October 22, 2017
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The family of an Indiana man who died after being admitted to a Kokomo nursing home has filed a “proposed complaint” with the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI) alleging nursing home neglect and wrongful death. The complaint was filed against the owners and operators of the Aperion Care Kokomo facility after the man was not given a necessary blood test and allowed to fall and suffer a “traumatic head injury” while he was under the care of the nursing home staff during March of 2015.

The complaint alleges that the nursing home knew the patient was at risk for falling at the time of admission, and was required to implement proper fall precautions but failed to do so. In addition,  the nursing home failed to conduct a laboratory test that had been ordered by the patient’s physician to monitor the patient’s blood thinner medication and failed to notify the patient’s physician that the lab test was never performed, according to the complaint.

Nursing Home Cited By Indiana State Department of Health

The complaint states that on March 13, 2015, a member of the nursing staff watched while the patient was “standing in the doorway… started to fall forward but twisted around and landed on his back, head bouncing off the floor…”  Only after the fall did the patient finally undergo blood tests that revealed critically abnormal PT/INR results of 127 and 10.5 respectively. According to the complaint, the patient suffered a brain bleed, and subsequently died.  The nursing home was cited by the Indiana State Department of Health investigators who found the facility provided deficient care according to the ISDH report.

For-Profit Nursing Home

According to the Medicare.gov Nursing Home Compare website, the Aperion Care Kokomo facility is a “for profit,” corporate-owned facility that has been rated “much below average” when it comes to overall rating, health inspection, and staffing. The facility is rated “below average” when it comes to “quality measures.”

Aperion Kokomo - medicare rating
The nursing home facility, which is located at 3518 S. Lafountain St., Kokomo, Indiana, is owned by Major Hospital (located in Shelbyville, Indiana) and is operated and managed by Aperion Care Kokomo, LLC, and others according to the Medicare.gov Nursing Home Compare website.

 

“Yet Another Example”

The family is represented by the Powless Law Firm, which is located in Indianapolis and represents victims of nursing home neglect and abuse. “Unfortunately, this tragic death is yet another example of how those responsible for the care in this nursing home have failed time and again to adequately protect its patients from harm,” said Jeff Powless, an attorney for the family who filed the claim.

“Serious Systemic Failures”

According to the complaint, investigations conducted around the time period of the patient’s admission to the Aperion Care Kokomo facility by the Indiana State Department of Health revealed serious care failures indicative of negligent operation and management of the facility that were “were strongly indicative of serious systemic failures in the hiring, training, oversight, and management of the facility staff.” According to the complaint, an October 31, 2014 Statement of Deficiencies and Plan of Correction included citations for:

  • ●the failure to notify a patient’s physician of a significant change in condition or need to alter treatment;
  • ●the failure to hold, safeguard, manage and account for the personal funds of the resident deposited with the facility;
  • ●the failure to ensure monies in a resident’s trust fund account was conveyed within 30 days of a resident’s death and a final accounting of those funds to the probate jurisdiction administering the resident’s estate for multiple patients;
  • ●the failure to provide a surety bond which assured the security of all personal funds which were deposited with the facility and into the trust fund accounts of multiple patients;
  • ●the failure to ensure a resident’s concern and allegation in regard to lost or stolen property was immediately investigated and reported to police;
  • ●the failure to ensure thorough criminal history background checks of employees;,/li>
  • ●the failure to ensure staff were aware of the Elder Justice Act which requires the reporting of reasonable suspicion of a crime against a resident;
  • ●the failure to notify police of a patient’s report of a stolen 3 ¼ karat diamond engagement ring; the failure to properly investigate the theft of a patient’s diamond ring;
  • and,
  • ●the failure to ensure a resident with a tracheostomy received the necessary care (hospital staff found patient transferred from Aperion Care Kokomo to have a “visibly soiled” tracheostomy tube and dressing that was “very foul smelling,” such that “you could smell the odor all the way out in the hallway”, among others.

According to the complaint, during the critical March 2016 time period, Aperion Care Kokomo was once again investigated by the ISDH related to the quality of care rendered by the facility and cited for numerous care violations. Citing an ISDH investigation record, the complaint alleges that:

  • ●On March 6, 2015 the facility was investigated and cited for failing to ensure that the resident environment remained as free of accident hazards as possible and failing to ensure each resident receives adequate supervision and assistance devices to prevent accidents. The Statement of Deficiencies and Plan of Correction confirmed that “the facility failed to maintain resident transfer equipment in a safe working condition …failed to properly utilize the Sara Lift 3000 transfer slings, according to manufacturer guidelines…” According to the complaint, the facility Maintenance Director told the ISDH investigator that “the medical equipment professional told him, the [administrator], and [director of nursing], the transfer slings were in bad condition and should not be used.”
  • ●On March 6, 2015 the facility was investigated and cited for failing to ensure it was free of medication errors of 5% or greater. In fact, the ISDH investigator found that the facility had a medication error rate of 53%, consisting on 17 errors out of 32 opportunities observed for error, affecting 11 of 16 residents observed. The findings included that certain medications were not even available at the facility, that the nursing staff was aware of delayed administrations, and that according to the nursing staff, “the very busy unit had only one nurse on the schedule, making time management difficult, at times.” The ISDH investigator also confirmed that “The DON was aware of the untimely administration of medications.”
  • ●On March 6, 2015 the facility was investigated and cited for failing to maintain availability of medications for 4 of 5 residents (80% failure rate) reviewed for missed medications.
  • ●On March 6, 2015 the facility was investigated and cited for failing to maintain clean transfer equipment and “failed to maintain a safe, clean environment for residents, staff, and the public.” The facility staff admitted during ISDH interviews that they were unaware of any equipment cleaning schedule. The floors on 100 hall, 200 hall, and 300 hall were “dirty and noted with build-up of dirt and debris.” The HFA admitted during an ISDH investigator interview that he was aware of the environmental cleanliness issues.

The proposed complaint filed in this matter with the Indiana Department of Insurance is a public record. Under Indiana’s medical malpractice laws, a “proposed complaint” must be filed with the Indiana Department of Insurance in certain cases before a civil suit can be filed in state court naming the defendant healthcare providers.

How You Can Help

Our investigation into this matter is still ongoing.  As part of our investigation, we are seeking former employees of the Aperion Care Kokomo who may have knowledge concerning this facility’s staffing levels, training issues or any other factors that may have contributed to unsafe patient conditions.  If you are a former employee or family of a patient of Aperion Care Kokomo with knowledge concerning any of these matters, please contact us confidentially by calling 877-769-5377.

The Powless Law Firm is an Indiana law firm that represents victims and families state-wide in serious cases involving nursing home neglect, medical negligence, personal injury and wrongful death. If you have concerns about nursing home neglect or abuse, please contact us at 877-769-5377. Together we can make a difference.

Other related articles of interest:

Why Bother Suing Bad Nursing Homes?

Complaint Against Indiana Nursing Home Alleges Neglect and Understaffing

The Problem of Pain Medication Theft in Nursing Homes

Wrongful Death Claim Filed Against Columbus Indiana Nursing Home

 

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