Federal and state laws require that nursing homes maintain or attain the highest practicable mental, physical, and psychosocial well-being for their patients.  These laws provide that nursing homes must ensure that their patients’ nutrition and hydration needs are met, as proper nutrition and hydration are two critical components for nursing home residents to maintain their overall health and well-being inside the facility.

The elderly are particularly at risk for both malnutrition and dehydration.  Due to decreased body reserves and other diminished capacities, the elderly are much more susceptible to malnourishment than younger adults. Moreover, many aging patients have dental problems or experience loss of appetite caused by health problems or medications. Thus, they need to be monitored by nursing home staff carefully for any signs of malnutrition. Often times this is not done.

Another reason patients become malnourished while residing in nursing homes is that many cannot feed themselves without assistance, and are not properly fed by nursing home staff. Each year thousands of nursing homes across the country receive citations for inappropriate feeding tube insertions or improper feeding methods.

Recognizing the symptoms of malnutrition and dehydration in your loved ones can often times be very difficult. However, it is extremely important to recognize these signs and symptoms as dehydration and malnutrition can lead to very serious health complications and skin breakdown. The following are signs that you should monitor closely, as these may indicate serious malnutrition or dehydration problems in a nursing home patient:

  • Easily bruising
  • Diminished energy
  • Lowered mental sharpness
  • Hair loss
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Wounds that heal poorly
  • Dental issues
  • Inflamed and red eyes
  • Yellow skin
  • Chills
  • Dry mouth or skin
  • Flushing skin –

If you see any of the above signs, you should make your concerns known to the nursing home staff immediately.  Nursing home residents should not be allowed to become malnourished. Even residents who refuse to eat because of depression or other health problems can be provided nutritional supplements.  Often times, a malnourished nursing home resident is a victim of neglect.

If you believe a loved one has suffered serious injuries as result of malnutrition or dehydration while a resident of a nursing home, contact the experienced Nursing Home Attorneys at The Suthers Law Firm. The Suthers Law Firm, which practices throughout the States of Georgia and South Carolina, regularly represents victims who have been abused or neglected and their families in cases against nursing homes and assisted living facilities. For more information on nursing home abuse and neglect, see the page entitled “Nursing Home Resource Center” at the website of the Suthers Law Firm, www.sutherslaw.com.

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is one of the primary ingredients in products like Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower body powder.  Manufacturers of products containing talc have promoted these products for decades, claiming that talcum powder eliminates friction, is gentle on the skin, and provides a fresh scent.  They created ads with smiling, bare-bottomed babies, promoting the use of baby powder to reduce diaper rash, and other ads, promoting the use of talcum powder by women as a personal hygiene product.  However, a large number of studies published in scientific and medical journals concluded that the use of talcum powder in the genital area increases a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.  This alarming information has been known by the manufacturers of products for many years, but the manufacturers chose not to put warnings on their products or in their ads.

Talc is a mineral that shares some similarities with asbestos, another mineral that causes deadly cancers.  Just as asbestos fibers were found in the lungs of workers who breathed them, talc particles have been found in the ovaries of women who used baby powder containing talc in the vaginal area and developed ovarian cancer.  When baby powder containing talc is applied to the genital area, talc particles can move up the vagina, into the fallopian tubes, and into the ovaries, where the talc particles can remain for decades.  Scientific studies have shown that talc causes inflammation in healthy tissue.  This inflammation may, in turn, contribute to the development of cancer.

Dr. Daniel Cramer is a gynecologic oncologist and Harvard Medical School professor.  In 1982, Dr. Cramer published the first study that linked talcum powder use in a woman’s genital area with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.  In a recent interview, Dr. Cramer said “I have always advised gynecologists that if they examine a woman and see that she is using talc in the vaginal area, tell her to stop.”  The association between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer was the subject of numerous epidemiological studies published throughout the 1980s and 1990s, which reinforced Dr. Cramer’s findings.  As early as 1992, manufacturers were urged to put warning labels on talcum powder products because of this serious health threat to women.

In 2003, scientists analyzed 16 of the studies that had been done linking baby powder containing talc to ovarian cancer.  They found that women using baby powder containing talc were 33% more likely to develop ovarian cancer.  Dr. Margaret Gates, a Harvard epidemiologist, and other scientists published a study in 2010 entitled “Perineal Use of Talcum Powder and Endometrial Cancer Risk.”  They found that perineal talcum powder use increased the risk of endometrial cancer, especially among post-menopausal women.  More recently, a 2013 Cancer Prevention Research article analyzed 8,525 cases of ovarian cancer.  That study concluded that genital talcum powder use was associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer relative to women who had never used talcum powder.

Lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson on behalf of women who developed ovarian cancer after long-term, frequent use of baby powder containing talc.  These lawsuits allege that Johnson & Johnson promoted its Baby Powder as being “safe, gentle and mild,” despite knowing for decades that its product posed an increased risk of ovarian cancer among women who used it on their genital area.

If you, a loved one, or someone you know has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after frequent use of baby powder containing talc, you may be entitled to compensation.  Contact the defective product attorneys at Suthers Law Firm, www.sutherslaw.com, or call toll free 1-800-320-2384 for a free consultation.  

Medical device manufacturer, C.R. Bard, Inc., is back in the news and back in Federal Court.  On August 18, 2015, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) announced that the lawsuits pending currently against C.R. Bard, Inc. and Bard Peripheral Vascular involving the IVC filter will be consolidated and transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.  More than 200 pending cases will be transferred immediately, and it is believed that many more will follow.

An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a small medical device that is surgically implanted inside the body to capture blood clots before they migrate to other areas of the body, causing serious conditions such as a pulmonary embolism or stroke.  However, a number of studies have shown that pieces can break away from the filter and migrate to other areas of the body, causing serious injuries and deaths.  The New England Society for Vascular Surgery conducted a study, which concluded that the IVC filters fractured in 31% of the cases.  These shards or splinters often migrated to the patients’ right ventricles of the heart.  Another study found that in 25% of the patients studied, there were splinters that broke off, many of which migrated to the heart, lungs and the hepatic vein.

Before introducing these filters on the medical market, Bard knew that IVC filters were associated with serious side effects.  However, this information was not conveyed to doctors.  Bard knew the filters were prone to fracture, which could lead to perforations of the vena cava, surrounding vessels and organs, necessitating serious and life-threatening open surgical procedures.  On July 13, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cited Bard for failing to report adverse events associated with the IVC filters and for illegally selling a device that was designed to retrieve the filters.  It is believed that Bard has sold more than 500,000 IVC filters.  With failure rates approaching 40% after five years of implantation, there are far too many patients with IVC filters who are at risk.

Problems associated with IVC filters include migration, fracture, perforation of vessels and organs, pulmonary embolism (PE), decreased breathing, stroke and death.  Suthers Law Firm is investigating these and other problems associated with Bard IVC filters.  If you or someone you know suffered serious injuries or died as a result of complications from an IVC filter, contact Suthers Law Firm on its toll free number, 1-800-320-2384, or fill out a contact form at the firm’s website, www.sutherslaw.com.

A great injustice is taking place in this country:  the use of pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in nursing home admissions contracts by the nursing home industry.  These clauses provide that victims of abuse and neglect in nursing homes give up their right to a jury trial. This directly undermines the spirit and intent of the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987:  to improve the quality of care and clinical outcomes for our most vulnerable citizens.

Elderly nursing home residents and their spouses are being pressured or mislead into signing arbitration clauses, frequently when they lack the mental capacity, authority or true willingness to do so.  If arbitration was a level playing field and fair to both sides without any negative repercussions to the resident or family, does anyone really believe that the nursing home industry would feel the need to so aggressively enforce them and seek to bury these provisions within 50 pages of admissions materials?

Arbitration provisions lead to protracted litigation, not faster results or less expensive resolution of cases.  The nursing home industry uses them to stall cases, take appeals and delay justice.  An elderly surviving spouse may not live long enough to see justice when nursing home corporations take this approach.

In my experience as an attorney who has represented victims of abuse and neglect in nursing homes, arbitration provisions lead to the provision of poor care.  Residents who have not signed arbitration provisions typically receive better care because the facility has a greater incentive to meet their needs.  Arbitration clauses insulate the nursing home industry from liability, and with that protection, nursing home corporations feel free to cut costs, reduce staffing and sacrifice the quality of care.

There is only one way that arbitration can be fair and truly voluntary:  that is to prohibit the use of pre-dispute binding arbitrations altogether.  In other words, if and when a dispute arises, the parties may thereafter choose to arbitrate the case if they so desire.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is presently considering changes to the Federal Regulations that govern the operation of nursing homes, including a proposal regarding arbitration. There is a 60 day comment period during which citizens can go to www.regulations.gov, and let the government know that arbitration should be prohibited in nursing homes. CMS, in seeking to protect our elders and promote the quality of care in nursing homes, should ban pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses. It is the fair and equitable thing to do.

Invokana is part of a new class of type 2 diabetes drugs known as sodium-glucose-cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors.   SGLT2 inhibitors are designed to control diabetes by blocking reabsorption of glucose by the kidneys, impacting normal kidney function and allowing more sugar to be passed from the body through urine.   However, the FDA has recently issued a new warning for a number of SGLT2 inhibitors, including Invokana (canagliflozin). The agency has stated that these diabetes therapies can cause high levels of acid to build up in the blood, causing diabetic ketoacidosis, which can lead to diabetic coma or death.

In the FDA’s announcement, the agency warned patients using SGLT2 inhibitors that they should seek immediate medical attention if they experience any symptoms of ketoacidosis, including:

  • Unusual fatigue or sleepiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain

The Suthers Law Firm is currently investigating claims on behalf of individuals who used Invokana or other SGLT2 inhibitors and suffered serious medical complications. Other SGLT2 inhibitors that have been associated with health complications include Glyxambi (empagliflozin/linagliptin), Farxiga (dapagliflozin), Xigduo XR (dapagliflozin/metformin), and Jardiance (empagliflozin).

If you or a loved one has experienced serious medical problems after using one of the products listed above, contact the experienced attorneys at the Suthers Law Firm. The firm has represented many victims injured by dangerous drugs and defective medical products. Such lawsuits are pursued under a contingency fee basis, meaning that there are no attorney fees unless a recovery is obtained. To discuss a potential lawsuit for yourself, a family member or friend, call 1-800-320-2384 or go to www.sutherslaw.com for a FREE consultation.

The Suthers Law Firm is continuing to investigate potential claims on behalf of individuals who purchased laminate wood flooring from Lumber Liquidators.  Problems with the Lumber Liquidators’ flooring was first noted on CBS’ 60 Minutes.  Reporters went undercover to factories in China that produce laminate flooring for Lumber Liquidators that the company says is “CARB 2″ compliant, meaning it complies with California standards (and soon to be federal standards).  However, managers in these Chinese facilities acknowledged that inventory being produced for Lumber Liquidators was being labeled “CARB 2″ compliant, even though everyone in the facility was aware of the fact it was not.  Independent tests performed by CBS News indicated the flooring failed to meet health and safety standards due to the high levels of formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is a colorless and flammable chemical, and is a common ingredient in the glue used in laminate flooring.  During and after installation, it is released as a gas that causes burning eyes, nose and throat irritation, coughing, headaches, dizziness, joint pain and nausea.  At long-term exposure, formaldehyde is listed as a known cause of cancer in humans by both the federal government and the State of California.

The following models of Lumber Liquidators lumber may contain excessive and illegal amounts of formaldehyde:

  • 8 mm Bristol County Cherry Laminate Flooring
  • 8 mm Dream Home Nirvana French Oak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Antique Bamboo Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Oceanside Plank Bamboo Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Warm Springs Chestnut Laminate Flooring
  • 15 mm Dream Home St. James Sky Lakes Pine Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Chimney Tops Smoked Oak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Imperial Teak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Vintner’s Reserve Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Cape Doctor Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Cumberland Mountain Oak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Americas Mission Olive Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Glacier Peak Poplar Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Golden Teak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Handscraped Imperial Teak Laminate Flooring (SKU 10029601)
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Handscraped Summer Retreat Teak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Sandy Hills Hickory Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Tanzanian Wenge Laminate Flooring
  • 8 mm Dream Home Nirvana Royal Mahogany Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Blacksburg Barn Board Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Brazilian Koa Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Golden Acacia Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Poplar Forest Oak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Fumed African Ironwood Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James African Mahogany Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Chimney Rock Charcoal Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Nantucket Beech Laminate Flooring

Other types of Chinese-made laminate sold at Lumber Liquidators may also be affected.

If you have purchased a laminate wood flooring product listed above, or any other laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators, and are concerned about formaldehyde levels in your home, you may be eligible to participate in a lawsuit. Contact the experienced attorneys at Suthers Law Firm online or call us on our toll free number, 1-800-320-2384, to set up a FREE consultation.

Xarelto bottle

Xarelto (rivaroxaban) is a prescription blood thinner that was developed by pharmaceutical giant Bayer, and marketed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of another pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson.  Xarelto is typically prescribed to reduce the risks of suffering a stroke or blood clot in patients who have a heart rhythm disorder known as atrial fibrillation or A-fib.  For example, Xarelto is commonly given to patients with atrial fibrillation who have undergone hip replacement or knee replacement surgery to prevent blood clots from forming after the surgery.  The drug’s manufacturer is attempting to expand the use of Xarelto for patients with another heart condition known as acute coronary syndrome.

There have been multiple reports of Xarelto causing excessive bleeding in patients.  This can result in severe and permanent injuries, or death, if the bleeding is uncontrolled.  As a result, multiple lawsuits have been filed across the U.S. against the manufacturer of Xarelto and the marketer of the drug, alleging these companies failed to warn both patients and physicians of the increased risks of fatal internal bleeding when using Xarelto.  Because of the number of lawsuits filed in federal courts across the U.S., in December 2014, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) created a Xarelto MDL and consolidated all of the cases in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  The Xarelto litigation is in the beginning stages.

Interestingly, litigation against the manufacturer of a similar drug, Pradaxa, was settled in May 2014 for $650 million.  The Institute for Safe Medication Practices issued a report in 2013, stating that more patients had suffered serious, disabling or fatal injuries from taking Xarelto than those who took Pradaxa.  It should come as no surprise that Bayer and Janssen Pharmaceuticals are fighting the litigation, since annual sales of Xarelto in the U.S. were expected to exceed $1 billion for 2014.  The companies believe that the drugs sales could eventually reach $3.5 billion a year.

Suthers Law Firm is investigating claims involving individuals who took Xarelto and suffered from one or more of the following, serious conditions: pulmonary embolism (PE), severe, uncontrolled bleeding that required hospitalization, stroke or death.  Individuals who have suffered after taking Xarelto should not wait to hire an attorney.  Every state has what are known as statutes of limitations, which are laws that specify the time within which an injury claim must be filed, or it will be barred by law.  If you or a loved one has suffered one of the serious injuries listed above after taking Xarelto, you should not delay in consulting with an attorney who is experienced in handling defective medical product cases.

The tragic deaths of five young women on Interstate 16 recently is a stark reminder of the dangers that tractor-trailers pose to all drivers on Georgia highways.  Five Georgia Southern University nursing students, riding in two cars, died when a tractor-trailer failed to stop for traffic slowed by a prior accident on I-16 in Bryan County during the early morning hours of April 22, 2015.  Two other students were injured.  The GSU students were on their way to their last day of clinical rotations at a Savannah hospital. Sadly, this tragedy might have been avoided with the use of “crash avoidance” technology on tractor-trailers.  Forward collision avoidance and mitigation technology is already fully-developed and comes as a standard feature on many new automobiles.  This life-saving technology works by taking over the brakes and engine of the tractor-trailer when an imminent collision is anticipated and alerting the driver to the danger.  Many systems brake the vehicle autonomously if the driver does not respond.  An auto brake system may not always be able to prevent a crash, but it can reduce the vehicle speed, mitigating the severity of the crash and injuries caused thereby.

Not only is forward crash avoidance technology available, studies have shown that it can prevent collisions and fatalities.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the U.S. government agency whose mission is to achieve “the highest standards of excellence in motor vehicle and highway safety.”  NHTSA is well aware of the existence and effectiveness of forward collision avoidance technology.   It estimates that current forward collision avoidance technology could prevent over 2,500 crashes each year and future generation systems could prevent over 6,300 crashes annually.  In Australia, that country’s equivalent of our Department of Transportation investigated forward collision avoidance technology.  A detailed study of Australian crashes found that the use of such technology would have resulted in a 20-40% reduction in the number and severity of fatal crashes and a 30-50% reduction of injuries.   In light of such evidence, one must question why NHTSA has failed to move forward and require that this basic crash avoidance technology be installed on all tractor-trailers.  Estimates of the cost to retrofit current tractor-trailers to meet this standard are in the range of $500 per truck.  This cost pales in comparison to the costs and consequences of lost lives and severe injuries resulting from tractor-trailer collisions.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are nearly 100,000 injuries and 4,000 deaths annually on U.S. highways as a result of tractor-trailer collisions.  In 2013, 97% of those killed in two-vehicle crashes involving a large truck and a smaller passenger vehicle were the occupants of the smaller automobile.  Georgia is currently among the top five states in the U.S. in truck-related fatalities.  Steve Owings is the President and Co-Founder of Road Safe America.  Mr. Owings lost his son, Cullum, when the car Cullum was driving was barreled into from behind, in stopped traffic, by a tractor-trailer.  Road Safe America, joined by the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and other highway safety groups, is calling on Congress and NHTSA to require forward collision avoidance technology on all current and future tractor-trailers.  Last week’s heartbreaking wreck is another example of the tragedy that can occur when a truck driver is distracted or otherwise not alert.  It is time that the trucking industry implemented the technology that is already available to take over and avoid a collision when a fatigued and distracted truck driver does not do so manually.  Savannah native Abbie Deloach, Emily Clark, Morgan Bass, Catherine McKay Pittman, and Kaitlyn Baggett were, by all accounts, outstanding young women with promising careers and lives ahead of them.  Let’s honor their memories by demanding that Congress and NHTSA immediately require the installation and use of forward collision avoidance technology on all tractor-trailers.

Lumber Liquidators is one of largest retailers of both wood and laminate flooring in North America.  In fact, there is more than 100 million square feet of the company’s laminate flooring alone sold and installed in American homes every year.  In a startling recent report on CBS’ “60 Minutes”, the news show claims Lumber Liquidators has been selling laminate flooring that contains levels of formaldehyde in excess of regulatory standards.

The flooring at issue is Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring made in China.  (American-made laminates sold at Lumber Liquidators had acceptable levels of the formaldehyde.) Independent test performed by CBS News indicated the flooring failed to meet health and safety standards due to the high levels of formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is a colorless and flammable chemical, and is a common ingredient in the glue used in laminate flooring. During and after installation, it is released as a gas that causes burning eyes, nose and throat irritation, coughing, headaches, dizziness, joint pain and nausea. At long-term exposure, formaldehyde is listed as a known cause of cancer in humans by both the federal government and the State of California.

On the program, Dr. Philip Landrigan, a physician at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, said that long-term exposure to formaldehyde from the Lumber Liquidators flooring increases the risk for chronic respiratory irritation, reduced lung function and asthma. Dr. Bernard Goldstein, a physician, toxicologist and former dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health stated that this is especially true in children. “For flooring I’d be more concerned about acute health effects, particularly for infants crawling over the floor.  Children breathe in more air relative to their small body sizes than do adults. When they work hard, as they do when they crawl or run, they will have maximal respiratory uptake of anything gassing off the floor. Pets too,” he added.

“For its report “60 Minutes” reporters went undercover to factories in China that produce laminate flooring for Lumber Liquidators that the company says is “CARB 2” compliant, meaning it complies with California standards (and soon to be federal standards). Managers in these Chinese facilities acknowledged that inventory being produced for Lumber Liquidators was being labeled “CARB 2” compliant, even though everyone in the facility was aware of the fact it was not.

According to the non-profit organization Global Community Monitor (“GCM”), the Lumber Liquidators flooring from Chinese factories emit toxic gas in excess of 100 times the regulatory standards.  “The levels of formaldehyde our tests found in Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring are astounding and alarming,” said Denny Larson, executive director of GCM. “It’s unconscionable that Lumber Liquidators would sell this product to customers to install in their homes without informing families of the potential health risks involved, especially since they make a point of bragging about how environmentally safe it is.”

Some homeowners who bought the Chinese laminate from Lumber Liquidators have already taken action.  The first class action lawsuit, in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, alleges that “Lumber Liquidators manufactures, sells, and distributes Chinese Flooring that emits and off-gasses excessive levels of formaldehyde.” The plaintiffs charge the flooring company with violating the Lacey Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act as well as with unjust enrichment, breach of warranties, and violating business laws. “Unfortunately, one of the primary reasons Lumber Liquidators has grown so quickly and its profits have surged has been through the company’s misrepresentations about formaldehyde levels of its products and through its sourcing of cheap (and illegal) lumber from China,” the plaintiffs claim.

If you have experienced a problem with laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators we would welcome a chance to speak with you. Contact the experienced attorneys at Suthers Law Firm online or call us on our toll free number, 1-800-320-2384, to set up a FREE consultation.

Almost one-third of the nursing homes in the United States will be getting lower scores on the Government’s Quality Scale as a result of tougher standards being utilized for rating purposes. The Government’s Nursing Home Compare website is a five-star quality ratings program used by more than one million consumers to assess the quality of care being provided at nursing homes across the United States. Lawyers, like John Suthers, who have been representing victims of abuse and neglect in nursing homes for years, have urged the Government to implement changes in the way nursing homes are evaluated. Some of the changes being implemented include measures of the nursing homes’ use of any psychotic drugs. Such drugs can place older adults, especially those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, at an increased risk for suffering injuries. The new evaluation measures being implemented also involve a more refined method to evaluate a nursing home for adequate staffing, which is one of the most important factors in providing good, quality care.

In excess of one million people used the Nursing Home Compare website in 2014 to check on a nursing home’s ratings. Some nursing homes who receive good scores use that information in touting their facilities. The five-star rating system is not an exact science, and there is no substitute for going to the facility, observing the conditions there, and asking the right questions of management. For more information about questions to ask, go to the Nursing Home Resource Center page at the Suthers Law Firm website, www.sutherslaw.com. The new rating system, at least, raises the bar in order for nursing homes to receive a higher rating. Those of us who have been suing nursing homes for neglecting residents have been concerned for a long time that the ratings were over-inflated, so we applaud the implementation of stronger measures.

There were several findings resulting from implementing the new rating standards. The average overall rating for all U.S. nursing homes decreased from 3.4 stars to 3.1 stars. The biggest drop in specific areas of performance came in the category for quality of care, where the average score dropped from 4.1 stars to 3.3 stars. Alarmingly, almost 20% of nursing homes received the lowest possible score on the newly implemented measure for using anti-psychotic drugs. The new rating system penalized nursing homes who used such drugs on residents unless the drugs were indicated for specific conditions, such as schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, or Tourette’s syndrome. There are other quality measures that consumers should review, including the prevalence of pressure sore development and the number of falls resulting in injuries, as these remain the most common problems we see in nursing home residents.

If you would like to know the rating for a local nursing home, go to http://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html. If you have a friend or loved one whom you believe has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, contact the attorneys at Suthers Law Firm, www.sutherslaw.com.