A recent article concerning medical malpractice in Wisconsin nursing homes and the fines that were imposed on some of the nursing homes due to medical malpractice incidents sheds some light on the kinds of medical malpractice that may occur in nursing homes. In the past, it has been difficult to obtain specific information regarding nursing homes that were fined for providing less than the minimum level of care required under the circumstances. However, a recent federal law will make it easier to obtain some of the information: starting in July, reports concerning immediate jeopardy citations (the most serious of four categories of citations) and other violations will be accessible online, due to the 2010 federal health care reform law.
Wisconsin has 399 nursing homes. There were 231 immediate jeopardy citations issued against Wisconsin nursing homes from 2009 to 2011. In one particular Wisconsin county that has 21 nursing homes, five of the nursing homes had immediate jeopardy citations issued to them between 2009 and 2011, and those nursing homes were fined a total of $137,781 (there were a total of 9 immediate jeopardy citations issued against nursing homes in that county for the three-year period).
The Five Wisconsin Nursing Homes That Were Issued Immediate Jeopardy Citations
In one example of the circumstances underying an immediate jeopardy citation issued to one of the nursing homes in the county, a 95-year-old resident of the nursing home was given 10 times the amount of morphine she should have received and she died the following day. In responding to the immediate jeopardy citation that resulted from the incident and the $4,550 federal fine and the $6,300 state fine that were imposed, the nursing home stated that the resident “was end-stage and in the dying process, so there was not harm to her receiving more pain medications…She was going to die. This is not what killed her.”
In another example of an immediate jeopardy citation issued to another nursing home that resulted in a $2,730 federal fine and a $1,869 state fine, a 75-year-old-resident broke her pelvis due to a fall after she had fallen 26 times between June, 2009 and March, 2010.
In a third nursing home, a resident was found face down in an outside courtyard of the nursing home on a rainy day, three hours after falling from her wheelchair, when the temperature outside was in the 30s. The same nursing home had another immediate jeopardy citation issued to it for a 68-year-old resident who had a dangerously high blood thinner ratio, dangerously low potassium level, and rapid weight gain (another resident who suffered rapid weight gain that affected his heart condition resulted in a third immediate jeopardy citation issued to the nursing home).
A fourth nursing home in the same Wisconsin county had three immediate jeopardy citations resulting in fines: a 68-year-old resident became severely dehydrated because she was not provided enough fluids and she lost 10 pounds in two weeks. Another resident also suffered from dehydration and a third resident who was on chemotherapy had a critically low white blood count that should have resulted in her doctor being promptly consulted and the resident being placed in isolation to avoid infection.
In the fifth nursing home, an immediate jeopardy citation was issued for failing to properly respond to the numerous falls of two of its residents (one resident had fallen 10 times and the other resident had fallen 15 times).
We often hear about avoidable medical malpractice incidents occurring in nursing homes where the residents suffered catastrophic injuries, including death. Nursing homes must be held accountable for their medical negligence and their failures to provide at least the minimum level of care to their residents that is required under the law. One effective way of prodding nursing homes to provide the level of care expected of them and to improve nursing home care is to hold the nursing homes responsible for injuries and losses when they breach the required standard of care.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries or losses as a result of medical malpractice in a nursing home, the advice from a medical malpractice attorney is important in order to protect your legal rights.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and bring a lawsuit on your behalf, if appropriate.
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