Lawsuits Against CBRFs Based on Negligence

Community-based residential facilities (CBRFs) provide a residence for many individuals who do not need nursing care above an intermediate level, and who need only three hours per week of nursing care. By residing in a CBRF, individuals can maintain a fair amount of independence and remain in their communities, while still receiving the type and amount of nursing care that they need. Although not as heavily regulated as nursing homes, those individuals or companies that operate CBRFs still have the duty to maintain the safety of their residents under Wisconsin state law.

Due to the nature of these facilities, it is fair to say that residents are not closely monitored. However, what happens when the CBRF operators become aware that a resident’s physical or mental state deteriorates to the point that a limited amount of nursing home is no longer sufficient? At what point does the CBRF become liable if it becomes aware that a resident poses a threat or danger to other residents? These are situations in which a CBRF is potentially liable for negligent behavior that leads to injuries being suffered by a resident.

If a CBRF is found liable for a resident’s injuries, the measure of damages is quite different from that in a regular personal injury action. Damages are largely limited to past and future medical bills, past and future pain and suffering, and punitive damages, in appropriate cases. There is no measure of lost wages or loss of future income, since long-term care residents are obviously unable to work, and their life expectancies are limited. Furthermore, in a wrongful death case, funeral and burial expenses may be recoverable as damages.

CBRFs offer an alternative to individuals who do not need to be confined to a nursing home, in that they do not need an extensive amount of regular or skilled nursing care. At Boller & Vaughan, we are here to stand up for the rights of all CBRF residents who have suffered substantial injuries while under the care of those are supposed to prevent such injuries from occurring. Contact us today at (608) 268-0268, set up an appointment with one of our Wisconsin CBRF abuse attorneys, and discover how we can help.

Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Wrongful Death Under Wisconsin Law?

All too often, nursing home residents fall victim to wrongful death, both at the hands of nursing home staff members and other residents. When a wrongful death occurs at a nursing home, the individual’s family members inevitably want answers to the questions surrounding their loved one’s death. What’s more, the surviving family is likely to want to hold the nursing home responsible for the tragedy that occurred on their watch.

If negligence led to the death of your loved one, certain surviving family members of the deceased may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the nursing home, depending on the situation. For instance, if your loved one died due to abuse by a staff member whom the nursing home failed to properly screen for a criminal history or closely monitor, even after complaints were made, the nursing home might be civilly liable for damages resulting from the resident’s death. Likewise, if a nursing home is well aware that one of its residents is violent, and fails to take the steps necessary to prevent that resident from harming a fellow resident, then the nursing home also may be liable for wrongful death.

Up until recently, there was a major barrier to holding nursing homes responsible for their negligence in allowing the death of a resident to occur. Arbitration clauses are quite common in nursing home contracts, and they often serve to limit public scrutiny of nursing home negligence by relegating the parties to pursue any relief only in binding arbitration. Recently, federal law banned the use of arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts; however, pursuant to a pending lawsuit, a federal judge now has put the new law on hold until the lawsuit is resolved. As a result, it remains to be seen whether arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts will continue to tie the hands of families whose loved ones have died in a wrongful manner while in nursing homes.

The Wisconsin elder abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan have handled countless claims on behalf of nursing home residents who have suffered serious injuries and even death due to the negligent behavior of nursing home staff and facilities. When a serious injury or death of a loved one occurs, we know just how devastating it can be, and how you powerless you feel as a result. Allow your family to begin the healing process from this traumatic event by holding the wrongdoers responsible for your loved one’s injuries. Contact our office today and set up a free consultation with one of our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys.

Where to Report Elder Abuse

Every county in the state of Wisconsin has an elder abuse agency that will investigate complaints or reports of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. If you want to report the suspected or confirmed abuse of an adult who is aged 60 or older, you should contact your County Help Line. Each county also must have an adult protective services (APS) agency that is responsible for providing protective services and placement to all adults at risk, regardless of their age. Each APS agency is legally required to report all findings to the Department of Health Services.

When you call to report elder abuse, the person who answers the phone is likely to ask you detailed information about the person whom you suspect is being abused and what abuse you believe is occurring. However, you don’t have to know every detail in order to make a report of elder abuse; additional information is helpful, but not necessary. You also can give your name and address, but you are not required to do so.

Once you contact your county elder abuse agency, a caseworker will review your report and determine what response is necessary, based on the facts and circumstances that you reported. Responders will investigate the situation, if needed, and take immediate steps to improve the current situation and prevent any further abuse. Some of the potential services that your elder abuse agency can offer include the following:

  • Health care
  • Aging services, such as for transportation, nutrition, and benefits counseling
  • Domestic violence/sexual assault services, including legal advocacy, counseling, and safety planning
  • Criminal justice intervention
  • Legal assistance

The Wisconsin nursing home lawyers of Boller & Vaughan know how difficult it can be to entrust your loved one to the care of others, particularly when he or she is so dependent on caregivers. When abusive incidents occur in these facilities or other types of long-term care situations, you tend to lose trust in institutional caregivers, no matter how much your loved one needs this kind of care. Our attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights and those of your loved ones in all types of circumstances. We handle nursing home abuse cases on a daily basis, and we know how to get the relief to which you may be entitled. Don’t hesitate to fight back against an abusive nursing home or assisted living facility that has caused harm to your loved one. Call us today at 608-268-0268 and see how we can help.

Links Between Care of Dementia Patients and Depression of Caregivers

The Journal of Women’s Health recently published the results of a study focusing on the risk of depression in the caregivers of dementia patients. More specifically, the study, on which international researchers collaborated, compared the risk of depression when the caregiver is the patient’s daughter as opposed to the patient’s daughter-in-law. Researchers found that there was little research on daughters-in-law experiencing stress in caring for dementia patients, which is of some importance, since many daughters-in-law in Asian society traditionally take on caregiving responsibilities for their in-laws.

The study involved a group of 95 daughters and daughters-in-law who were caring for dementia patients. Researchers looked at not only the symptoms of depression in the caregivers, but in the behavior of the patients, including cognitive abilities, daily activities, and global dementia ratings. In both groups of caregivers, the study found that a caregiver’s depression increased as the severity and frequency of the patient’s behavior increased. However, one group of caregivers generally suffered more from depression than the other based on the relationship of the caregiver to the patient. As one might assume, the depression among daughter caregivers was marginally greater than among daughter-in-law caregivers of dementia patients. Researchers linked the increased depression in daughters to their emotions resulting from their family relationship with their parents. Based on the study, the researchers concluded that the family relationship between patients and caregivers should be considered in managing caregivers’ stress and depression.

All too often, caregivers of dementia patients and other chronically ill patients suffer from depression, overwork, and extreme stress. These conditions can very easily lead to incidences of abuse and neglect. At Boller & Vaughan, we focus on protecting the rights of those who have suffered neglectful or abusive actions at the hands of caregivers, whether they are relatives, home health aides, or nursing home employees. We have the skills and knowledge to delve into the facts of your case, consider all available options, and advocate on your behalf by bringing any legal claims that you may have. Call your Wisconsin elder neglect attorneys at (608) 268-0268 and schedule your free consultation today.

New Study Finds Elder Financial Abuse on the Rise

A recent Money article reveals the results of a new survey of caregivers about the prevalence of financial abuse among senior citizens. The survey found that about 37% of seniors experienced financial abuse. The last survey, which Allianz Life conducted in 2014, found only a 20% incidence of financial abuse. In two years, then, the rate of financial abuse among seniors almost doubled. Even worse, the survey found that, on average, seniors who experienced financial abuse lost $36,000 in assets, although other surveys found even higher amounts of losses. Aside from the obvious financial losses, seniors in this situation also suffer from shame, stress, and sadness, which can directly impact their physical health.

One reason for the rapid increase in financial abuse of seniors is the steadily growing population of retirees, many of whom are the height of their wealth. The prevalence of mental and physical health issues, including the estimated 5.4 million in the U.S. suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. One of the most common characteristics of Alzheimer’s is dementia, which can directly affect one’s ability to make important decisions, including financial decisions. Even absent dementia, though, the aging brain, in general, may increasingly have a difficult time making financial decisions and handling his or her financial affairs. Officially, this phenomenon is known as age-associated financial vulnerability. Due to a lack of reporting, often due to embarrassment, experts believe that the rates of senior financial abuse are even higher.

When an elderly individual falls prey to financial abuse, the results can be devastating. If you or a loved one is in this situation, you should definitely contact an experienced Wisconsin elder abuse attorney at Boller & Vaughan today. We know how to protect your rights and potentially get compensation for any injuries that occurred. Caregivers for the elderly have a duty to protect and care for their charges. When an individual fails to meet that duty, it is up to you to hold them responsible for their actions. Call Boller & Vaughan today at 608-268-0268 and see what assistance we can offer you and your family.

How Common is Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes and Other Care Facilities?

As our population ages, elder abuse is a problem that continues to grow across the United States. One study estimates that nursing homes care for 1.5 million elderly and frail Americans, for whom physical and verbal aggression may occur on a routine basis. In fact, by the year 2050, researchers estimate that 20 percent of the total population will be senior citizens. The abusive behaviors that nursing home residents consistently experience include inappropriate, disruptive or hostile actions by other residents, unwelcome entry into residents’ rooms, physical incidents, verbal incidents, and sexual incidents. Therefore, elder abuse in nursing home and other long-term care facilities is far more common than one might initially think.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, a recent study showed that anywhere from 7.6 to 10 percent of elder Americans suffered abuse in the prior year. While reports of elder abuse are increasing, it is estimated that only one of every 14 cases of elder abuse is actually reported to authorities. All too often, these cases of abuse, many of which occur in nursing homes, go completed undetected and unpunished. In one study of 2,000 nursing home residents, 44% of nursing home residents reported that they had suffered abuse, and 95% reported that they had either been neglected or witnessed another resident being neglected.

Moreover, almost one in three American nursing homes were cited for violating federal standards related to potential or actual harm to a resident. Nearly one out of every 10 homes had violations that actually caused residents harm, serious injury, or in danger of death. Additionally, more than 50% of nursing home staff members surveyed admitted to having mistreated a nursing home resident in the past year, with two-thirds of those incidents involving neglect.

The lawyers of Boller & Vaughan have unparalleled knowledge of Wisconsin elder abuse laws and know how to help guide you through any elder abuse claim. Regardless of the type of abuse or neglect involved, we are here to help you and your family get through this devastating ordeal. In many cases, residents are reluctant to seek a remedy or even report abuse at the hands of a nursing home. Rely on your Madison elderly abuse attorneys to help you explore all available avenues of relief and get the justice that your situation demands.

 

 

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid to Incorporate New Nursing Home Quality Measures

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) has added six new quality measures to its Nursing Home Compare website, which allows consumers to get information on 24 different quality measures for over 15,000 Medicaid and Medicare-certified nursing care providers from across the United States. Three of these new measures are based on data regarding Medicare claims from hospitals, rather than simply data that nursing homes report to CMS.

The three new quality measures based on Medicare claims data consider a facility’s rate of re-hospitalization, emergency room usage, and community discharge. More specifically, the six new measures include:

  • The percentage of short-stay residents who were successfully discharged to the community
  • The percentage of short-stay residents who have had an outpatient emergency department visit
  • The percentage of short-stay residents who were re-hospitalized following nursing home admission
  • The percentage of short-stay residents who made improvements in function
  • The percentage of long-stay residents whose ability to move independently worsened
  • The percentage of long-stay residents who received an anti-anxiety or hypnotic medication

These new quality measures focus more closely on short stays in nursing facilities, or those that last 100 days or less. They also measure the key outcomes that are important to those looking for short-stay nursing home. The existing quality measures already address outcomes related to longer stays, such as those last 100 days or more.

The new nursing home quality measures are designed to help ensure the safe and appropriate care of all residents of nursing homes and other types of care facilities. By hopefully eliminating some of the factors that directly contribute to the neglect and injuries to nursing home patients, it is our sincere hope that such incidents can be avoided altogether. At Boller & Vaughan, we are here to stand up for the rights of all those residents and their families who have suffered substantial injuries while under the care of those are supposed to prevent such injuries from occurring. Contact us today at (608) 268-0268, set up an appointment with one of our Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys, and discover how we can help.

 

 

 

 

 

Improper Usage of Restraints By Nursing Home Staff

One of the fundamental tenets of the Nursing Home Patients’ Bill of Rights is the right of a long-term care patient to live free from restraints, whether they are physical, chemical, or mechanical. Patients must have the ability to control their own body functions, to the greatest degree possible, unhampered by restraints. While restraints are necessary in some extreme cases, or on a temporary basis during an emergency situation, the overuse of restraints can lead to significant injuries to a nursing home resident, both physically and emotionally.

Unfortunately, many short-staffed nursing or long-term care facilities use restraints for convenience rather than necessity. Physical restraints are objects that physically restrain a resident, such as belts, straps, and side rails on a bed. If a resident is left restrained for a significant period of time, he or she may suffer physical injuries due to an inability to freely move about, such as bruises on their wrists and feet. A prolonged period of physical restraint also can cause psychological or emotional issues in a patient due to neglect, lack of human contact, and inability to move in any meaningful fashion.

Although chemical restraints act much differently than physical restraints, they often have the same effect. By using drugs to restrict a patient’s freedom, nursing home staff may believe that they can more easily care for a large number of residents. However, continual usage of medications to effectively sedate nursing home residents is not in accordance with a resident’s rights to move freely without fear of dizziness, falling, or excessive sleepiness. These drugs are only appropriate when prescribed by a doctor to a specific patient in order to treat a certain medical condition or symptom, not for the convenience of nursing home staff.

All too often, nursing home staff members use restraints on residents improperly, and to the extent that the residents suffer neglect and even injury. While restraints are necessary in certain situations, they should not be used as a means to control unattended patients. At Boller & Vaughan, we focus on protecting the rights of those who have suffered neglectful or abusive actions at the hands of nursing home facilities. We have the skills and knowledge to delve into the facts your case, consider all available options, and advocate on your behalf by bringing any legal claims that you may have against the nursing home in question, or its staff members. Call your Wisconsin nursing home neglect attorneys at (608) 268-0268 and schedule your free consultation today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nursing Home Falls: When Patients Are Left Unattended

Falls among elderly nursing home residents can result in critical injuries, some of which even may be fatal. Hip fractures, brain injuries, and fractures to other bones all can have grave results for the elderly residents who fall. Despite these serious consequences, however, a large number of nursing home residents suffer from falls on a daily basis, many of which are easily preventable or avoidable.

A nursing home or other care facility has a duty to minimize risks to its patients, including the risks of falling and suffering falling-related injuries. All too often, issues such as neglect, chronic understaffing, and lack of supervision can result in an individual being injured in a fall. When this type of injury occurs, the resident’s family members and loved ones must determine whether the fall was truly an unavoidable accident, or whether the nursing home facility and its staff could have prevented the fall and resulting injuries.

If there is evidence of negligent behavior on the part of staff members or the nursing facility itself with respect to the care of your loved one, and he or she suffers injuries as a result, you may have a cause of action for the damages resulting from the fall. Depending on the outcome of the resident’s fall and injuries, this cause of action may take the form of either a personal injury action or a wrongful death suit.

When a nursing home resident suffers injuries or even death due to falling while left unattended by staff, you may have legal grounds for a lawsuit against the staff and facility who failed to do their jobs. If you or a loved one is in this situation, you should definitely contact an experienced Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorney at Boller & Vaughn today. We know how to protect your rights and potentially get compensation for any injuries that occurred. Nursing homes have a duty to protect their residents and ensure that they receive the appropriate level of supervision. When nursing home staff fails to meet that duty, it is up to you to hold negligent Wisconsin nursing homes responsible for their actions. Call Boller & Vaughan today and see what assistance we can offer you and your family.

 

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