Vitas Healthcare Corporation of Illinois - Lombard
If you or a loved one has been abused or neglected by Vitas Healthcare Corporation of Illinois read about your rights below, and then contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC, for a free case evaluation.
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Who is Vitas Healthcare Corporation of Illinois?
Vitas Healthcare Corporation of Illinois is a hospice agency in the city of Lombard. They provide end-of-life care to eligible patients in their facilities and homes. End-of-life care includes a variety of different types of services and assistance, such as nurse aides and round-the-clock care. Vitas Healthcare Corporation of Illinois is located at 580 Waters Edge, Suite 100, Lombard, IL 60148 at telephone number 630-495-8484.
Vitas Healthcare Corporation of Illinois Address, Telephone Number, and Contact Information
Vitas Healthcare Corporation of Illinois
580 Waters Edge, Suite 100
Lombard, IL 60148
What is a Hospice Agency?
A hospice agency is a licensed organization that is regulated by the federal and state governments. These agencies provide care to patients that are terminally ill in order to provide them a manageable quality of life in their last few months, weeks, and days. They consist of a medical team of professionals, from physicians to counselors, whose goal should be to provide the patient with the most comfortable conditions while in such a vulnerable position. Some services that the agency offers include administering the patient’s necessary medications, providing them with their necessary equipment, and medically caring for them as needed.
How Do I Find the Best Agency?
When trusting a hospice agency to care for a loved one in their final days, you need to ensure that they will be safe and properly cared for by this agency. There should be many factors to consider so that you can come to an informed decision about the best option for them. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you select the hospice agency that is right for you, your loved one, and both of your needs:
- Make sure they are an accredited hospice agency. They are regulated by three accreditation organizations: The Accreditation Commission for Health Care, Inc. (ACHC), Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP), and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. If they are not accredited, there is no entity ensuring their compliance with safe and common standards and practices for a hospice agency.
- Make sure that they are periodically being surveyed by a regulatory agency, which is usually a state or federal agency. These surveys inquire about the shortcomings or problems that the hospice agency may have had in place. By checking that they are being regularly surveyed and asking about any issues that may have appeared in the last one, you are making sure that there is not any potential for malpractice or danger once your loved one is in care with them.
- Check if the hospice agency is Medicare-certified. A Medicare-certified agency will allow the costs to be covered by Medicare and follow Medicare’s regulations in caring for its patients.
- In general, you should ask about how you can pay for the agency’s services so that you can decide if their rates are within your budget and needs. Inquire about any out-of-pocket costs, what government assistance programs that they do and do not accept, and how they may work with you on a payment plan if you need one. Keep in mind that a higher cost for services may mean higher quality services. If they sound too good to be true, they very well may be.
- Make sure that the agency provides all necessary services for needs that are present and may arise. Inquire about what types of services they offer and what types of illnesses that they may usually deal with. This can give you an idea of how experienced they are with your loved one’s illness and how well they can handle it.
- Conduct your own thorough research on the agency itself. Check reviews from past patients to see how the agency handled various conditions and situations. Check their procedures for different types of emergencies. Additionally, it would help your understanding and comfort with the agency to check the clinical staff’s qualifications and credentials, the number of years that they have been operating, and how many health care providers may be assigned or available to serve each patient in their facility.
- Get a head start on finding an agency if you anticipate that you may require the agency’s services in the near future. Some hospice agencies have admissions processes that may take much longer than others, which is very disadvantageous when your loved one’s health is rapidly declining. Inquire about the time frame of the admissions process so that you know the soonest that your loved one can receive the care that they require.
Vitas Healthcare Corporation of Illinois Overview
Vitas Healthcare Corporation of Illinois is a hospice agency in the city of Lombard that has been Medicare-certified since 1988, meaning that Medicare can cover the costs of your care. They have served about 837 Medicare beneficiaries who were of the average age of 84 years old in the year 2016.
They provide palliative care, which is intended to improve the quality of life of patients suffering from a terminal illness or condition through pain relief and management. They also provide special care for those that are terminally ill and their families. They have a total of approximately 87 individuals on their clinical staff that specializes in different services, from counseling to registered nurses.
Signs of Abuse and Neglect
If you notice that your loved one exhibits any of the following, you should act immediately:
- Broken bones,
- Head injuries,
- Medication overdose,
- Dehydration or malnutrition,
- Poor hygiene,
- Soiled bedding,
- Rapid weight loss,
- Sudden agitation or emotional withdrawal,
- Frequent crying, or
- Complaints of poor treatment.
Illinois Hospice Agency Statistics
When a loved one is suffering from a terminal illness, it can be hard to accept and cope. But, they may require hospice care to spend their final days being comfortably treated to relieve any pain and symptoms as much as possible. Such a decision often must be made during a time of crisis. Illinois has approximately 4,300 facilities and hospice agencies in the United States that serve over 1 million patients per year. According to the Illinois Hospice & Palliative Care Organization, to be admitted to hospice care in Illinois, the patient must be certified by two physicians as having a terminal illness and a life expectancy of six months or less. These patients deserve the best treatment possible in their vulnerable position and final weeks, but elder abuse and neglect is far too common in these situations.
Who Pays For Hospice Agencies?
Hospice agencies take payment in a variety of ways that work with the family. There are many Medicare-certified agencies that cover the costs of care through the government program, Medicare Hospice Benefit. Veterans’ Administration benefits are another type of government program which covers the costs of care for veterans of the country. For low-income individuals, they may be able to utilize the government program Medicaid to cover some costs of care.
Hospice patients could also pay for their care through their own private insurance plans to avoid out-of-pocket payments. This may cover part or all of the costs associated with the care depending on the patient’s specific plan. Some hospice agencies may be able to work with you on your payment options and plan if you are struggling to finance your hospice care. For those individuals, you should make payment a primary consideration when choosing the right agency for you and your needs.
Hospice Profits Over Patients
Eldercare is a complex and delicate issue. We are dealing with one of the most vulnerable sections of the population and as some would argue, even more, vulnerable than children. With this vulnerability should come a knowledgeable and responsible health care professional team to tend to their needs and ensure their well-being. However, this is sadly not always the case.
Hospice agencies should operate under the mission of providing their patients with the highest quality of care possible in the last segment of their life. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and elder abuse is far too common in facilities treating vulnerable patients such as those that are terminally ill. Every year we hear countless instances of cases in which these patients have been mistreated or mishandled and resulted in further injury or even, in tragic cases, death.
Some hospice aides are paid hourly and consider their jobs to simply be a source of income rather than a matter of quality care, the latter of which is required along with compassion to be a sufficient hospice aide. As long as they are getting your business, some unprofessional hospice agencies may do the bare minimum or even lash out at their patients when working with them. As a result, these vulnerable patients get hurt and their condition may worsen faster. Your loved one does not deserve this treatment at all, and their family can be traumatized by this knowledge. We are here to help you get justice for your loved one and try to help the situation by fighting for you and your loved ones.
Types of Abuse and Neglect with Hospice Agencies
Abuse and neglect can take many forms. Know the warning signs, so you can better protect your loved ones. If you notice that your loved one exhibits any of the following, you should take action immediately.
- Bed Rail Entrapment: Bed rails are commonly used to assist patients who may have limited mobility or pose a high risk of falling out of bed at night. “Bedrail entrapment” occurs when a patient becomes stuck between the mattress and bed rail, which can result in serious injury or even death. There are four main ways that bed rail entrapment occurs: in-between split bed rails; in-between a single bed rail’s bars; between the bed rail and mattress; and between the bed rail, mattress, headboard, or footboard. When bed rails are not properly implemented by the nursing home or particular employees, they may be legally liable if their negligence directly results in bed rail entrapment and injuries.
- Bed Rail Injuries: Portable bed rails, which are commonly used in medical facilities, can be dangerous for elderly patients, and one study found over 150 fatalities involving these devices between 2003 and 2012; nearly 30% of these deaths occurred in nursing homes and similar facilities, and over 80% of victims were 60 years of age or older. The FDA identifies the main risks of bed rails as suffocation or strangulation when the head or neck is entrapped; bruising, lacerations, or fractures in trapped limbs; severe agitation and/or confusion when entrapped in the bed rail; and death, in serious cases. When a nursing home resident suffers a bed rail injury, the nursing home, a particular staff member, the bed rail’s manufacturer, or a combination of these may be legally liable due to negligence.
- Bed Sores: Bedsores are often called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers. These sores originate at points of pressure. They develop inside-out so that once the wound opens through the outer layer of skin, it is a full-blown ulcer and very susceptible to infection. These wounds range in severity from mild such as skin reddening to severe which are deep craters that go down through the muscle to the bone. Bedsores can develop quickly, and treatment is often difficult – especially among elderly patients. These ulcers tend to be very difficult to heal, requiring a continuous effort to relieve the pressure between the bone and the exterior of the body. Unfortunately, nursing home residents with limited mobility, who are confined to the bed or chair, are uniquely at risk for suffering these injuries.
- Burns: While burn accidents in hospices are entirely preventable, hospice patients are unfortunately at greater risk of injury when these accidents occur due to decreased mobility or diminished hearing or eyesight, which can potentially result in delayed reaction times. Common causes of burn accidents include smoking hazards, such as when a facility allows indoor smoking; unsupervised candles, which can increase the risk of fire; flammable medical hazards related to electrical equipment, flammable gases, or pressurized oxygen; or even faulty or exposed electrical wiring in the facility itself. The hospice and/or particular staff members should be held accountable when negligence directly results in a burn accident and injuries.
- Choking: Choking accidents can occur with medications, especially larger pills, but occur primarily during meals when nursing patients and/or their food intake are not properly supervised by professionals. Some patients require restricted diets due to difficulty swallowing, which can result from neurological damage or disorders, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other conditions, and are at greater risk of choking when eating unsupervised, while choking can also be a general risk for many elderly patients regardless of particular conditions. The hospice may be considered negligent when a lack of supervision or proper restriction of a patient’s diet directly results in a choking incident.
- Clogged Breathing Tubes: Hospice patients who need assistance with ventilation typically use an “endotracheal tube,” which is inserted through the nose or mouth and connects to a mechanical ventilator. Maintaining these tubes requires quality nursing care, and negligence can result in clogged breathing tubes, which can have serious and even fatal complications. These include clogging by secretions or mucus plugs, which can potentially result in respiratory distress, arrest, or complete or partial collapse of the lung; hypoxia, meaning a lack of oxygen from limited airflow; and sudden death. As such, these cases can be serious and result in medical malpractice or wrongful death claims to hold the hospice and/or particular employees accountable for their negligence.
- Dropped Patients: Some patients need assistance when standing or walking, and accidents and serious injuries can occur when staff members use bad judgment or do not follow the facility’s protocols. These drops can occur due to negligence when transferring a patient from a wheelchair to the bed or from one chair to another, and resulting injuries may include fractured bones, traumatic brain injury (TBI), damage to internal organs, or even death. In addition to not following protocols, other risk factors for drops include poor training, understaffing, lack of equipment, or faulty equipment, and the most common root causes are the negligence of one or more particular employees and/or the facility’s failure to properly assess the patient’s needs.
- Emotional Abuse: Emotional abuse of hospice patients can come in many forms, including insults, harassment, threats/intimidation, yelling/screaming, and other behaviors. While emotional abuse is often the fault of one or more particular employees rather than the hospice itself, the facility may also be legally liable for this abuse if inadequate background screening resulted in the hiring of an abusive employee who shouldn’t have received the position. Unfortunately, patients who are more vulnerable and/or require more care than others may be at greater risk of emotional abuse, and in all cases, hospice employees should be held legally accountable for their negligence.
- Fractures: Elderly patients - especially those suffering from osteoporosis - are more prone to suffering broken bones or fractures in accidents, and those aged 75 years and older are at the greatest risk of any age group. These injuries include spontaneous fractures, stress fractures, and traumatic fractures, and common causes include improperly moving or lifting a patient, inadequate supervision for patients in wheelchairs, and inadequate training for handling a patient’s mobility requirements. Fractures can require months of physical and psychological recovery, even when treated as soon as possible, and the nursing home may be legally liable when its negligence directly results in an accident and injury.
- Infections: There is an unfortunate epidemic of infections acquired not outside of medical facilities, but within them, resulting in over 1.7 million cases per year for infections acquired within hospitals alone. Hospices are also vulnerable to these infections, which often come from blood transfusions, catheters, patient-rooms, surgical incisions or hardware, ventilators, and other medical equipment. hospices must have comprehensive infection-control policies to protect everyone within the facility, including patients, staff, and visitors, and these policies cover hand-hygiene, personal protective equipment, quarantine protocols, environmental cleanliness, and other factors. The nursing home may be legally liable for an infection acquired within the facility due to negligence.
- Inadequate Supervision: Inadequate supervision in hospice agencies is often caused by understaffing and/or improper training of staff and can result in a wide range of problems for patients, from dehydration/malnutrition and bedsores to medication errors, bed-related injuries, and even infections or medical complications. Hospices must always be properly staffed to address patients’ needs and respond to emergencies in a timely manner, and serious injuries and even death can result when patients aren’t properly supervised by staff members. If a patient suffers an injury or illness as a direct result of inadequate supervision, the hospice agency may be legally liable.
- Medication Errors: Preventable medication errors result in hundreds of thousands of adverse drug events (ADEs) per year, and in hospice agencies, they can result in serious injuries/illnesses and even death. These errors include prescribing the wrong medications or dosages, mislabeling medications, failure to take a patient’s complete medical history, and failure to note patients’ reactions to particular medications. Adverse drug events cost our society an estimated 98,000 lives and $3.5 billion per year and about 800,000 adverse drug events occur per year in long-term care facilities.
- Overmedication: Overmedication refers to a medication error in which a hospice patient is prescribed too much of a medication, either in quantity or dosage. Unintentional overmedication can occur due to understaffing or inexperienced improperly-trained staff, and intentional overmedication can occur when a facility wrongfully intends to sedate a patient for extended periods of time - also known as a “chemical restraint” - rather than address the root of the patient’s problem, which often results from a flawed caretaking philosophy which regularly resorts to overmedication. This practice can result in serious injury, illness, or death whether intentional or not and the hospice agency should be held legally accountable for these errors.
- Physical Abuse: Physical abuse in hospice agencies involves violence or physical force and can come in many forms. Common signs of abuse of a patient include scratches, bites, bruises, burns, or even inappropriate restraints. Unfortunately, much of this abuse goes unreported: only one out of every six patients who are physically abused report the incident afterward, according to some estimates, resulting in organizations such as the CDC and NCPEA labeling elder abuse an “invisible problem.” As such, it’s important to understand both the physical and behavioral signs that abuse may be taking place.
- Physical Assault: Assault and battery is the most blatant form of physical abuse in hospices and is among the most egregious violations of patients’ rights. Physical assault may include punching, slapping, kicking, shaking, and other forms of force, and while many victims were assaulted by staff members, assault among patients of the facility can also occur due to the staff’s negligence, particularly inadequate supervision. There are many risk factors for physical assault in hospices: some facilities do not properly screen their employees and may hire individuals who are unstable or have violent tendencies; inadequate staffing can place great stress on employees who then act irrationally, and some patients’ physical or psychological limitations make them unfortunate targets for violence.
- Sepsis: Sepsis can occur when bacteria infect the bloodstream and often develops from bedsores and similar medical complications. Severe sepsis, also known as “septic shock,” can be fatal if not treated as soon as possible, so it’s important that these conditions are closely monitored, and the root causes are identified. A hospice agency may be legally liable if the negligence resulted in the condition which led to sepsis, such as bedsores, or if the negligence directly resulted in sepsis or septic shock. If a patient passes away from septic shock resulting directly from negligence, the hospice or employees may be liable in a wrongful death claim.
- Sexual Assault: Sexual assault in hospices is a widespread and often underreported problem. Common signs of sexual abuse of a patient include bleeding or bruising in the genital area; stained or ripped clothing, linens, or bed sheets; unusual fear or anxiety, especially in the presence of a particular staff member; and depression or changes in mood. While hospice agencies and their employees are fully legally obligated to ensure that residents are safe, and their rights are protected, it’s important to maintain open communication with your loved one to determine as soon as possible if such horrendous abuse is taking place.
- Wheelchair Accidents: While almost all wheelchair accidents are entirely preventable, they typically occur when a patient is being transported from a wheelchair to a chair or bed (or vice-versa) and can result in serious injuries or even death. These accidents can occur when staff members are inexperienced, improperly trained, or in violation of the facility’s standard protocols for transporting patients, each of which may be considered negligence on behalf of the employee and/or nursing home itself. Other common causes include inadequate supervision, failure to apply brakes when the wheelchair is not in motion, or improper securement of the wheelchair in a vehicle.
- Wrongful Death: Wrongful death in a hospice is the ultimate negligence for which no compensation is ever fully sufficient. The most common causes in these cases are dehydration and malnutrition, which can also make patients more susceptible to infections and illnesses; and medication errors, which typically consist of prescribing the wrong medication, improper dosage, or multiple medications that should not be mixed, all of which can be fatal in certain cases. When a patient’s wrongful death was a direct result of the negligence of a hospice agency or particular employees within it, the surviving family has a legal right to pursue compensation and hold the negligent party accountable for their wrongdoing.
Home Health Care Abuse and Neglect Lawyers Can Help You
If you believe a loved one has been abused or neglected at a hospice facility, contact us for a free consultation. Agruss Law Firm, LLC, represents victims of hospice abuse and neglect throughout Illinois. We will handle your case quickly, advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. This litigation strategy will provide you with the best possible compensation. Plus, we do not get paid attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. Therefore, you have nothing to risk when you hire our firm—just the opportunity to seek justice. Protect your rights by contacting us today.
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