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Pittsburgh Elder Law Blog

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. 

Pennsylvania patients evacuated to avoid nursing home neglect

An ongoing water issue has forced the evacuation of a senior care home. The Pennsylvania home experienced a water line break, and dozens of people were removed to a safer environment. The location had previous citations for nursing home neglect. A recent news story gives the latest updates about the water line break and the history of problems at the facility. 

The nursing home had already been placed on a provisional license, the first step in a four-step process that can result in a home's license being revoked. The provisional license stemmed from an inspection that found water leaking through a cracked window, as well as discovering that residents were not receiving prescribed medications. This was the agency's second provisional license within the span of one year. 

Pennsylvania bill seeks limits on medical malpractice awards

Some individuals feel that awards given to families after lawsuits actually limit the ability of nursing homes to give effective care. A bill has been introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature that would limit awards for punitive damages for medical malpractice lawsuits. A recent news story gives more information about the bill, which revises a 2002 law called Mcare.

Mcare, or the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act, set definitions of punitive care amongst its guidelines. Since then, some individuals felt that nursing homes were hindered by frivolous lawsuits and exorbitant punitive damage awards. The new bill, introduced this March, will set limits on the amounts that can be awarded.

Nursing home neglect among reasons for Pennsylvania fines

State regulators have been increasing fines and the number of violations at senior care centers since announcing a philosophical shift late last year. Almost three quarters of a million dollars in fines have been issued, a jump since 2014. A recent news story reports on the details of the fines and the nursing home neglect incidents in Pennsylvania homes.

The shift has moved the Pennsylvania Department of Health away from facility-based issues and more toward patient quality of life issues. Many of the fines were related to shortfalls in patient care that could have been avoided and that caused harm to residents. In two incidences, the patient in the nursing home died. Some of the incidents also included failure to summon a doctor immediately for chest pain, failure to give medicine for low blood sugar and a violation for water that was too hot. 

Delayed diagnosis alleged in Pennsylvania man's death

With serious ailments such as cancer, every day that the illness goes untreated means that the person is more likely to die. Early and aggressive treatment is the best way to ensure healing from serious cancers, and a delayed diagnosis can mean death. In a recent news story, a Pennsylvania woman, the executor of her husband's estate, is suing the Department of Veteran Affairs, alleging that insufficient measures were taken to diagnose the cancer that eventually killed him.

The man, a military veteran, died from pancreatic cancer. He had experienced abdominal pain and other medial issues that initially did not result in a cancer diagnosis. At a later time, and unfortunately too late for effective treatment, he was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. 

Child disability a concern for Pennsylvania Easter Seals CEO

Children with special needs depend on care and support from the greater community. Currently, children who are born or who become disabled are entitled to support from the Medicaid program for help with paying for medical services. Medicaid funding can then go to programs like Easter Seals to help children in need. In a recent article, the CEO of Easter Seals talks about the types of services that are provided by Medicaid through Easter Seals in Pennsylvania, and shares her concerns about the future of the child disability program. 

The Pennsylvania Easter Seals program serves approximately 2,300 children, over 2,000 of which receive all or part of their care from Medicaid. Medicaid makes it possible for those children and others like them to access health care and other essential services. Medicaid pays for early interventions such as physical, occupational and speech therapy. 

Nursing home neglect brings special focus on Pennsylvania home

Nursing homes are responsible for safety, good health, well-trained and abundant staff and quality programming in order to provide optimal care for elders. Most homes receive financial payments from Medicare and Medicaid and depend on those payments for the facility's survival. When a facility faces challenges, it can be classified as a "special focus facility" in which the facility is investigated and problems are addressed. A recent news story tells about a Pennsylvania nursing home, as well as homes in other states, that face such special focus due to issues with nursing home neglect and other problems. 

When residents of nursing homes fall, are abused or receive other suboptimal care, those incidents are reported. When so many incidents are reported, the nursing home them may be placed into the special focus category for additional scrutiny and improvements. When the quality of care is improved, the home is taken back off the list. Unfortunately, the statistics show that over half of the nursing homes that are taken off the special focus lists continue to have problems and poor medical care. 

Nursing home abuse reported in Pennsylvania facility

Families are encouraged to look for any red flags, and caregivers are expected to report harms committed against vulnerable elderly. Nursing home abuse is a widespread concern for individuals and families across the region. A recent news story tells about some Pennsylvania nursing home staff who are facing charges for abusing residents under their care. 

A caregiver in training reported the abuse to supervisors after witnessing two female staff members strangling and hitting a patient who was gasping for air as they dressed him. A third staff member, an LPN supervisor, was also charged with criminal conspiracy for not reporting the abuse she witnessed. Another incident was reported where a nursing home resident had ice dumped down into his shirt because he was making noise.

Surgical error results in award for Pennsylvania man

Medical professionals are trained to be cautious and thorough, but sometimes mistakes happen. One man in Pennsylvania has learned about medical mistakes the hard way. A recent news story tells the man's story of a surgical error and the lawsuit that followed.   

The man had gone to a surgeon after dealing with pain in his right testicle for 15 years. The surgeon recommended removal of the painful testicle, but when the surgery was performed, he accidentally removed the left testicle. The man sued the doctor after the mistake that left him still suffering with extreme pain in the remaining testicle and without the fully functioning testicle that was removed in error.  

Nursing home neglect suits possibly affected by new bill

Our elders deserve care and attention, and families should not be saddled with fears about how their relatives are being treated. Patients depend on staff training and hospital oversight. Nursing home patients also depend on the ability to sue if they have been abused and neglected in a nursing home. A recent news story out of Pennsylvania tells about a threat to such safety -- in the form of a new bill that poses threats to patients' ability to receive damages from improper care, including nursing home neglect and abuse.  

The bill is known as the Protecting Access to Care Act. Authors of the story say that the bill was rushed through committee with no opportunity for a public hearing. Opponents of the bill say that the bill helps doctors and hurts patients. 

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