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San Antonio nursing home injury legal blog

3 types of abuse in nursing homes and signs to watch out for

When our loved ones are in the care of a nursing home or hospital facility, we expect that the doctors, nurses and other staff members will be compassionate, attentive and treat patients with dignity. Tragically, this does not always happen.

In fact, some reports estimate that abuse or neglect happens in roughly one-third of the nursing homes in this country. In order for this abuse to stop and for the perpetrators to be held accountable, family members and loved ones often need to speak up for the victims and take legal action on their behalf. In order to do this, they must be aware of the different types of abuse committed in these facilities and what signs there may be.

Medical Errors Cause 3rd Most Non-Violent Fatalities in the US

A new study published in BMJ medical journal has brought a new level of attention to the perils in the medical world. Johns Hopkins researchers found that medical errors are the third most frequent cause of non-violent death for Americans. The only two other cause of death that beat out medical errors were heart disease and cancer. The medical errors could be anything from a prescription for the wrong pill to a fatal mistake during an operation. Using data from Medicare, they estimate that over a quarter million Americans are killed in this way annually.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Makary, hoped this would bring light to the problem and result in greater care for patients. "I, like many doctors, have been aware that people die from fragmented care, diagnostic errors, preventable complications and the problem is serious," Makary told ABC News. "The concern I had was 'Why is this not a national funding priority...why does it receive a comparable fraction of the funding" for cancer or heart disease?'" He also believes these numbers are lower than reality because of challenges in diagnosing and labeling deaths. Often a person might die due to a failed CPR attempt and will be codified in that way to the CDC but in reality a liver laceration during a medical exam caused the injury that led to the death. The medical industry is the only one to have such a high amount of fatal mistakes but still we allow it to continue to error at unrivaled rates. Dr. David Classen, patient safety expert, points out "If you had this many deaths in aviation industry...you'd shut it down, it's amazing that in all these other industries we never tolerate this kind of death." He is optimistic this study will lead to funding as he is currently working to develop real time, online medical records to prevent reporting errors.
At the Janicek Law Firm we know firsthand just how impactful this problem is in society. We believe medical professionals do not always uphold their duties to their client and it can result in terrible consequences. This statistic is only fatalities, if you consider all medical errors, the damage to society is tremendous. We too hope this study leads to changes in the industry because Americans should be able to feel more confident in the people who are supposed to heal them.

Almost a Third of Rehab Patients Harmed

Even though most patients enter a rehab facility in an attempt to heal and return to their past level of health, 29% of them will instead have injured by the treatment they receive. As outlined in the article below, it is common for patients to be the victim of a medical error, bedsore, infection, or any other potential injury when being treated at a rehab facility. These are problems that are easily avoidable. "We're fooling ourselves if we say we have made improvement," Classen, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Utah School of Medicine says. "If the first rule of health care is 'Do no harm,' then we're failing." Please read the article linked below for all the details.
https://www.propublica.org/article/new-report-problem-care-harms-almost-one-third-of-rehab-hospital-patients

Local Fake Doctor Charges Clients Thousands of Dollars

In Boerne, Texas, a woman going by the name(s) Catherina Hunter or Katrinca Hunter stole the identity of a Chicago based doctor and pretended to be a highly qualified medical professional with multiple advanced degrees. For months she preyed on one of the most vulnerable segments of the sick, Stage IV cancer patients. Working out of her office at Hope of Life Alternative Treatment Center, she charged her clients thousands of dollars for daily visits, almost six times the rate similar treatments cost in places where they are common like California. She promised a 97% success rate by treating them in unorthodox methods like full body, direct Ozone treatments (Ozone is known to be harmful to humans) and other unusual ways. This method is called naturology, in which doctors believes natural products/treatment will result in better health. Her clients were so hopeful for a new chance at survival (because chemo therapy is not very effective against Stage IV cancers) that they were willing to pay $15,000+ out of pocket or more.
Since the warrant for her arrest was issued, she has been apprehended and released on bond. She claims she was not acting maliciously and was doing the right thing. She is now cooperating with the investigation which could result in charges ranging from forgery to practicing with a license and possibly identity theft.
The Janicek Law Firm believes this is a terrible potential offense and we want to aid those effected. We have begun investigating the accusations against her and have already been retained to represent effected parties. If you would like a free consolation in reference to this matter, please contact us at (210)-366-4949.

Life Insurance Companies Aren't Paying Up

A "60 Minutes" exposé has found life insurance companies are not paying out millions of rightfully deserved policy benefits. Few people are aware of a group of settlements worth $7.25 billion involving 25 of the largest life insurance providers although it impacts a large portion of society. It was reached after the court found the companies failed to pay out to policy holders who were entitled to benefits. These 25 companies, and an additional 35 that did not settle, were systematically depriving their customers of their benefits in a seemingly harmless but truly damaging way. In most of the cases, the policy holder's family was unaware that they were entitled to receive the benefits after the loved one passed. This is much more common than people think and thus they did not make a claim, resulting in no compensation. The companies claim their policy is to only distribute compensation if a claim is made by the family member. So the companies are aware that their holder has died (often when they receive the death certificate) but choose to ignore it until someone files a claim in their name. This practice has been taking place all over the country for decades resulting in millions of people being negatively effects and the greedy companies keeping billions of dollars for themselves. The companies involved are the large, popular companies like John Hancock, MetLife, and Prudential. The lobbyists for the companies claim the responsibility is on the holder to make a claim because they signed a contract stating they must make a claim to receive benefits. These clauses in the contract don't always hold up for the companies in court and some states, like Florida, have statues saying the company is required to investigate the situation if they believe their client has died. There are thousands of stories of the company receiving the death certificate and not acting on it. These companies follow state regulations (not federal) and largely run unchecked in their practices. With their large bank accounts, they are able to disproportionately influence how public policy effects them and as a result the consumer is often taken advantage of.
We would like to see the companies have to follow tighter regulations and be monitored more closely in an attempt to protect the public. Usually, our clients have very little leverage in negotiation with these monster companies and are thus treated unfairly. These corporations are often in the business of making themselves money, not helping their clients. Or as one of my professor's stated, "Insurance companies are in the business of collecting premiums, not paying benefits".

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