Problems at Britthaven Nursing Home in Nags Head?
July 22nd, 2010
From Eye on Dare blog (July 22, 2010):
Dare Commissioner Virginia Tillett said this week that Britthaven Nursing Home in Nags Head is not doing an adequate job in caring for the elderly residents of the Outer Banks who are entrusted to their care. Tillett said she has been hearing compliants for the past six months and asked everyone to make suggestions as to how the Britthaven corporation could be encouraged to do a better job. She said Senator Marc Basnight was also interested in the problem.
If you would like to submit your suggestions, you can reach friendly ears here:
Senator Marc Basnight: Marc.Basnight@ncleg.net (919-733-6854)
Dare Commissioner Virginia Tillett: firstname.lastname@example.org (252-475-5000, main switchboard)
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
June 15th, 2010
Today, June 15, is the 5th annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Sponsored by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), the first Awareness Day in 2006 involved several hundred organizations and governmental bodies throughout the world, on all seven continents. Their core message is this: Never ignore elder abuse.
Throughout the world, abuse and neglect of older persons is largely under-recognized. It is an unspoken problem. Unfortunately, no community or country in the world is immune from this costly public health and human rights crisis.
Elder Abuse Facts
According to the World Health Organization, the elderly are especially at risk of abuse in institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, and other long- term care facilities. In a survey in the United States, for example, 36% of nursing home staff reported having witnessed at least one incident of physical abuse of an elderly patient in the previous year, 10% admitted having committed at least one act of physical abuse themselves, and 40% said that they had psychologically abused patients.
Abusive acts include physically restraining patients, depriving them of dignity and choice over daily affairs, and providing insufficient care (for example, allowing them to develop pressure sores).
Signs and symptoms of abuse include:
- delays between injuries or illness and seeking medical attention;
- implausible or vague explanations for injuries or ill-health, from either patient or caregiver;
- differing injury accounts or case histories from patient and caregiver;
- frequent visits to emergency departments because a chronic condition has worsened, despite a care plan;
- laboratory findings that are inconsistent with reported treatment.
The HensonFuerst nursing home abuse team has seen first-hand the abuses that can be heaped on the elderly. Just a few months ago, six residents of the Britthaven of Chapel Hill nursing home were given overdoses of morphine, and one resident died. They were all in the Alzheimer’s unit, which means that they were helpless to know what was going on… helpless to fight back.
Stories like that are what keep HensonFuerst fighting against elder abuse every day of the year.
HensonFuerst Attorneys Researching Britthaven Nursing Home Abuse
June 9th, 2010
Attorney Carma Henson, partner with North Carolina-based HensonFuerst law firm, told reporters today that the HensonFuerst nursing home abuse team is conducting its own investigation into the the morphine overdose of nine Alzheimer’s patients being treated at Britthaven of Chapel Hill nursing home.
In February, six patients were admitted to the hospital after they tested positive for morphine, even though the pain killer hadn’t been prescribed. One of the patients, 84-year-old Rachel Holliday, died. At the time of her death, she also had high levels of morphine in her blood. On Monday, registered nurse Angela Almore was arrested and indicted on one count of second-degree murder and six counts of felony patient abuse. In a report from WRAL, Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said that the state believes Almore acted alone, and that he doesn’t expect any more arrests or charges in the case.
In a news report on WRAL-TV today, Carma Henson said that HensonFuerst is continuing its investigation on behalf of families concerned about how this type of abuse could have happened to their loved ones. The firm is not limiting its research to Almore’s actions; there is also the question of how drugs are administered throughout the facility. According to Carma Henson, a nurse is not supposed to be able to get access to morphine and administer it to patients if it has not been prescribed for those patients.
“This can’t be just a rogue nurse gone bad,” says Ms. Henson. Her hope is that the HensonFuerst investigation gets a look at the bigger picture of how this and other nursing homes are run, so changes can be made to bring about some good. There are still a lot of people in nursing homes who need help… HensonFuerst is determined to make a difference.
(Watch the WRAL video and read their complete story here: HensonFuerst continues investigation.)
Murder Charge for Britthaven Nurse
June 7th, 2010
WRAL.com reports that registered nurse Angela Almore was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder for the death of an Alzheimer’s patient at Britthaven of Chapel Hill nursing home. Almore is also charged with six counts of felony patient abuse, and is being held in the Orange County jail under a $500,000 bond.
In February, nine Alzheimer’s patients tested positive for powerful opiate medicines, the kind used to control pain. Six of the patients were hospitalized, and one patient–Rachel Holliday–died. At the time of her death, Ms. Holliday had a blood morphine level of 50,000 ng/ml… even though she had not been prescribed morphine.
HensonFuerst is relieved to know that the investigation into patient abuse at this nursing home will continue, and that an arrest has been made. Our nursing home abuse lawyers are continuing their own investigation of this incident. There are many more questions to be answered….
To read the full WRAL story, click here: Murder Charge at Britthaven of Chapel Hill. And if you have questions about what you can do about suspected cases of nursing home abuse, contact our Nursing Home Abuse team–if you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
Britthaven of Chapel Hill Death Update: Excessive Morphine
May 7th, 2010
An article on the WRAL webite today reports that an excessive amount of morphine contributed to the death of a patient in the Alzheimer’s unit of Britthaven of Chapel Hill nursing home.
In February, patients were drug tested when managers expressed concern about the way the patients were acting. Of 25 Alzheimer’s patients, nine tested positive for opiates. (Morphine is a type of opiate.) Three of the patients were removed from the nursing home and hospitalized, and one of those patients–Rachel Holliday–died on February 16, 2010. On autopsy, the medical examiner found extremely high doses of morphine in Ms. Holliday’s system, even though she was not scheduled to receive that medication at all.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) is still analyzing evidence in the case; the medical examiner did not rule out homicide.
Everyone at HensonFuerst is outraged and heartsick at these findings, and our prayers go out to the family members affected. Britthaven of Chapel Hill has been providing substandard care for a long while, as evidenced by its Medicare rating: an overall 1 out of 5 stars. It is also a “Special Focus Facility,” which means that they have a history of persistent poor quality of care. Every patient deserves the best possible care, and Britthaven of Chapel Hill has not been keeping up with the implicit promise made by every special care facility: That they will take care of your loved one.
Obviously, there has been a serious disconnect somewhere along the way. Is the staff undertrained or incompetent? Do the corporate heads not care enough improve the facility?
HensonFuerst is also investigating cases involving Britthaven of Chapel Hill nursing home patients receiving opiates. If you are concerned about a loved one who resides in this or any other facility, please give us a call. We want to help.
You can reach our nursing home abuse team by calling 1-800-4-LAW-MED.
What Nursing Home Administrators Won’t Tell You
April 28th, 2010
The SmartMoney Magazine website published an eye-opening list of “10 Things Nursing Homes Won’t Tell You,” which was adapted from a book by Jonathan Dahl and the editors of SmartMoney. Everyone related to a nursing home resident should visit the site, read the list, print it, study it, and post it somewhere visible.
So I don’t give everything away, I’ll include 5 items here (with our own commentary).
- “We’re careless about the drugs we give out.” Some nursing homes have been cited for unnecessary drug use, use of antipsychotic medications among residents who are not psychotic, and overdosing residents so that they are easier to care for. We have seen this locally, when Britthaven of Chapel Hill nursing home was reported to be the subject of investigation when residents were given narcotic medications without a prescription, leading to the death of one patient.
- “If it’s not in the care plan, we’re not gonna do it.” The federal government requires a care plan for each resident, which outlines how the resident should be cared for. Even if something is on the care plan, nursing homes can neglect the promised duties… but if a particular aspect of care is not on the plan, forget about it. Don’t assume anything.
- “‘Neglect’ is our middle name.” When nursing home residents are neglected, they can suffer from dehydration, pressure sores, malnutrition, disease, and sometimes death.
- “We use physical restraints on your loved ones.” Restraints are allowed as a method of last resort to keep a loved one safe or protect others. But that doesn’t mean that use of restraints isn’t abused, and can lead to depression, agitation, bruising, and other physical problems.
- “Fines? Go ahead–give us your best shot.” When a nursing home doesn’t meet standards, it can be fined… but that doesn’t mean that the money will ever be collected. The facility can appeal the the citation and fine, or find other ways to avoid paying. Plus, corporations that own and operate nursing homes at the highest levels (because there are often shell companies that are the “face” of each facility) are usually so flush with cash that a little fine is barely noticed.
Want to read the rest of the list? Check out the original article here: SmartMoney Magazine.
HensonFuerst is an avid supporter of nursing home residents and their families. Our lawyers have been involved in some groundbreaking litigation that have made residents safer, and we continue to work for the benefit of the “little guy” against corporations who abuse and neglect senior citizens. If you think your loved one is being abused in a nursing home and you don’t know what to do, contact HensonFuerst. If you have questions, we have answers.
Know EVERY Medication Given in Nursing Home
March 16th, 2010
One of the many lessons of the still-developing story of Britthaven of Chapel Hill is that sick, elderly nursing home residents may be easy targets if the nursing staff wants to slip an extra pill or two into their patients’ medication allotment to ensure that the residents remain unresponsive and sleepy–a form of chemical restraint.
There is currently an investigation by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) about how patients in the Alzheimer’s unit of Britthaven of Chapel Hill wound up testing positive for strong opiate narcotic medications… drugs that had not been prescribed. Several of the nursing home residents were hospitalized, and one died. (Read more and see our videos about this case here: HensonFuerst Britthaven videos and stories.)
The state of Massachusetts has a similar problem. According to the Boston Globe, nearly 2,500 nursing home residents were given powerful antipsychotic drugs that were not intended or recommended for their medical conditions. Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that thousands of Massachusetts nursing home residents were given these psychotropic medications that–and here’s the similarity with Britthaven–could act as chemical restraints and had not been prescribed.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice filed lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson for paying kickbacks to Omnicare Inc., the nation’s largest pharmacy that specializes in dispensing drugs to nursing home patients. How did they learn about it? Good-hearted whistleblowers stood up and spoke for the helpless–and drugged–patients. (Read more here: DoJ press release)
It’s all starting to sound like the plot for a movie: Kickbacks… chemical restraints… helpless patients… narcotics… lawsuits… whistleblowers.
It’s not a movie, it is the reality of our parents and grandparents, the people we love who can no longer care for themselves. We commend the whistleblowers, and anyone else who sticks up for nursing home residents. In our eyes, they are heros. The lesson for the rest of us is to monitor medications of our loved ones. If your family member is in a nursing home:
- Question every medication. Ask what it is, which doctor prescribed it, and what it is supposed to treat.
- Know the schedule. For each medications prescribed, know what the pill or capsule is supposed to look like, what dosage is prescribed, and how often the medication is to be taken. If it helps you to remember, take photographs of the pills–not all round, white pills are the same.
- Question changes. Don’t assume that a doctor authorized a change…if anything changes and you have not been informed, ask. Watch especially if the medication differs from day to day.
- Watch for side effects and changes in behavior. Is your loved one sleeping more than usual? Eating less? Acting “out of it” in ways that are unusual? It is common to assume that all changes are related to a disease… sometimes it is a side effect of medication.
- If you don’t get satisfactory answers, ask someone else. If your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911. And if you believe that your loved one is being abused, call a lawyer who can help you figure out what is going on.
Investigations into Britthaven of Chapel Hill Abuses
March 12th, 2010
It was horrifying to families that had already lived through the tragedy of having a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As reported in the media, 9 residents of the Britthaven of Chapel Hill nursing home tested positive for strong pain medication–opiates–that hadn’t been prescribed to them…one later died.
Now, ENCtoday.com reports that the incident and the facility are under the microscope from the NC State Bureau of Investigation and the Medicaid Investigations Unit of the Attorney General’s office. One new twist: the Kinston-based Britthaven “also has come under scrutiny for its financial contributions to political campaigns in recent years, thanks in large part to the efforts of Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina.” (ENCtoday.com)
According to WRAL, Britthaven employees and Britthaven’s parent company, Hillco, gave more than $175,000 to state political candidates during the 2004 and 2008 elections. The donations went to Republican and Democratic candidates equally.
Impressive. But that kind of political spending won’t buy Britthaven a way out of this investigation…and it certain doesn’t give peace of mind to families of current residents.
To learn more about nursing home abuse, and what to do about it, visit our website at www.lawmed.com.
More on the Britthaven Nightmare
March 3rd, 2010
Today’s The Daily Tar Heel has a terrific editorial about the heartbreaking saga of abuse at Britthaven of Chapel Hill nursing home. At HensonFuerst, we would like to commend and echo the conclusion:
“Britthaven itself needs to seriously evaluate its commitment to those it serves. Real and fragile lives are at stake.”
Click here to read the full editorial.
Britthaven Makes the News…Again
March 3rd, 2010
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, another Britthaven nursing home facility is in trouble, this time for the death of a resident by abuse and neglect.
A former nursing assistant at Britthaven Nursing Home in Pineville, Kentucky, left a partially paralyzed man unattended and without support. The man fell and later died of complications from the injury. The nursing assistant has been jailed and is being held on $500,000 cash bond.
The comment from Britthaven officials? The same thing we’ve heard from them before: Nothing.
What does that tell us about how much Britthaven officials care? Everything.
For more information about nursing home law, see our dedicated web page.