Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

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On February 6, 2013, the Chicago law firm of Goldberg & Goldberg filed a wrongful death case on behalf of the Estate of Genevieve Klimczak who died on February 12, 2012. Ms. Klimczak was a resident of McHenry Villa, a self described “retirement community” offering 24 hour a day security…”so residents can leave the worries of living alone behind them.” McHenry Villa and Home Instead, Inc. have been named as defendants in the lawsuit. McHenry Villa is located at 3516 W. Waukegan Road in McHenry, Illinois.

On February 12, 2012, Genevieve Klimczak a 91 year old resident of McHenry Villa with Alzheimer’s disease was allowed to elope from her room at McHenry Villa and walk out of the building through a self-locking door that could not be opened from the outside. Ms. Klimczak’s body was found the next morning by employees of McHenry Villa. The temperature overnight was as low as 7 degrees Fahrenheit. At the time, Ms Klimczak was being attended by caregivers from Home Instead, Inc. Ms. Klimczak is survived by her nephews, Donald Lorenz and John Lorenz, and her niece, Evelyn Marthalar.. Mrs. Klimczak was a lifelong resident of Chicago.

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This blog entry comes courtesy of the President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and was published in the February 24, 2011 edition of the Belleville News Democrat:

It is once again time to set the record straight with your editorial board. There was never a health care crisis in this state and there were no “jackpot justice conditions” that caused doctors to flee Illinois.

Your editorial board and the president of the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) have chosen to ignore important facts when it comes to medical care access in this state. Over the years, we have consistently increased the number of physicians in our state. That’s right. The American Medical Association data reflects increases for each of the last 45 years. Clearly not a climate of doctors leaving Illinois or retiring early.

Funny how it used to be, for years, ISMS would falsely claim doctors were fleeing our state and that we already had a shortage of doctors because of fabricated “jackpot justice conditions.” As the data has failed to support that claim, the dialogue now shifts to an attempt to create a “future crisis”. In fact, a recent survey – funded in part by ISMS – clearly demonstrated oversaturation of physicians in the largest populated area of our state. That’s correct – more than enough doctors in the greater Chicagoland area.

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The following blog entry comes courtesy of a guest blogger, Stacy H. Federico, who has a blog devoted to raising awareness of Type II Diabetes and the benefits of healthy eating. We would like to thank her for her contribution to our blog.

Taking 10,000 steps every day (or walking about five miles) is incredibly useful to you.

I started walking 30 days ago. I wake up every day at 5:30 and walk about 5 mls (with my dog).

I had been so happy with myself. Recently a buddy told me, “What are you currently doing for exercise today?” I informed her about the walking, and she said, “Yeah, but what exactly are you doing for exercise?”

She declared that walking does not get the heart rate up sufficiently and won’t do one thing to enhance my overall health or my waist line and that if I needed to lose any weight, I needed a true workout.

Well , I informed her the 10,000 steps philosophy isn’t new…the good news is the 10,000 steps regimen has additionally been linked with an increase in insulin sensitivity in over 50 adults.

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The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) overhauled Medicare’s perspective on payment for medical care related to “never events” including a list of delineated hospital acquired conditions. Hospitals will no longer receive reimbursement for conditions that are (a) high cost or high volume or both, (b) result in the assignment of a case to a DRG that has a higher payment when present as a secondary diagnosis, and (c) could reasonably have been prevented through the application of evidence-based guidelines. The ten categories for hospital acquired conditions are: Foreign Object Retained After Surgery,.Air Embolism,,Blood Incompatibility, Stage III and IV Pressure Ulcers, Falls and Trauma including, Fractures, Dislocations, Intracranial Injuries, Crushing Injuries, Burns and Electric Shock, Manifestations of Poor Glycemic Control including, Diabetic Ketoacidosis, Nonketotic Hyperosmolar Coma, Hypoglycemic Coma, Secondary Diabetes with Ketoacidosis and Secondary Diabetes with Hyperosmolarity, Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection, Vascular Catheter-Associated Infection, Surgical Site Infection Following Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) – Mediastinitis, Bariatric Surgery, Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass, Gastroenterostomy, Laparoscopic Gastric Restrictive Surgery, Orthopedic Procedures and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)/Pulmonary Embolism (PE).

While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have prohibited hospitals from recovering payment for the treatment of secondary conditions acquired in the hospital, practically, these charges are often submitted and paid by Medicare long before and attorney becomes involved and makes a claim for medical malpractice. Careful examination of the supporting documentation Medicare provides at the time they require reimbursement often reveals that benefits were paid for hospital acquired events.

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The Illinois Supreme Court in a 4-2 decision struck down limits on damages awards in medical malpractice cases with its decision in Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital on thursday. The court held that the legislation was unconstitutional. The majority opinion, authored by Justice Fitzgeral held, in part: “[W]e necessarily consider…the legislature’s goal in enacting the statue-responding to a health-care crisis. Our separation of powers analysis, however, does not stop there. The crux of our analysis is whether the statue unduly infringes upon the inherent power of the judiciary. Here, the legislature’s attempt to limit…damages in medical malpractice actions runs afoul of the separation of powers clause.”

This is a major victory for patients and consumers in Illinois. The legislature has tried, on three seperate occasions, to enact caps on damages in medical malpractice cases. For years lobbiests for the insurance industry have argued that medical malpractice awards have contributed to the high cost of health care in Illinois despite the fact that insurace payouts on these claims have remained level for the past two decades.

All citizens of Illinois should have a right to ask a jury of their peers for redress when they have been victimized by negligence, regardless of the profession of the guilty party. To see a copy of the Supreme Courts landmark opinion look here.

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Conventional wisdom says don’t get sick over the holidays. Hospitals are understaffed, doctors are distracted and the overall quality of medical care is diminished at even the finest of institutions. Over and over again we see cases at otherwise fine Chicago area hospitals that have one thing in common. The negligence occurs over the Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s holidays. Unfortunately, we can’t choose when we get sick and people certaintly need medical help over the holidays, so keep the following in mind:

Become an advocate for yourself. Hospitals run on skeleton shift over any major holiday. Do not simply assume that Doctors and Nurses are thinking about you and your condition, they are not. they are thinking about the holidays like everyone else. Remind them of critical information and ask questions. If you are not satisfied with a response make sure they explain it to you again in plain english until you understand.

Go up the Chain of Command. if you are unhappy with the care you are receiving or if you are felling neglected, ask to speak with a supervisor, the head of the department or the vice-president of nursing. Doctors are accountable to the chairman of their service as well. Demand someone pay you the proper amount of attention.

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Joanne Doroshow wrote an excellent article in the Monday, November 9, 2009 edition of The Huffington Post called Medical Malpractice Tort Reform – We Are Already Suffering And Don’t Need More. She points out that unless you are currently living under a rock you have heard the term “tort reform” but, sadly, probably don’t know what it really means.

In Illinois we have tort reform as it relates to medical malpractice. Starting in 1985, and every ten years thereafter, the state legislature has based some sort of restriction on the publics right to sue for personal injury. In the late 1990s the Illinois Supreme Court struck down these restrictions, overruling the legislature, and finding them to be unconstitutional. The legislature, bowing to pressure from the insurance industry, tried again in 2005 and passed limits on jury awards as they relate to doctors and hospitals only. That legislation is currently being reviewed for constitutionality by the Supreme Court and we expect a ruling on the issue in the near future.

The term tort reform implies that its results would be beneficial to everyone. Sadly, this is not the case. Tort reform in Illinois will only make it harder for average hard working men and women to seek redress for the harms caused to them as victims of negligence. The tort reform movement was started by and is funded by insurance companies. The same companies that have the most to gain financially by limiting jury awards.

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In the wake of the devastating three part series in this week’s Chicago Tribune exposing Chicago and Illinois nursing homes and their practice of housing sex offenders and convicted felons with regular patients, Patrick Quinn, the Governor of Illinois, has announced the formation of a high level task force to look into these troubling issues.

The goal of the task force is to find safe ways to house those nursing home patients suffering from mental illness. The Tribune report exposed several shocking cases of nursing home abuse and neglect where residents were assaulted and/or raped by mentally ill criminals being housed in area nursing homes.

The Chicago Tribune has developed a website which will allows the public to track convicted felons and sex offenders residing in Chicago and Illinois nursing homes.

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Medical malpractice refers to a medical error or omission commited by a health care provider, usually a doctor nurse or other professional, which deviates from the standard of care or practice for that professional which causes harm or injury. In Illinois, the standard of care is defined as what a reasonably well-qualified professional would do under like or similiar circumstances. If a doctor’s care does not comply with the standard of care he is negligent.

In order to have an actionable medical malpractice case in Chicago, Cook County or throughout Illinois, a doctor’s negligence has to cause or contribute to cause an injury. It doesn’t need to be the only cause, or nearest cause, but can be any cause which in part causes an injury or harm to a patient.

Medical Malpractice is a highly technical practice area within the realm of personal injury law. Lawyers who concentrate on medical malpractice cases typically spend hundreds of thousands of dollars prosecuting their claims and often work on a contingency fee or percentage basis. Some examples of medical malpractice include obstetrical malpractice, failure to diagnose and/or treat cancer, surgical malpractice and nursing home abuse and neglect. At Goldberg & Goldberg we have represented the victims of medical malpractice for more then 40 years.

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It has been widely reported that more then 98,000 people die as a result of preventable medical malpractice each year. More people die each month in the United States from medical errors then were killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Medical Malpractice has become a vogue issue again as lawmakers talk of limiting the rights of patients who have been injured by negligent doctors and hospitals. The problem with the American health care system isnt medical malpractice lawsuits, its the medical erros themselves. According to a major report from tort reform advocates, if congress eliminated medical malpractice claims it would hardly make a dent in the overall cost of health care in America. Tort reform is not the answer to out of control health care costs.