Choking Accidents in Wisconsin Nursing Homes

Having difficulty swallowing is a relatively common ailment in older adults, especially those who reside in nursing homes. As a result, nursing home staff always must monitor residents during meals in order to prevent choking. Plus, some residents must have specialized diets in order to reduce the risk of choking. When nursing home staff members fail to take these safeguards, serious injury or death can result.

Swallowing requires the use of over 50 muscles and nerves, so many different conditions can lead to difficulties in swallowing. For instance, various neurological disorders can lead to swallowing problems, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. Cancer and resulting radiation treatments can affect swallowing, as can Alzheimer’s disease, and in some cases, simply the process of aging. When a patient chokes, food, medication, or liquids enter the windpipe instead of travelling normally through the esophagus. If a choking incident is not resolved immediately, a patient can suffer brain damage or even death due to the severity and length of the restrictions on the patient’s air supply.

A nursing home has a duty to its patients to protect them from choking incidents, by monitoring the patient’s meals and medication intake. If nursing home staff fails to do so, then the nursing home may be responsible for any injuries or death that occurs as a result. It is the duty of nursing home staff to keep patients safe; when they fail to take necessary precautions by properly monitoring patients, there may be a claim for compensation against the individual staff members involved and the nursing home itself.

When an accident causes serious injuries to you or a loved one, the impact can be devastating. Although some accidents are just that – accidents – others are caused by the negligence of another, such as an inattentive nursing home worker or care attendant. Obtaining a settlement from the responsible parties can be more complex and take more time than you realize. If you are in this situation, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Call Boller & Vaughan today and learn how our Wisconsin personal injury attorneys can advocate on your behalf.

Skilled Nursing Home Population Hits New Low

The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) recently released a report showing that skilled nursing facility (SNF) occupancy dropped to 81.7%, or its lowest point in five years, during the second quarter of 2017. Although seasonal factors often cause a drop in occupancy, due to the prevalence of illnesses like flu, rates have continued to fall during the third and fourth quarters of the year. These statistics indicate a downward trend that may very well continue throughout the remainder of 2017, as well.

NIC representatives attribute the drop in SNF occupancy to a variety of different factors, including the increased role of managed care, the practice of sending patients directly home from the hospital, and the fact that more complex surgeries are often performed in an outpatient setting. These factors have combined to cause occupancy challenges, especially with respect to the number of Medicare patient days. Ironically, however, Medicaid patient days reached peak levels at almost 66% occupancy, for the highest occupancy rate in five years.

NIC has provided its NIC Skilled Nursing Data Report since 2011 for operators and investors involved with NSFs. The report offers aggregate data from SNF operators who have multiple properties in the U.S. NIC intends to continue to gather data from an increased number of SNF operators in order to provide localized data in addition to national data.

Although the skilled nursing home population has decreased over time, there are still thousands of nursing home and assisted living facility residents, all of whom have the right to safe and proper care. The nursing home abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan pride themselves on advocating on behalf of clients who suffer injuries at the hands of their caregivers, no matter whether those injuries from result from abuse or neglect in a nursing home or in any type of long-term care facility. We can seek compensation for you through the legal system, while you and your family can concentrate on healing, recovering from any trauma that you might have experienced, and moving on with your life. Don’t hesitate to contact our office today and learn how we can help.

Preventing and Treating Animal Bites

There are about 4.7 million dog bites that occur every year in the United States, about half of which occur to children between the ages of five and nine. Dog bites can result in serious injuries, including infections and disfigurement. As a result, it is essential that you not only educate yourself about preventing animal bites, but how to treat those bites if they occur.

You and your children should stay away from unfamiliar dogs, and not attempt to pet or play with a dog, particularly if the dog is eating or feeding puppies. If you must approach a dog, do so slowly, and allow the dog to approach you first. If a dog does act aggressive toward you by barking, growling, or lunging at you, then you should not run away or scream. Rather, you should stay calm, move slowly, and avoid eye contact with the dog.

In the event that a dog does bite you or a family member, you can care for a minor bite at home. However, if the dog is unfamiliar to you, the bite is deep, bleeding will not stop, or the area of the bite appears to be red, swollen, warm, and infected, then you should seek formal medical treatment for the bite.

In order to treat a dog bite, press a clean towel over the wound in order to stop the bleeding. Keep the area elevated, and wash it with soap and water. Dry the area, apply an antibiotic ointment, and place a sterile bandage on the wound. Replace the bandage and reapply antibiotic ointment to the wound each day.

At Boller & Vaughan, we know that suffering serious injuries from an animal bite or any other type of accident can be a stressful, emotional, physically painful, and financially draining event. Allow us to take some of the burden off of you and your family by handling your personal injury claim, which will allow us to work toward getting you the compensation that you need and deserve. As skilled Madison personal injury lawyers, we are here to help you through this ordeal from a legal perspective, while you concentrate on healing from your injuries and recovering from the financial impact of the accident.

Neck Injuries and Car Accidents

Neck injuries are one of the most common forms of injuries that result from car accidents. While these injuries may be minor, they also can result in serious medical conditions that may never fully disappear. There are a number of different types of neck injuries, including the following:

  • Whiplash occurs when there is a sudden back-and-forth motion that affects the cervical ligament located at the base of the neck.
  • Soft tissue damages involve the muscle, tissue, and ligaments, but not any damage to the bones.
  • Muscle spasms in the neck can occur around the facet joints in each pair of neck vertebrae.
  • Vocal cord damage can occur when there is an impact to the larynx.
  • Brain injuries can result when there are injuries to neck arteries that restrict blood flow to the brain.
  • Paresthesia, or a tingling or burning sensation on the skin, can occur when a slipped disc landing on a nerve root.

While these injuries initially may see minor, they can develop into more severe and longer-lasting medical conditions that may be disabling, perhaps on even a permanent basis. For instance, a whiplash injury can result in whiplash associated disorder, which is a chronic condition that can involve mental or emotional issues and other chronic and painful physical symptoms, such as backaches or headaches. Other long-term effects of neck injuries include the following:

  • Jaw pain
  • Inability to turn one’s neck without pain
  • Muscle tightness and spasms
  • Chronic headaches
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Nausea and inner ear problems
  • Difficulty swallowing and breathing
  • Swelling inside the throat
  • Infections

The Wisconsin car accident lawyers of Boller & Vaughan are experienced in ensuring that those who negligently cause motor vehicle accidents that result in injuries to others are held responsible for their actions. We know how to investigate your case, assess your situation and determine whether you or your loved one has any personal injury claim against either the driver or another negligent party that contributed to the accident. Contact Boller & Vaughan today and learn how we can help you through this difficult situation.

New Study Indicates Seniors Are Getting Healthier

HealthDay recently published the results of a new study that found the overall health of seniors to be improving. The largest gains in healthy lifestyles, however, occur in well-educated, rich, and white seniors. Researchers were somewhat surprised by the results, since, seniors uniformly have access to Medicare, and thus should get the medical care that they need, regardless of race, income, or education. Nonetheless, these disparities have only continued to widen over time, which seems to debunk the commonly held notion that people with access to health care are healthier in general.

Federal government data concerning over 55,000 adults over the age of 65 shows a 14 percent increase in those who reported being in good health between 2000 and 2014. The study focused on seniors who reported being in good health at least twice in one calendar year. Seniors with graduate degrees saw the biggest increases in health lifestyles, while there were virtually no gains among seniors with only high school diplomas. Likewise, 52% of the seniors who reported being in good health had higher incomes, whereas only 31% of seniors with higher incomes reported being in poor health. White seniors saw the greatest gains in good health, but the rate of good health remained flat for black and Hispanic seniors, although there were gains among people of other racial or ethnic groups. Curiously, seniors who never had been married also saw reclining rates of good health over this time period.

This study shows that while access to health care and doctors clearly is essential, many other factors in a person’s life also seem to affect the level of his or health. While seniors are getting healthier as a general rule, there are still situations in which some seniors need long-term care. At Boller & Vaughan, we are here to stand up for the rights of senior citizens and their families who have suffered substantial injuries, whether physical, emotional, or financial, while under the care of those who are supposed to prevent such injuries from occurring. Contact us today at (608) 268-0268, set up an appointment with one of our Wisconsin elder abuse attorneys, and discover how we can help.

Technology, Social Media and Your Personal Injury Claim

When it comes to personal injury cases—especially those related to car accidents—the role of technology can be a mixed bag.

On one hand, technology can provide a better understanding of what really happened during an accident. On the other hand, technology can sometimes hinder a person’s ability to collect compensation for medical costs and other damages. Continue reading

Do I Really Need a Lawyer for a Personal Injury Claim?

When you or a loved one is seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash or another type of accident, you are likely to be experiencing a fair amount of stress, pain, and confusion. In this situation, it’s difficult to know where to turn first. However, if another individual was negligent in causing the accident that led to your injuries, you may have a valid personal injury claim against that individual under Wisconsin law. A personal injury claim may allow you to get compensation for your losses, including expenses such as medical bills and property damage. While money may not be the first thing you think of following an accident, once the bills start coming in, you will realize that if someone’s negligence caused your injuries, you should get the compensation that you deserve.

Following your accident, a claims adjuster from the responsible individual’s insurance company is likely to contact you fairly quickly. No matter how nice and caring he or she acts, however, keep in mind that the job of a claims adjustor is to settle your claim as quickly as possible, for as little as possible. The claims adjustor will try to get you a check and your signature on a document that waives all further claims. If you sign this document, you will not be able to get any more compensation through a personal injury lawsuit; you will be limited to whatever money the insurance company already has given you.

The bottom line is that the other party’s insurance company will not be looking out for you and your best interests. In the aftermath of an accident, you may not be thinking quite clearly or able to make important financial decisions. By getting the advice of an experienced Wisconsin personal injury attorney, you can get the advice that you need in this type of situation. We will help you navigate the complex process of filing a formal personal injury claim, negotiating compensation, and filing a lawsuit, if necessary.

Boller & Vaughan are experienced Madison personal injury lawyers who know Wisconsin law and know how to effectively represent your interests in any personal injury claim stemming from a traffic accident, whether it involves a motorcycle, semi-truck, or a passenger vehicle, or another type of incident altogether. Contact our office today and learn how our attorneys can help ensure that you receive the compensation in your case to which you are entitled.

Do I Have a Right to a Jury Trial in a Personal Injury Case?

In Wisconsin, individuals with civil personal injury claims are entitled to a jury trial, rather than a trial only in front of a judge. Since a personal injury claims comes from tort law, or a common law claim, then the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects your right to a jury trial in a personal injury case. A jury is made up a certain number of people from your community whom the attorneys involved believe can make unbiased decisions. The people on the jury listen to the evidence on each side of the case and then make a decision based on the judge’s instructions about the law that relates to your personal injury claim.

Your personal injury attorney will present your side of the case to the judge and the jury. He or she will use evidence to show that the other person or persons acted negligently, or with careless disregard for your safety, in causing the accident that led to your injuries. The other attorney, who typically is an attorney for an insurance company, will defend the negligent person or persons who caused the accident that led to your injuries. That attorney will attempt to convince the jury that his or her client did not act negligently in causing the accident at issue.

Once each side has presented all of the evidence, the judge will give specific instructions to the jury about the personal injury claim. The jury then will meet in a separate room to discuss the case and make a decision in accordance with the judge’s instructions. This is generally referred to as jury deliberations. Once the jury has made its decision, everyone will return to the courtroom. The decision of the jury will be read and the trial concluded.

We are the Wisconsin vehicle accident lawyers to whom you always can turn if you or your loved one suffers serious injuries in a crash, whether it involves drunk driving, distracted driving, or another issue. No matter how complex or difficult your situation may be, the Madison injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan are here to advocate on behalf of you and your family and hold negligent drivers responsible for any injuries that have occurred.

Study: Hospital Patients Receive No Info about Nursing Homes

A new study by RTI International shows that many hospitals fail to provide their patient with quality information about skilled nursing facilities, which causes many patients to select a facility simply based on location. The study included information from about 100 nursing home residents and almost 140 staff members of hospitals and nursing facilities. The goal of the study was to determine how patients selected a nursing home following a hospital stay, or what factors influenced their decisions. The researchers’ findings were published in a recent issue of Health Affairs.

In most cases, patients simply received a list of local skilled nursing facilities, with no information about the quality of the facilities. Some staff members thought that giving information about quality and conditions of a particular nursing facility violated patient choice regulations. However, the researchers concluded that providing patients with information about the quality of nursing homes, or at least where to find such information, did not breach these regulations. Only four of the 100 nursing home residents reported receiving such information as hospital patients.

In order to remedy the situation, the researchers recommended making changes to hospital discharge procedures and interpreting patient choice regulations in a more flexible manner. Hospitals can and should direct patients to high-quality nursing homes upon discharge, or at least make patients aware of resources to get that information.

The Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan know how devastating it can be when you entrust your loved one to the care of others, only to have that trust completely betrayed when your loved one is subjected to abuse or neglect. Our attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights and those of your loved ones in all types of circumstances. We handle nursing home abuse and neglect 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 a neglectful or abusive nursing home or assisted living facility that has caused harm to your loved one. Contact us today and see how we can help.

Preparing for Winter Weather Driving Hazards

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT), there has been an average of 18,600 motor vehicle crashes on Wisconsin roadways during the winter months. These crashes have caused an average of 48 deaths and 4,700 injuries in Wisconsin each year. As a result, drivers should be aware of the potential hazards of driving in winter and take the appropriate precautions to avoid accidents cause or exacerbated by the weather.

First, you must ensure that you always keep a winter emergency kit in your care. At a minimum, your emergency kit should include the following:

  • Warm blankets or sleeping bags
  • Extra coats, hats, gloves, and scarves
  • A flashlight and extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Water and high-calorie, nonperishable food
  • Sand or cat litter to use as traction
  • Snow shovel, windshield scraper, and booster cables
  • Cell phone charger
  • Fluorescent flag or cloth

If your car becomes disabled or stuck in the snow, you should stay put, as you are likely to wander in the wrong direction during a storm. Tie the fluorescent flag on the antenna and keep your dome light on so that emergency personnel will be more likely to see you. Use emergency flashers only for ten minutes per hour in order to conserve the life of your car battery.

While driving during winter weather, you always should follow other vehicles at a distance that is greater than usual. You also may need to drive slower than the speed limits, depending on the severity of the weather and the road conditions. Be gentle when using your brake and gas pedal; suddenly stopping or accelerating can cause your vehicle to slip out of control. You and all occupants of your vehicle should wear seat belts at all times. Leave extra space between you and snowplows, and observe the “move-over” law, which requires you to shift lanes or slow down when you encounter a law enforcement vehicle, tow truck, highway maintenance vehicle, or other utility vehicle that is stopped on the side of the road.

Whether your accident occurs due to another driver who fails to heed winter weather or another type of negligent situation, you may have a claim for damages under Wisconsin law if you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result. Don’t delay in contacting the Madison personal injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan, and set up your free consultation today.

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