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.
Choosing a nursing home for yourself or your loved one can be challenging and emotionally taxing. With so many stories about nursing home abuse and neglect, it can take a lot of research to find a location you feel comfortable with. However, even the pricey nursing homes may not have the nicest accommodations or provide the best health care. A few weeks ago, the federal government put a new nursing home rating system into effect. The goal is to provide a more accurate rating system for nursing homes that reflects the quality of accommodation and care the residents receive. Approximately 80% of the nursing homes originally received 4 or 5 star ratings based on the old criteria. However, the ratings were mostly inaccurate due to the lack of specificity and different criteria of the previous rating system.
The New York Times recently exposed several startling scenarios in which nursing homes have attempted to gain guardianship rights over residents in an effort to collect payment. According to research done by Hunter College, the practice of nursing homes filing for guardianship of residents is becoming increasingly common. In the last ten years, out of 700 guardianship cases brought to court in Manhattan alone, 12% were filed by nursing homes.
A recent National Public Radio (NPR) investigation revealed that nearly 20 percent of senior nursing home residents receive some form of antipsychotic medications.
Similar reports, drawing from the NPR investigation, found significantly higher rates of antipsychotic drug usage concentrated in the Western New York area. In the Rochester region, data revealed that antipsychotic drug usage rates reached up to 30 percent.*
A recent exposé by the New York Times revealed that as nursing homes revamp their facilities to include luxury living quarters, the disparity between the lavish amenities of short term accommodations, and the quality of care can be drastic. Although nursing homes are attempting to lure in patients whose short stays will be funded by Medicare dollars, in lieu of Medicaid, many patients are being discharged from the facilities before they have been rehabilitated. Or worse yet- they leave with more medical issues than they had upon admittance.
After four years of planning, federal regulators of the U.S. Labor Department proposed rules that would strengthen the protection of those investing their retirement money. The new rules would require that brokers owe a stronger fiduciary duty to their clients. Currently, the rules are vague and use ambiguous language, allowing brokers to skirt around the guidelines and in many instances, put their own investment interests first.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has proposed new rules affecting VA pension eligibility that would place restrictions on asset transfers with a penalty period that could last up to a decade; limit home lot sizes to two acres; and cap home health care expenses. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and veterans advocates believe the enactment of this proposed rule could cause severe harm to veterans in need of long term care, and their families. The new rules are more restrictive than Medicaid by disallowing the use of trusts and annuities as long term care planning tools.
End of life care refers to the treatment of patients in the final hours or days of their lives, as well as the health care of all those with a terminal illness or a terminal condition that has become advanced, progressive and incurable.
The Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Health have recently commenced an investigation into the July 20th death of a 71-year-old female resident of a Medford nursing home.