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Pittsburgh Elder Law Blog

Social Security Disability can help after an injury

Individuals may never know when an accident or injury will occur. Recent tragic events, such the shooting at a country music concert, have left hundreds of people injured and caused the deaths of many others. In Pennsylvania, some employers offer long-term disability insurance as an optional benefit. For those who do not carry this type of insurance, Social Security Disability benefits may be an option to assist with a source of income after a debilitating injury. 

Long-term disability insurance is an optional benefit that is offered by certain employers as a job perk. Enrollment in this type of plan is typically low. More people tend to choose life insurance over disability insurance if they have to choose one. One reason for this is because private disability insurance premiums can be somewhat costly. 

Pennsylvania center loses license after nursing home neglect

One resident in an assisted care facility was able to escape and could not be found. One month later, the body of the deceased female resident was located approximately two miles from the nursing home. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has formally pulled the license of the woman's care center due to charges of nursing home neglect

The woman was a resident of a senior living community. She received services there due to the effects of Alzheimer's disease. In late August, she was reported missing from the facility. Early searches for the woman did not result in her return. She was located almost one month later, deceased in a drainage ditch not far from the senior care home. 

Pennsylvania care corporation investigated for nursing home abuse

A recent incident in a skilled care facility has led to questions about consent and dementia. An incident in a nursing home involving sexual contact between a male resident and a female resident with dementia was reported. The corporate owner of the nursing home chain, located in Pennsylvania, moved to close the out-of-state home in the wake of the nursing home abuse allegations. 

A staff member at the nursing home found the female Alzheimer's patient nude in her bed. The staff person also observed the male resident in the room, pulling up his pants and returning to his wheelchair. The woman reported that she had been intimate with her late husband, indicating confusion. The state Department of Public Health has charged the facility with failure to keep the female resident safe from abuse. 

Hospital negligence blamed for death of Pennsylvania boy

A young boy left wrapped in a heating blanket has lost his life. Procedures regarding monitoring the patient and reporting the death were reportedly violated, making this a case of hospital negligence. The Pennsylvania hospital was cited for infractions, and a family is left mourning the loss of their son. 

The boy was brought into the Hershey Medical Center with an extremely low temperature. He was admitted to the hospital and was treated with a heating blanket designed to bring up a person's body temperature. As his temperature returned to normal, he was monitored with checks. Unfortunately, overnight the temperatures were not properly monitored and documented. In the morning, the boy was found, still wrapped in the heating blanket, unresponsive and with a temperature of over 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Emergency preparedness can prevent dehydration in nursing homes

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to motivate large institutions to change. The recent events in which several nursing home residents died after Hurricane Irma have federal lawmakers ready to expand rules about backup power sources in these facilities. Pennsylvania nursing homes will not have to ensure that the emergency plan maintains a backup power supply in case of emergency. In the event of a loss of power during a heat wave, nursing home residents are vulnerable to dehydration and heatstroke. 

Starting November 16 of this year, all nursing homes that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds must adopt new emergency preparedness standards. Among the new regulations is the requirement that nursing homes have a secondary source of power to maintain safe temperatures within the nursing home. In the event of an emergency, this will preserve food, medication and residents' health. 

Will nursing home neglect cases be settled only by arbitration?

A person who has been wronged deserves a fair chance to have it made right. This is the underlying sentiment when a person must sue a senior care center for nursing home neglect or abuse. Some homes, like other larger companies, would prefer to handle these types of cases through arbitration. Pennsylvania residents may wish to follow the developing news about elder care and settling disputes. 

In the past, senior care centers were forbidden from forcing their residents to sign arbitration agreements if the home took federal funds. Currently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are considering withdrawing that requirement. Proponents argue that disputes will be settled quickly, and without undue burden on the businesses. Critics claim that arbitration necessarily favors big business.

Updated tech options for Social Security disability applicants

As the population ages, more seniors are familiar and comfortable with modern technology since they have been using tech like email and smartphones for years. In a move to keep up with the times, the Social Security Administration is now providing online applications and two-step authentication. Individuals applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are able to do so online, or they may choose one of the many in-person offices across Pennsylvania. 

The two-step authentication process provides an extra layer of security for applicants. When completing an application, individuals can choose text message or email as the second authentication method to verify the identity of the person. Some older seniors and individuals in more rural locations can be unfamiliar with the concept of multi-step verification, but the process is common for online application and bill-paying tasks. 

Pennsylvania ranks ninth in nursing home abuse ER visits

A recent investigation by the Health and Human Services inspector general's office revealed some sobering facts about senior care and reporting issues in the country. The government audit revealed that some incidents of possible nursing home abuse were not being immediately reported to law enforcement, as required by a federal law. The investigators fault Medicare for not enforcing the existing law. Pennsylvania ranked ninth in the study for number of emergency room visits due to suspected abuse. 

When a nursing home resident visits the emergency room due to possible abuse, federal law mandates that it must be reported within two hours if serious bodily injury occurs and within 24 hours otherwise. The inspector general's office compiled data from a large sampling of 33 states, finding 134 cases of ER visits due to possible neglect or abuse over a two-year period. Of those 134 cases, 28 percent were not reported to the authorities. In four of five cases not reported to the authorities, the incidents were related to alleged sexual abuse. 

Medical malpractice errors a factor in maternal mortality

Maternal mortality rates have been increasing in the United States. A number of factors, including medical malpractice, are thought to be to blame. A Pennsylvania program called Safe Start aims to help mothers find resources to meet medical and social needs. 

The Centers for Disease Control finds that maternal mortality rates have been increasing for at least the past two decades, even as infant mortality rates are on the decline. As medical systems become more fragmented, new mothers, especially those lacking good health insurance, find it harder to get appropriate care. When symptoms are missed or obstetric emergencies are not treated properly, the risk of maternal death increases. 

Pennsylvania hospital charged with medical malpractice

A woman's unfortunate death is part of a recent lawsuit against Geisinger-Community Medical Center. The woman's husband has filed a medical malpractice suit against the Pennsylvania hospital, alleging that its neglect to properly analyze an EKG led to his wife's death. The defendant in the case denies liability, and no conclusion has been reached in the case at this time. 

The lawsuit stems from a 2016 incident in which the woman went to the emergency room complaining of chest pain, nausea, and belching. The physicians ordered tests, including an EKG. No urgent care was ordered; the physicians attributed the woman's complaints as an allergy and sent her home the following day. Later on the second day, she returned to the emergency room complaining of shortness of breath, went into cardiac arrest and died. 

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