Posted November 30, 2016 | Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
It’s a story that seems too outrageous to be true, but unfortunately, every word is fact. Five Chicago nursing home residents were hospitalized after overdosing on heroin in February, leading to six-figure fines for Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, where the violation occurred. The question is, why wasn’t anyone there to prevent this incident from occurring? This is a scenario where failure to monitor residents led to a mishap which could have been fatal, showing how issues like neglect and lack of supervision can create situations where nursing home wrongful death can occur.
A Chicago nursing home was fined more than $100,000 after five residents overdosed on heroin in February. Fortunately, all five of the residents recovered after hospitalization; but the outcome could have been much worse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 10,000 people died from fatal heroin overdoses in 2015 alone, with sharp increases in heroin deaths reported every year from 2010 onward.
Though not a demographic commonly associated with heroin use, seniors are at increased risk of death, especially because many take medications which can have lethal interactions with heroin. Some examples of drugs that belong in this category include prescription opiates (such as OxyContin/oxycodone and Vicodin/hydrocodone), tranquilizers (such as Xanax/alprazolam and Valium/diazepam), and an older but still occasionally prescribed generation of anti-depressants called tricyclics (such as Elavil/amitriptyline).
Similar incidents may have occurred at Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in the past. According to a report by the Chicago Police Department, in September 2015 a 56-year-old male resident was discovered lying on the floor of his room next to five baggies of powder.
These incidents go far beyond what is acceptable, or even thought of as unfortunate-but-typical, in a nursing home setting. As Illinois Alliance for Living executive director Terry Sullivan told the Chicago Tribune, “I have never heard of that. No question that’s uncommon.”
Yet there’s an additional detail that makes these violations even more disturbing. Despite a law that requires nursing homes to disclose abnormal or harmful events to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the September overdose was never reported. The IDPH was not aware of the incident until it was investigated by the Tribune – and, if not for the Tribune’s interest, it may have never been discovered at all.
Continental was fined $76,000 for the February incident in which five residents overdosed. Additionally, the IDPH imposed a $25,000 fine alleging failure to adequately supervise and treat substance-addicted residents, bringing the total fine to just over $100,000.
Moishe Gubin, part-owner of Continental, told the Tribune he was unaware of any overdoses among residents at the facility, adding, “If you look at our company historically, we generally give good care. It’s not lack of resources or staff, or they cheaped out and didn’t take care of people. You’ll never hear about that with us.”
In some regards, Gubin may be right. However, Medicare’s free Nursing Home Compare service – which scores the nursing homes based on resident care and past violations – tells a slightly different story.
As of November 2016, Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center has earned only one out of five possible stars, giving the facility a “much below average” overall rating. Continental also scored one star in the health inspections category, though it did earn three stars (“average”) for staffing measures and four stars (“above average”) for quality measures.
Nursing Home Compare’s data on health inspections at Continental – the category where the facility scored lowest – revealed 13 health deficiencies, nearly twice the average number (7.7) reported in Illinois facilities. That figure included:
To see how local nursing homes stack up, take a look at our list of the best nursing homes in Philadelphia.
Heroin overdoses are out of the ordinary in nursing homes, but other health and safety violations are common. If you’re concerned that your grandma, grandpa, mom, or dad is being mistreated, neglected, or overmedicated at his or her nursing home facility, get help immediately – before it’s too late.
An experienced Philadelphia nursing home abuse attorney, like Brent Wieand, can help you hold the negligent nursing home accountable while fighting for compensation on your loved one’s behalf. Brent Wieand handles a wide array of personal injury cases related to nursing home abuse, including nursing home bedsores, nursing home falls, nursing home neglect, and other issues jeopardizing the safety of residents. To talk about your family member’s situation in a free and completely confidential consultation, call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (888) 789-3161.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*