Articles Posted in Elder Abuse

According to a report from KGTV 10 News, San Diego, California, the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is taking a toughened stance against instances of “social media abuse” in nursing homes. The CMS issued a nationwide memo to state health departments calling upon nursing homes and the state departments that oversee their operations to begin creating and following policies limiting the ability of nursing home workers to abuse residents through social media. The new directives come after numerous cases across the country – including one alleged, recently-reported instance in Vista – of nursing home workers taking advantage of residents under their care using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Used to Abuse Nursing Home Residents

Numerous incidents paint a picture of the “typical” instance of nursing home abuse: An elderly resident residing in a nursing home is vulnerable because he or she is suffering from some physical and/or (oftentimes) mental condition. Nursing home workers take photographs or videos of these residents in various stages of undress or in other embarrassing circumstances and then upload these photos and videos to social media platforms. This (of course) is designed to expose the nursing home resident to embarrassment and humiliation (although, because of the mental conditions many of these residents have, the residents themselves are often unaware of what the nursing home worker is doing). Family and friends of the mistreated resident are oftentimes made aware of the humiliating photo or video when they come upon it online by chance.

“Patient dumping” used to refer to the practice of a hospital or other care facility kicking a patient out of their facility if that patient’s resources dried up. At that point, the healthcare facility was not likely to obtain any further compensation for their efforts at treating the patient, and these facilities needed to make room for new patients who needed treatment – and who could pay for it.

Within the past few weeks, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have asked healthcare providers about a new healthcare fraud scheme that also goes by the name “patient dumping.” In this particular scheme, health care providers like doctors’ offices and urgent care centers entice patients who would otherwise qualify for Medicare or Medicaid to sign up for private health insurance policies. In some alleged instances, the third party enticing the patient may even agree to pay for the patient’s insurance premium in order to secure the patient’s participation in the scheme. In this way, patients are “dumped” into private health insurance plans that they would not otherwise be able to afford.

What Benefit Do the Third Party “Enticers” Receive?

It’s unfortunate but true, financial elder abuse is a growing problem.  Unscrupulous thieves conducting consumer fraud schemes may target older individuals because they perceive seniors as more trusting or simply because older people may have accumulated more wealth.  As a San Francisco elder abuse lawyer and a San Francisco financial fraud attorney, Greg Brod is committed to stopping ALL forms of elder abuse whether it targets the person’s physical, mental, or financial well-being.

Examples of Financial Elder Abuse from the State Bar of California

An elder abuse information pamphlet felderfraudrom the State Bar of California (“State Bar”) explains that seniors are often the targets of consumer fraud scams.  According to the pamphlet, Americans lose billions of dollars per year due to telephone and mail scams alone.  E-mail and even in-person scams are also a threat.

The calendar is filled with days we love celebrating including New Year’s Day, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving Day to name just a few.  There are other days that are vitally important, but that we wish there wasn’t any need to mark.  June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, is one such day.  It is a day to remember the victims of an ever-increasing, worldwide epidemic of elder abuse.  It is not a happy day, but it is one that is important to remember because our San Francisco elder abuse law firm knows that awareness is a key part of fighting this terrible wrong.

June 15 — World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

According to the Administration on worldelderabusedayAging’s National Council on Elder Abuse (“NCEA”), World Elder Abuse Day (“WEAAD”) was launched ten years ago by the World Health Organization at the United Nations.  WEADD is intended as an opportunity for communities across to globe to work together to advance a better understanding of the problems of abuse and neglect facing older individuals.  According to the NCEA, some 5 million older Americans are victimized each year by some form of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.  This number is likely a gross underestimate; experts believe that for every case that is reported, up to 23 go unreported.

cash2As a new year dawns, it occurs to us that our work is a mix of retrospective moments and prospective planning, focusing on difficult moments with the hopes of helping our clients move forward.  We are proud of this work, but enjoy using this blog to help prevent these terrible moments.  In this spirit, we turn today to the problem of financial scams targeting seniors.  Elder abuse, one of our firm’s specialty practice areas, includes physical, emotional, and financial harm.  Although people of any age can be impacted, seniors are disproportionately targeted with financial fraud targeting seniors on the rise.  Today, our San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Rosa financial abuse lawyer looks at some common scams from 2015 with the hopes of helping readers guard their money in 2016.

The Top Ten Scams of 2016 (Plus Two)

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat recently ran an informative article that elaborates on the Better Business Bureau’s (“BBB”) list of the Top Ten Scams of 2015, a list we’d subtitle “That You Should Watch Out for in 2015”:

Trust.  It is an essential part of living in a community from trusting the food we purchase is safe to trusting opposing traffic will stop when they have a red light.  As our population ages, another form of trust becomes ever more important – trusting that elder care facilities will care for and protect their residents.  A shocking example of the violation of this trust arises when facilities fail to guard against sexual elder abuse.  Difficult as it is to think about, sexual abuse in nursing homes is a very real threat and our San Francisco nursing home abuse lawyer believes elder care facilities must take swift and comprehensive action when sexual abuse occurs whether the perpetrator is a nursing home employee or another resident.

Civil Suit Follows Investigation into Nursing Home’s Failure to Report Sexual Assault

On June 16, a civil lawsuit was filed in Washington state involving allegations that a nursing home failed to take appropriate steps to protect a resident from sexual abuse.  KOMO 4 News and Wenatchee World (via San Mateo County’s Network of Care) report that the estate of Christine Trowbridge filed the suit against Cashmere Convalescent Center.  The civil action follows government investigations, including a $6,500 fine levied by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services for failing to intervene in or report the abuse.

In modern day America, many working adults find themselves as a caregiver two times over, caring for their growing children and aging parents. Often the needs of aging parents become too great for their adult children to address on their own and, especially when physical or mental illness is an issue, a nursing home is the best option. However, while there are many places that provide excellent care, others are the stuff of nightmares. Overmedication in nursing homes is a major problem and it is one of the forms of abuse we help people fight as a San Francisco nursing home abuse lawyer.

NPR Reports on the Overuse of Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes

Last month, NPR reported on the problem of drugging in nursing homes, opening with the fact that almost 300,000 nursing home residents receive antipsychotic medications. These medications are approved for serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but are often used to suppress anxiety and pillhand.jpg agitation in Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. This is despite the fact that the medications carry a black box warning, the most serious warning a drug can carry while remaining on the market, indicating they can raise the risk of heart failure, infection, and even death when used by dementia patients. Even when they are medically indicated, these drugs should be used for as short a period as possible, often only a month. Still, as in examples cited in the NPR article demonstrate, many care centers use these drugs for the convenience of the staff because they can sedate patients and blunt behaviors. Guardians and patients often agree to the medications without knowing the drugs are unnecessary.

Nursing home abuse is a terrible crime that preys on the very people whom society should most respect. Abuse in senior care facilities can take a range of forms including physical, sexual, emotional, and financial mistreatment as well as neglect. Often, abuse is perpetrated by overworked staff members and the law typically holds both the individual abuser and his/her employer criminally and civilly responsible. There is, however, a less talked about scenario – resident-on-resident nursing home abuse, also known as peer abuse Our experienced Northern California nursing home abuse law firm believes that care centers should be held liable when their negligence or failure to provide adequate care allows one resident to abuse another.

Resident Dispute Ends With Stabbing at Sacramento Senior Care Facility

A case of peer abuse is believed to have left a 75 year-old woman with serious injuries according to an article in Monday’s Oakland Tribune. Police believe that 70 year-old Barbara Holland had an ongoing dispute with her neighbor at St. Francis Manor, a senior living facility in Sacramento. According to investigators, Holland arrived at her neighbor’s door last Saturday armed with a knife and stabbed the 75 year-old before fleeing the scene. Eventually, Holland was found in her own apartment, arrested, and booked on suspicion of attempted murder. Doctors say the 75 year-old, who was taken to an area hospital, is expected to survive.

Choosing a nursing home or other senior care facility is a difficult and emotional decision. There are many factors to consider, many of which can spark intense family debates, including location, price, and available forms of care. There are also more individualized factors like whether the prospective resident has friends at the facility, whether the facility has a religious affiliation, and the input provided by the resident’s current doctors. That last item, the advice of medical professionals, can be extremely persuasive and a good doctor will assess numerous factors before voicing an opinion. Kickbacks from nursing homes should never cloud a doctor’s professional judgment. While that may sound obvious, payments to doctor for referrals our Northern California Medicare fraud law firm knows illegal kickbacks are more common than most of us would like to think and pose both a financial threat to the Medicare program and a threat to patients’ health and well-being.

Whistleblower Alleges Kickbacks Were Key Part of Medicare Fraud by Senior Care Network

According to the Broward Bulldog, the Plaza Health Network has worked to maintain a top-notch reputation since its founding 64 years ago as a home for Jewish seniors and war veterans who could no longer live alone and/or care for themselves. Plaza is now a non-profit with corporate offices in Aventura, Florida, and runs eight care facilities in the Miami region open to seniors of all denominations. The company’s reputation may, however, change dramatically if a lawsuit alleging health care fraud is successful

Earlier this month we wrote about the theft of prescription drugs, focusing on the growing problem of medications being stolen from our nation’s seniors and why drug theft is a form of elder abuse. We urge all readers to ensure their own medications and those of loved ones are kept in a secure location. These robbery-type crimes are not the only form of prescription theft. As a Northern California Medicare fraud law firm, we are closely watching the issue of Medicare drug thefts crimes that sometimes take advantage of quirky rules and can amount to health care fraud.

Study Identifies Problem of Drugs Dispensed to Deceased Medicare Beneficiaries

In October, the inspector general for the Health and Human Services Department (“HHS”) released a report Medicare rule pursuant to which the program covers prescriptions for up to 32 days after the patient’s death. The investigators focused on a small sliver of medications and identified 158 patients whose HIV-related drugs were covered after their deaths in 2012. In one patient’s case, Medicare records show two separate medication purchases involving three pill$.jpgdrugs each that were covered after he died – charges that amounted to $7,610. Another case involved a Michigan man for whom six prescriptions from two different doctors were ordered and paid for after his death to the tune of $5,616 in Medicare costs.