February 18, 2013

Nursing homes draw lawsuits


A FRAIL SYSTEM

About this series:

Families’ abilities to hold potentially negligent nursing facilities accountable have been diminished by a recent change in state law that bars records of abuse and neglect from use in the courts, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has found. The Center’s investigation also shows that some long-term care facilities are failing to report deaths and injuries, as required by law.

This project, A Frail System, explores those issues and offers families help in identifying which of the state’s nursing homes have been sued or cited for major problems.

Since 1986, at least 297 personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuits have been filed against Wisconsin nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

The Center commissioned Court Data Technologies, a Madison company that specializes in researching Wisconsin’s publicly available court records, to find civil cases that met defined parameters. The Center then analyzed the data.

Among the findings:

  • The largest number of cases, 16, were filed against Mount Carmel Health and Rehabilitation Center, now named Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation-Milwaukee. Woodland Health Care Center, now named Brookfield Rehabilitation and Specialty Care, ranked second; it was sued 11 times.
  • At least 167 of the cases (56 percent) were settled before trial. Other cases were dismissed, with no indication of whether a settlement was reached. Only seven cases are listed as going to trial.
    Of the cases that went to trial, the largest judgment awarded was $1.5 million.
  • Of the cases that settled for a known amount, the largest was $2.75 million. That concerned a resident at Lakeside Nursing and Rehabilitation in Chippewa Falls who sustained numerous life-threatening bedsores and lost 30 percent of his body weight, according to his attorney.