Articles Posted in Nursing Home Care

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A Philadelphia jury awarded a total of $6 million to the widow of a 76 year old man who died from bedsores he developed at Jeanes Hospital in 2006. Both Jeanes Hospital and Hillcrest Convalescent Home were sued and the jury found both had been negligent in the care of Mr. Blango, who was first admitted to Jeanes (which is owned by Temple University Health System) in May, 2006 when he was 74 years old and was suffering from confusion and weakness. Mr. Blango’s widow claimed that Jeanes Hospital failed to diagnose a urinary-tract infection that worsened because it was not treated and that ultimately led to the development of severe bedsores. Mr. Blango was transferred to Hillcrest after spending a week at Jeanes and was in Hillcrest for 2 weeks, but during the stay his condition got even worse, requiring him to be transferred back to Jeanes. During his second admission, Jeanes sent Mr. Blango home after only 3 days notwithstanding the fact that his bedsores had been left to fester and he had lost 28 pounds.

Mr. Blango survived at home for 2 years, during which time he was cared for by his wife, but he died in 2008 from the bedsores that first developed in 2006 at Jeanes and worsened at Hillcrest. The jury initially awarded $1 million for Mr. Blango’s pain and suffering, Mrs. Blango’s loss of her husband and medical bills incurred by the Blangos. The jury then considered the issue of punitive damages, which can only be awarded when a jury believes that a defendant acted outrageously and recklessly. In this case, the jury awarded $1.5 million in punitive damages against Jeanes and $3.5 million against Hillcrest for the manner in which they treated Mr. Blango.

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Donna Cameron, of Ashton Pennsylvania, who was the former Director of Nursing at St. James Retirement & Rehabiliation in Chester, Pennsylvania, pled no contest to charges that she criminally neglected patients, falsified records and perjured herself. The nurse neglected a 72 year old patient’s head wound and allowed it to become infected with maggots. Although doctor’s recommended the patient see a dermatologist for the lesion on her head and for nurses to apply an antibiotic ointment, the nursing director failed to do so. Even worse, the nurse then falsified medical records and lied to invesigating authorities to hide the improper care. Two other employees of the nursing home are also facing criminal charges.

Public news accounts of the incident report that the patient was cared for at a hospital prior to being transferred to the nursing and rehabilitation facility. At the nursing home in Delaware county, the physician’s orders concerning wound care were never followed. The wound worsened and became infested with maggots. Eventually, the patient was transferred back to the hospital’s emergency room, where a hospital staff member noticed blood coming from the bandaged wound. When the bandage was removed, it was immediately noted that there were over 50 live maggots in the wound. Upon arrival at the hospital, the patient was also described as very unkempt with soiled clothing.

Prosecutors claimed that the Cameron, who was the patient’s sole nurse, failed to care for the wound over a four month period of time. Then, when being investigated, the nurse falsified the medical records to have them show that proper new dressings had been previously applied to the wound. Under the plea, the nurse will not contest the charges record tampering, criminal neglect and perjury.

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The Holland-Glen Nursing Home in Hatboro, Pennsylvania faces serious charges filed by the United States Attorney’s Office for providing substandard and worthless care, which defrauded the Pennsylvania Medicaid and federal Medicare progarms. The civil complaint filed by the federal government alleges that the facility was operating without a proper skilled-nursing license and provided care that was below the standard of care in several respects, including failing to respond to respiratory alarms, improper bedsore treatment and improper medication administration. Several specific incidents were also mentioned, including the death of a 10 month old infant with a heart condition after receiving improper doses of two different medications. Also, the nursing home staff failed to respond on many occassions to pulse oximeter alarms (which measure the amount of oxygen in the blood) and one patient was found unresponsive because the monitor was attached improperly.

Patrick Meehan, the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia who filed the lawsuit, is permitting the nursing home to continue its operations during the litigation of the case. The Holland-Glen Nursing Home provides specialized care to approximately 30 children and young adults, who are ventilator-dependant or respiratory impaired. Apparently, the nursing home had a license to operate only as a community group home for the mentally retarded, but when this program ended in 2003 and the facility began providing skilled nursing care, no skilled-nursing license was ever obtained. Meehan also stated that this nursing home has failed to comply with federal and state regulations in the past.

Improper and substandard Nursing Home care is a frequent source of concern that can result in a medical malpractice case. Unfortunately, we too often hear in the news about elderly patients who are neglected, abused and even beaten by nursing home staff. As at the Holland-Glen Nursing Home, bedsores are common and they can progress into serious infections such as osteomyelitis (bone infection) and can even result in death. Nursing Homes have an obligation to provide a competent and proper level of care for all their patients, including nutrition and medical monitoring. As this case demonstrates, the same issues and concerns are present in the chronic care of infants and children as are present in caring for the elderly.