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Nursing Home Investigated for Series of Violations

Nursing home negligence lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that the Champaign County Nursing home in southern Illinois was recently subject to several investigations by the state’s Department of Public Health. Recent surveys have found an array of violations, particularly in kitchen and nutrition management.

Nursing homes that accept Medicare and Medicaid, which most of them do, are required to be inspected by the state every 18 months or so. In January 2012, inspectors found that one seriously ill resident lost over ten pounds in one month. His doctor recommended he receive health shakes between meals to keep his strength and health up, however, his chart at Champaign did not indicate such requirements. Not only did he not receive his required shakes between meals, but was given only half the lunch portions every day.

During that same 2012 inspection, more than 20 patients were served half-portions of lunch, though they were all supposed to be receiving full portions. In December 2012, the dietary manager at Champaign told inspectors that she and others have found multiple pieces of plastic in the meat served in all four of the facility’s dining rooms, and in one instance it was clear the plastic was from a glove. Other staff members report finding plastic in residents’ mouths.

The wife of one of the residents reported finding cardboard in her husband’s food, noting it was not the first time a foreign object was found in his food. During a 2013 inspection the walk-in refrigerator was condemned for use because it was substantially over 41 degrees, which is the maximum temperature food can be kept at safely. Similarly, the dishwasher was not reaching 180 degrees, which is the temperature required to kill bacteria and food-borne organisms that cause infections.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the state’s Department of Health cited a Cold Spring nursing home for neglect after a resident died from getting his head stuck between a mattress and bed rail. We previously reported on the dangers of bed rails in nursing homes, and this death only furthers that argument. Bed rails were introduced into nursing homes to increase mobility and independence of senior citizens, however, the reality of such products has turned out to be extremely harmful and often fatal.

Take, for example, the resident of Assumption Home in Minnesota, who suffered from dementia and had a history of falls. The facility installed bed rails in his room despite this risk, never actually assessing whether such action was necessary. In January 2013, the resident’s neck became stuck between the rail and mattress, where he remained lodged for 40 minutes, ultimately dying of asphyxiation. The Minnesota Health Commissioner stated that he hoped the resident’s death would motivate nursing homes to re-evaluate their use of bed rails.

Critical injuries may also occur when patients attempt to climb over the rails or if the products are ever used to restrain an ‘unruly’ patient. The FDA has reported of more than 1000 patients becoming strangled, trapped, or entangled in bed rails, though it is not clear how many nursing home deaths have been linked to these products.

A settlement was recently reached in Philadelphia concerning an 81-year-old woman who was a victim of nursing home abuse. The woman was a resident at a nursing home in Chester County, PA, and had a known risk of falling. Although she fell twice at the facility, no changes were made to her care plan, and the facility failed to provide relevant care to prevent her from injury. Unfortunately, she fell again, fracturing her spine and requiring kyphoplasty surgery. She ultimately sued the Pennsylvania nursing home, and received $121,000 in a settlement.

Senior negligence lawyers at Pintas & Mullins urge anyone who feels they or a loved one was negligently cared for or blatantly abused at a nursing home to contact our firm as soon as possible. You have important legal avenues we can help guide you through so you can obtain compensation for any medical bills and emotional distressed caused to you.