities and contact us at Tanya Hobson-Williams, P.C..