Overdose deaths related to opioid abuse have increased dramatically over the past 15 years. Between 2000 and 2014, almost half a million people died from drug overdoses. Now, overdose deaths have even extended to nursing homes. An Illinois nursing home was recently fined more than $100,000 after five residents overdosed on heroin in a single month.
In February of this year, five residents of a Chicago nursing home overdosed on heroin. The five residents of the North Side's Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center were all hospitalized for drug overdoses within weeks of each other. All five residents survived, and eventually returned to the nursing facility. The nursing home was supposed to maintain close watch of the residents after they returned; however, within hours, two of the residents were using heroin again. One overdosed a second time.
In September, another resident was found on the floor next to his bed. There were five packets of a white powder beside him. A police report confirmed this was the sixth resident to have overdosed on drugs. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Department of Public Health only learned of the overdoses after the news inquiry. Now, the public health department has opened an investigation into the center.
The nursing home facility has been fined more than $75,000 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Illinois Department of Health has imposed another $25,000 fine for failing to properly monitor residents, and failure to treat residents for drug addictions.
The facility suspected residents were seeking heroin from a female visitor but did not pass this information on to police at the time of the overdoses. According to Continental, which runs the nursing facility, they did not admit to any fault, and said they would no longer admit any residents with active substance abuse problems.
At a nursing home facility in Belleville, a nurse was arrested for making false reports requesting opioids for residents. Trisha Cleveland, at the Four Fountains Convalescent Center made multiple requests for residents who were prescribed “as needed” hydrocodone. Cleveland was arrested after an investigation found the residents had never requested the drugs, which Cleveland had actually requested for her personal use.
This summer, a resident at a LaPorte, Indiana nursing home facility overdosed on heroin. The 64-year-old resident was found on the floor of her room, bleeding from her nose. The resident told staff members she'd snorted heroin. He was taken to the hospital and later to a drug treatment facility. She said she had obtained from another resident. Prior to the heroin overdose, the resident had used prescription opioids, including oxycodone and percocet.
Nursing home abuse can take many forms. Abuse may involve physical abuse by nursing home staff, neglect, or overmedicating residents to keep them quiet. Family members in nursing homes may be reluctant to come forward out of fear of retaliation or further abuse.
If you suspect a family member in a nursing home has been injured or abused due to nursing home negligence, you should speak with an experienced attorney who understands Illinois nursing home negligence law. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients the justice they deserve and equal treatment under the law.