Southern Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Nursing Home Neglect

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Legislators in Indiana and Kentucky have enacted laws mandating medical review panels in cases where individuals allege they have been harmed by a healthcare provider’s negligence, commonly known as medical malpractice.  Under legal challenge, Indiana found the legislation constitutional, whereas Kentucky did not.

Long ago, prior to enacting this legislation, Indiana’s and Kentucky’s founders provided as part of their Constitutions that their courts should be “open” and justice administered freely and “without delay.”

Article I, Section 12 of the Indiana Constitution provides:

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The Indiana Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion in Biedron v. Anonymous Physician 1 addressing the applicable statute of limitations in medical malpractice lawsuits in Indiana.

Biedron involved three related medical malpractice claims, which were consolidated for the purposes of the appeal. Proposed complaints for medical malpractice were filed by the plaintiffs with the Indiana Department of Insurance more than two (2) years after the alleged malpractice occurred in each of the cases. The plaintiffs in each of the cases argued that the 2-year occurrence-based statute of limitations, as set forth in the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, should be tolled under the doctrine of fraudulent concealment. With differing trial court orders on the defendant healthcare providers’ motions for summary judgment on the statute of limitations issue, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, finding in favor of the Indiana healthcare providers.

Under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, a medical malpractice claim, whether in contract or tort, may not be brought against a healthcare provider based upon professional services or healthcare that was provided, or that should have been provided, unless the claim is filed within two (2) yeas after the date of the alleged act, omission, or neglect, except that a minor less than six (6) years of age has until the minor’s eighth birthday to file. Ind. Code § 34-18-7-1.

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It’s a fear that many people have – that they or their parents will end up in a nursing home unable to care for themselves and becoming overmedicated. The fact is that many nursing home residents are suffering from Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia which can make them aggressive or anxious. That makes them difficult to care for. And for nursing home workers who are overworked in a facility that is understaffed, the solution, unfortunately, is to medicate such individuals. This often leads to overmedication. An estimated 179,000 people living in nursing homes receive antipsychotic drugs each week although they have no mental illness for which such drugs are intended.

Signs of Overmedication

It is difficult enough to make the decision to send your loved one to a nursing facility. But, sometimes that is the only option and is required to ensure the safety of your loved one. A nursing home should be a place where residents receive adequate care while being kept safe. However, some residents go downhill fast once they’ve entered a nursing home. This is sometimes due to the fact that they are being overmedicated. If you have a loved one who resides in a nursing home, then you should look out for the following signs:

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The Nursing Home Investigation and Selection Process
. Entrusting a loved one, such as a mother, father, sister or brother, to the care of a nursing home is one of the most difficult decisions many of us will ever make. In spite of a long, thorough investigation into suitable nursing and rest homes and assisted living centers, it is often difficult to get a true feel for the environment when you leave a loved one in the care of strangers. Often times it is not possible to witness the actual care being given so it is important to notice the overall state of care such as cleanliness, the quality and temperature of food items, how medications are delivered, changes in personality of the loved one, and missing personal items. When you arrive at the facility are the staff actually engaged in helping residents or are they out on the front porch in groups smoking, texting and checking social media on their cell phones? Has the rest home, nursing or assisted living facility changed ownership or administration often? Have medical directors changed or are they rarely or never present?What have State nursing home survey inspection findings been for the home?

Keeping Tabs on Conditions and Care

While it is likely impossible to meet the ideal conditions we would like to see for a loved one, some nursing, rest and assisted living homes fall well short of meeting even the most minimum standard of care. Sometimes failure to ensure proper staffing levels means the routine care of a loved one suffers. Pay careful attention to your loved one’s mood changes. Do they seem anxious or concerned when they see particular staff? Are you seeing a lot of different faces and are those faces less friendly than when the stay began? Do you hear yelling or exasperation from staff as you walk by other rooms, administration or the nursing station? Does your loved one exhibit signs of dehydration such as dry eyes, flaky skin or chapped lips? When you arrive, do they have a full or empty drinking cup in their room and within their reach and are they eating or refusing to eat reminiscing about home-cooked meals? Are they losing weight or exhibiting skin changes? Do you notice flies or uncleaned restroom facilities? If they had bedsores or pressure ulcers upon admission, have these gotten better or worse? If they were continent when they started are they now incontinent? Or, if they were incontinent when they started at the facility and were on a scheduled toileting program, has the facility now suggested they are continent to avoid the burden of scheduled toileting? Has your loved one fallen from a wheelchair, bed or been found wandering outside the facility?

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For most people, deciding to place a family member or loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision. This could lead to a long period of searching for a facility that meets the needs of the loved one. When a decision is finally made regarding where that person will go there is likely a great sense of relief. Unfortunately, that relief may be misplaced. This is because all too often nursing home residents face abuse at the hands of their caretakers.

According to the CEO of the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging, there were close to 40,000 cases of elder abuse, exploitation or neglect reported to Adult Protective Services in 2014. Those reports resulted in the investigation of approximately 10,000 cases.

Elder abuse can take many forms. The abuse can be physical or emotional. Sometimes abuse occurs when a resident’s possessions are taken. Occasionally the things taken are medications prescribed to the resident. In the latter situation, this theft could result in the resident experiencing serious pain, injury, or even death.

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