Articles Posted in Georgia nursing home abuse

Researchers from the University of South Carolina have published an in-depth report about how better training of certified nurses assistants (CNAs) could make a significant impact on reducing nursing home abuse and neglect.  CNAs provide the vast majority of daily care that seniors living in residential care settings receive. CNAs provide assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, and doing other routine daily tasks.  Despite the important role CNAs play in a senior’s life, they are often paid very little, have few career opportunities for advancement, and have minimal training.  Most have only a high-school diploma and have completed approximately 75-hours of additional training required for certification.  grandmother-809535-m

When a CNA is neglectful or abusive to a senior in a nursing facility, the victim of the abuse or his or her family members may take legal action against the nursing home employing the nursing assistant. An Atlanta nursing home neglect lawyer can provide assistance in pursuing a damage claim. Nursing homes can be held responsible for negligent actions of their workers, so it is in the best interest of residential care facilities to ensure CNAs receive adequate training.

Proper CNA Training Can Reduce Risks of Atlanta Nursing Home Neglect

When abuse or negligence occurs in a nursing home, the hope is that someone will report it. This could be a staff member, a family member of a patient, or the patient himself.  When the abuse is reported, steps can be taken to correct the problem and ensure that other residents are safe from harm.  Protocols can be changed to resolve problems that lead to abuse or neglect and the vulnerable residents of the nursing home can be protected. memories-252799-m

Unfortunately, top managers and even owners of nursing homes have an incentive not to report abuse, but to cover it up.  Syracuse.com, for example, recently reported that the owner of one nursing home as well as several top managers of the nursing facility were indicted and faced multiple criminal charges for covering up instances of abuse or neglect.

An Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer can provide assistance to residents and family members when abuse occurs. Nursing home abuse cases can make nursing home companies, owners, and executives responsible for the harm that their actions cause.  When a nursing home abuse case results in a large verdict for the plaintiff, the verdict can also send a message to other facilities that abuse is never acceptable.  This is an important part of preventing future abuse because the risk of a lawsuit can change the incentives for managers and executives.

The job of a Medicaid fraud investigator is to try to identify health care providers who are improperly taking money from the Medicaid system. Medicaid is a form of health insurance for lower income people, so a lot of Medicaid fraud involves things like billing for health services that were not provided or billing too much for treatments that were offered. detective-desktop-558786-m

However, Medicaid has also become one of the primary payers of nursing home care. Nursing homes are extremely costly and many seniors cannot afford these facilities on their own so instead end up relying on Medicaid to pay the bills. Because Medicaid pays for nursing home care for a large percentage of nursing home residents, fraud investigators can work not only to identify situations where the government is losing money, but also situations where nursing home residents are being mistreated. Continue Reading

Nursing home abuse is on the rise in Georgia.  As AJC.com reports, the Georgia Counsel on Aging indicates that there has been a 65 percent increase in reported nursing home abuse between 2008 and 2012.  The problem is likely to only grow worse as the population ages.  By 2050, as many as 20 percent of the total U.S. population will be 65 and up. Many of these seniors are going to be cared for by low-paid and untrained workers in nursing home facilities that are overcrowded and understaffed. court decision gavel arbitration

Lawmakers in Georgia are trying to address the problem and provide more protections for seniors in nursing home facilities.   Northwest Georgia News reported on GA House Bill 72, which is designed to tighten elder abuse laws, close loopholes in existing regulation, and boost the tools that law enforcement officers have to fight elder abuse crimes.  If this bill passes, it could make a significant difference in how patients are treated and in what happens when nursing homes fail in their duties. Continue Reading

Nursing home abuse takes many different forms, but one of the most dangerous types of abuse involves the overmedication of patients.  Patients with dementia are particularly vulnerable to this type of abuse, although it could happen to anyone who is living in a nursing home.  Abuse of medication can change a senior’s personality, increase the risk of falls, cause serious health conditions and even cause death. Yet, despite the risks, overmedication happens every day in nursing homes throughout the country. prescription-bottle---blank-label-991548-m

The problem stems from the fact that the behavior of some nursing home patients is difficult to control. This is especially true of patients with advanced dementia, as these patients may become anxious and aggressive. Staff members may not know how to deal with patients, or may not wish to expend the energy to provide appropriate care for troubled nursing home residents. Instead of providing adequate and appropriate care, patients are medicated with powerful anti-psychotic drugs to make them docile. An Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer should be consulted if this is happening to someone that you love who is in a nursing home. Continue Reading

Nursing homes are required by federal law to report any and all allegations of neglect or abuse that are made by residents or family members. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are not living up to their reporting obligations. This makes it difficult for the government to enforce rules designed to ensure patient safety. When a nursing home fails to report possible abuse or neglect, family members and seniors looking for a residential care environment may also be deprived of information they need to make an informed choice. nursing home

Every credible accusation of potential abuse and neglect should be investigated. Victims who need help understanding their rights and obtaining compensation for abuse should consult with an Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer for assistance with their case. In many situations, having an attorney is the only way to get justice and to ensure that the negligent nursing home does not do more harm to other vulnerable seniors.

Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse May Be Underreported

Our Atlanta elder abuse attorneys read an article about an employee of a nursing home in Thomasville being accused of elder abuse. That employee is Shauntavia Bates, a 25-year-old who worked at Southern Pines Senior Living. On May 16, police allege that Ms. Bates hit an elderly 81-year-old woman and sprayed her with water as she called for help. Another employee heard her cries and went to investigate. The other employee said she saw the elderly woman standing in the shower and Ms. Bates was forcing water into her mouth. The woman could not speak at that point because her mouth was too full of liquid. The other employee also saw Ms. Bates hit the woman with the back of her hand on her neck.

10454220916_c9beae9735_m.jpgAnother woman, Ms. Bates’ supervisor Stacey Sams, was allegedly told about the abuse and did not report it. Ms. Sams has now also been charged for failure to report abuse of a disabled or elderly person, which is a misdemeanour crime.

The police were only notified of this incident in June. Ms. Bates was arrested in June, one day after the incident was reported. Ms. Sams turned herself in a few days after Ms. Bates’ arrest. Thomasville Police Department spokesperson Lieutenant Eric Hampton said, “Disturbing when you hear these kind of things happen. We take it very seriously when it’s reported to us and so we do take immediate action.” He further said, “The reason Ms. Sams was charged in the case is because she failed to report it after the witness had reported it to her.” Southern Pines Senior Living said they brought the incident to the police when they learned of it and are cooperating in the investigation.

Our Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers have followed the case of George Houser (see previous blog post here) since he was convicted of fraud in 2012. This month the case was in the news again, as the federal appeals court upheld that conviction.

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George Houser, 66 years old, was convicted in 2012 of conspiracy to defraud Medicare, failure to file quarterly tax returns, and failure to file income taxes in a four-week long trial and a 471 page judgment. This is all related to his role as a nursing home operator in Georgia, where he had two nursing homes providing “worthless services.” The two nursing homes were in Rome, Georgia, and Houser also managed a third nursing facility between 2003 and 2007. The homes had insufficient staff and inadequate budgets. There were numerous physical problems: leaky roofs flooding residents’ rooms, no air conditioning or heating, broken laundry facilities, and bug infestations. Some residents were severely malnourished, losing weight while they stayed in the nursing homes. Mr. Houser allegedly told his staff to use their own money to buy the residents bread and milk, so they would not starve. Additionally he avoided paying payroll taxes on his employees and made infrequent payments to the IRS during the years at issue, and many of the checks he did send bounced. From this horrific scheme, the trial court found that Mr. Houser gained $2.28 million, put into his personal bank account, another $460,000 in his wife’s account, and $1.75 million in an account for his construction company between 2003 and 2007. With that money, he bought $4 million worth of property, luxury cars, and made alimony payments.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Mr. Houser sought reimbursement from Medicare and Georgia’s Medicaid for services, such as pharmaceutical, diagnostic, medical, and dietary, that were not provided. The Court rejected Mr. Houser’s contention that he didn’t “wilfully” avoid paying taxes. The Court upheld Mr. Houser’s conviction and his 20-year prison sentence, plus more than $7 million in restitution to his victims. It also upheld the restitution of $870,000 to the IRS. The Appeals Court found that the trial court did not err in its April 2012 conviction and the evidence clearly supported the trial court’s decision, stating, “On appeal, Mr. Houser does not contest the deplorable conditions of his nursing homes; indeed, he recites, in detail, those conditions in his opening brief.” The decision also found, “We believe that this record, taken as a whole, reveals that Mr. Houser apprehended his obligation to pay over payroll taxes, but voluntarily and intentionally chose to spend available funds on the acquisition of personal goods and investment properties as opposed to satisfying his legal obligations. The record, therefore, amply supports the district court’s conviction.”

Our Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers know that unlicensed nursing care homes are a problem in our state, which is why the Georgia Department of Community Health is partnering with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to crack down on these unlicensed homes, according to news reports.

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The partnership also includes the Adult Protective Services, which is under the Department of Human Services. The group will be aggressive in working to stop unlicensed homes from staying in business. Clyde Reese, the commissioner of the Department of Community Health, said the facilities deliver “substandard care to the elderly and disabled.” The unlicensed homes are operating throughout Georgia, and many are near Atlanta and in southwest Georgia. Mr. Reese contends that it is a growing problem and that there are hundreds of unlicensed homes in the state, along with increased incidents of elder abuse. This is exacerbated by the vulnerable nature of seniors, who are often unable to defend themselves or even speak up about abuse. And to avoid legal troubles, unlicensed homes often switch residences.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations intends to share intelligence and data gathering with the Department.

This week our Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers read a news story about a case of identity theft at a Georgia nursing home that lead to two criminal cases and one lengthy sentence so far.

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Yolanda Blount, also known as Yolanda King, a 32-year-old woman from Macon, was charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy, theft of public money, aggravated identity theft, and access device fraud. Ms. Blount admitted that she had taken information from nursing home patients, stealing their identities, and then used that information to file false tax returns. Investigators found tax returns showing she filed for $511,951 in refunds and actually received $460,692 from the IRS. Some federal tax refunds were processed in the names of patients and mailed to Ms. Blount’s address, while others were deposited directly into Ms. Blount’s persona bank account.

Ms. Blount pled guilty to the crimes last September, admitting that she had been engaged in these identity theft activities since 2010. She was helped by Raquel Hogan, who was employed at Macon Management Health and Rehabilitation Center. Ms. Blount was sentenced on Friday by the Honorable Marc T. Treadwell, United States District Court Judge, in Macon, Georgia. Ms. Blount received a 27-year prison sentence and was ordered to pay $493,506.60 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. Ms. Hogan also pled guilty for her involvement and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 19th in Macon.