We Parents Get An F In School Bus Safety

By David Kennedy | October 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

I noticed that Texas and several other states have passed a form of seat belt requirements for school buses in this state. The new law requires that buses made in 2018 and thereafter will be required to have 3-point seat belts. What on earth took our elected officials so long?

A review of laws show that state legislatures have long debated the effectiveness of their use. Whatever! The end result is they will now be mandotory.

But, there is another safety feature that is an absolute must for buses. My 2007 Toyota Tundra came with two features that I can’t believe I ever lived without: XM radio and outside sensors. One is clearly not for safety. Instead, let’s talk about the sensors.

As stated, my truck is a 2007, so we know sensors have been pretty routine on vehicles at least that long. On my Tundra, they are located at the corners and central in the back. They start ‘beeping’ when I am within a couple of feet of an object – or when someone walks by – and then give me a steady beep within a foot of impact. I never thought I would rely so much on any ‘accessory’ as I do these as they ensure me that not only do I have room to maneuver, but more importantly, they let me know when I do not.

A colleague of mine recently settled a lawsuit wherein a school bus driver had let children off at a stop. The driver was unaware that one child had dropped his book and leaned down in front of the bus to retrieve it. I will spare you the details.

Especially with buses and vehicles that are designed and used for constant loading and unloading of passengers, a sensor should be mandatory and not an accessory. The point of a safety feature is just that: to ensure safety. It never assumes people are perfect or that the vehicles they use are as safe as possible. A safety feature is designed to prevent accidents – or lessen injuries – in those situations where we can envision someone is going to do something or fail to do something – negligent or not – and some person or some thing is going to be damaged.

We have seat belts not because accidents don’t happen, but because they do. It doesn’t make it any more palatable that it was ‘the other guy’s fault.’ We have seat belts because regardless of fault, we want to lessen the injuries and/or prevent death. Our lives are filled with efforts to lessen the impact of an accident when the best of our efforts or other safety measures taken have failed to prevent the accident altogether.

A major consideration in most risk v. benefit analysis for safety features is cost. Sensors are cheap. This is especially true when you consider the small size of so many school children moving around the outsides of buses. When a safety feature can be easily and cheaply installed and will prevent serious injury and death, then the feature should not be optional.

We parents have not made our voices loud enough on this issue, and as a result, sensors are not required. We can, and should, be better than that.

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We Should Not Be Surprised To Hear Of Fraud In Covering Up Nursing Home Deaths

By David Kennedy | September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

The New York Times reports today that investigators looking into the eight deaths at the Florida nursing home last week, are finding resident medical records to be “replete with late entries” whereby the staff came along after the fact and made entries that were supposed to have been made at the time of treatment. For someone like me who looked into nursing home records for over 25 years while investigating neglect and abuse, I can say this is so routine it would shock the conscience of the general public.

I have given seminars to lawyers handling nursing home neglect and abuse cases, and I often tell them something that is as true as the day is long: I have never looked at a resident’s chart and related nursing home records wherein I could not make a case for fraud. I mean each and every chart I reviewed in over 25 years of doing this work exposed what we call ‘fraudulent charting’ or work records that simply did not honestly add up.

The news report states that investigators found that the staff entered “resting in bed” with breathing that was “even and unlabored” for a resident that was dead by the time the entries were made. I hate to say it, but they ain’t seen nothing. I can’t count the number of times I found entries indicating full meals being consumed by residents who were simultaneously becoming malnourished. I represented a resident in New Mexico whose chart showed he was consuming adequate liquids – it should be noted he was physically incapable of drinking liquids without staff assistance – yet he became so dehydrated that they had to amputate both legs above the knees. Heck, on more than one occasion I have had them chart that they bathed dead people, i.e. my clients were dead and gone but they were still charting that they were giving them daily baths.

The point of this is to caution you to not only be vigilant in visiting family and friends who are in nursing homes, but to also make your voices heard against efforts to cut Medicaid funding in your state. Texas and Oklahoma refused funding and it has resulted in even more neglect, abuse and unnecessary suffering in our nursing homes. Medicaid funding is needed to help staff the state investigatory agencies who watchdog this industry. Medicaid reimbursement also helps these homes make a profit that they hopefully will use to increase the number of staff caring for our most vulnerable. This is nothing short of politics resulting in death. It truly is painful to watch.

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Abuse And Assaults In Nursing Homes Going Unreported

By David Kennedy | September 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

 

A recent report by the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office warns that it has found that 1 in 4 cases of sexual assault and abuse in America’s nursing homes is going unreported to police. Although the report is preliminary, it was based on a large sampling of cases in 33 states. Having handled these cases for over twenty years, consider me not surprised.

I have written here before about just how bad the treatment is of our nation’s nursing home residents. It is routine that the nursing aides – those that in reality are providing 99% of the care – are grossly undertrained, underpaid, and understaffed. It contributes to their cheating and lying on the care that is being given, and many in management and ownership tacitly agree to look the other way as the neglect and abuse runs rampant.

Add to the underlying problem of substandard care the fact that states such as Texas and Oklahoma have turned down federal monies and have cut Medicaid, and these findings cannot be shocking to anyone in the business. Although there are many good people who are in the business to help care for our ever-growing nursing home population, there does exist a large number of predators and offenders who have access daily to the elderly. We have approximately 1.4 million residents of nursing homes, and their neglect and abuse cannot be tolerated if we are to consider ourselves civilized and caring, and they should not be collateral damage to those like the leadership in Texas who play politics with federal aid.

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Is Your Doctor Being Paid To Turn You Into An Addict?

By David Kennedy | August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

As reported yesterday by the Washington Post and others, pharmaceutical companies are paying doctors to prescribe their opioids. According to the report, between 2013 and 2015, “68,177 doctors received more than $46 million in payments from drug companies pushing powerful painkillers.” That, in my opinion, is just not right.

Over 52,000 people died from opioid use in 2015, and according to the National Centers for Health Statistics, the first nine months of 2016 saw a spike in deaths related to opioid abuse. Deaths related to non-opioid drugs from Mexico – although cartels from Mexico do market opioids – pale in comparison to the carnage from marketing by drug companies. Think about it: this is legal marketing of drugs that like heroin and meth will hook their customers in an instant. And should the corporations be permitted to use physicians whose first oath to their patients is “to do no harm?” Where are the adults in the medical profession?

I recall the testimony of the ‘tobacco CEOs’ before congress in 1994. The industry they championed caused millions of deaths – and still does – all while they sold their products with impunity to public health and honesty. Congress never punished those who testified that ‘gummie bears’ were more addictive, giving at the very least tacit approval to capitalism being more important in our country than health and safety of those Congress was elected to protect. Given this backdrop, why should pharmaceutical companies and unethical doctors give a rip about the true cause and effect of their deadly scheme?

The answer lies in our demanding that corporate america play by the same rules that individuals and less-powerful citizens must play by. As an attorney, I could not advise a client to make a deal with someone who unbeknownst to my client was paying me to market to my client, i.e. a kickback. To a society that recognizes fairness as a fundamental tenet of its very existence, is there an acceptable exception to that rule of fairness for those among us to profit from non-disclosure of an obvious conflict. Couple that with ‘death’ being the cost we pay for that exception, and the answer is a screaming ‘NO.’

Until we find a way to ensure only leaders with a backbone are elected as our watchdogs, we can only rely on corporations being as good as the people who run them from the boardrooms. That doesn’t give me much hope.

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We Parents Get An F In School Bus Safety

By David Kennedy | October 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

I noticed that Texas and several other states have passed a form of seat belt requirements for school buses in this state. The new law requires that buses made in 2018 and thereafter will be required to have 3-point seat belts. What on earth took our elected officials so long?

A review of laws show that state legislatures have long debated the effectiveness of their use. Whatever! The end result is they will now be mandotory.

But, there is another safety feature that is an absolute must for buses. My 2007 Toyota Tundra came with two features that I can’t believe I ever lived without: XM radio and outside sensors. One is clearly not for safety. Instead, let’s talk about the sensors.

As stated, my truck is a 2007, so we know sensors have been pretty routine on vehicles at least that long. On my Tundra, they are located at the corners and central in the back. They start ‘beeping’ when I am within a couple of feet of an object – or when someone walks by – and then give me a steady beep within a foot of impact. I never thought I would rely so much on any ‘accessory’ as I do these as they ensure me that not only do I have room to maneuver, but more importantly, they let me know when I do not.

A colleague of mine recently settled a lawsuit wherein a school bus driver had let children off at a stop. The driver was unaware that one child had dropped his book and leaned down in front of the bus to retrieve it. I will spare you the details.

Especially with buses and vehicles that are designed and used for constant loading and unloading of passengers, a sensor should be mandatory and not an accessory. The point of a safety feature is just that: to ensure safety. It never assumes people are perfect or that the vehicles they use are as safe as possible. A safety feature is designed to prevent accidents – or lessen injuries – in those situations where we can envision someone is going to do something or fail to do something – negligent or not – and some person or some thing is going to be damaged.

We have seat belts not because accidents don’t happen, but because they do. It doesn’t make it any more palatable that it was ‘the other guy’s fault.’ We have seat belts because regardless of fault, we want to lessen the injuries and/or prevent death. Our lives are filled with efforts to lessen the impact of an accident when the best of our efforts or other safety measures taken have failed to prevent the accident altogether.

A major consideration in most risk v. benefit analysis for safety features is cost. Sensors are cheap. This is especially true when you consider the small size of so many school children moving around the outsides of buses. When a safety feature can be easily and cheaply installed and will prevent serious injury and death, then the feature should not be optional.

We parents have not made our voices loud enough on this issue, and as a result, sensors are not required. We can, and should, be better than that.

Click To Add Comment

We Should Not Be Surprised To Hear Of Fraud In Covering Up Nursing Home Deaths

By David Kennedy | September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

The New York Times reports today that investigators looking into the eight deaths at the Florida nursing home last week, are finding resident medical records to be “replete with late entries” whereby the staff came along after the fact and made entries that were supposed to have been made at the time of treatment. For someone like me who looked into nursing home records for over 25 years while investigating neglect and abuse, I can say this is so routine it would shock the conscience of the general public.

I have given seminars to lawyers handling nursing home neglect and abuse cases, and I often tell them something that is as true as the day is long: I have never looked at a resident’s chart and related nursing home records wherein I could not make a case for fraud. I mean each and every chart I reviewed in over 25 years of doing this work exposed what we call ‘fraudulent charting’ or work records that simply did not honestly add up.

The news report states that investigators found that the staff entered “resting in bed” with breathing that was “even and unlabored” for a resident that was dead by the time the entries were made. I hate to say it, but they ain’t seen nothing. I can’t count the number of times I found entries indicating full meals being consumed by residents who were simultaneously becoming malnourished. I represented a resident in New Mexico whose chart showed he was consuming adequate liquids – it should be noted he was physically incapable of drinking liquids without staff assistance – yet he became so dehydrated that they had to amputate both legs above the knees. Heck, on more than one occasion I have had them chart that they bathed dead people, i.e. my clients were dead and gone but they were still charting that they were giving them daily baths.

The point of this is to caution you to not only be vigilant in visiting family and friends who are in nursing homes, but to also make your voices heard against efforts to cut Medicaid funding in your state. Texas and Oklahoma refused funding and it has resulted in even more neglect, abuse and unnecessary suffering in our nursing homes. Medicaid funding is needed to help staff the state investigatory agencies who watchdog this industry. Medicaid reimbursement also helps these homes make a profit that they hopefully will use to increase the number of staff caring for our most vulnerable. This is nothing short of politics resulting in death. It truly is painful to watch.

Click To Add Comment

Abuse And Assaults In Nursing Homes Going Unreported

By David Kennedy | September 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

 

A recent report by the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office warns that it has found that 1 in 4 cases of sexual assault and abuse in America’s nursing homes is going unreported to police. Although the report is preliminary, it was based on a large sampling of cases in 33 states. Having handled these cases for over twenty years, consider me not surprised.

I have written here before about just how bad the treatment is of our nation’s nursing home residents. It is routine that the nursing aides – those that in reality are providing 99% of the care – are grossly undertrained, underpaid, and understaffed. It contributes to their cheating and lying on the care that is being given, and many in management and ownership tacitly agree to look the other way as the neglect and abuse runs rampant.

Add to the underlying problem of substandard care the fact that states such as Texas and Oklahoma have turned down federal monies and have cut Medicaid, and these findings cannot be shocking to anyone in the business. Although there are many good people who are in the business to help care for our ever-growing nursing home population, there does exist a large number of predators and offenders who have access daily to the elderly. We have approximately 1.4 million residents of nursing homes, and their neglect and abuse cannot be tolerated if we are to consider ourselves civilized and caring, and they should not be collateral damage to those like the leadership in Texas who play politics with federal aid.

Click To Add Comment

Is Your Doctor Being Paid To Turn You Into An Addict?

By David Kennedy | August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

As reported yesterday by the Washington Post and others, pharmaceutical companies are paying doctors to prescribe their opioids. According to the report, between 2013 and 2015, “68,177 doctors received more than $46 million in payments from drug companies pushing powerful painkillers.” That, in my opinion, is just not right.

Over 52,000 people died from opioid use in 2015, and according to the National Centers for Health Statistics, the first nine months of 2016 saw a spike in deaths related to opioid abuse. Deaths related to non-opioid drugs from Mexico – although cartels from Mexico do market opioids – pale in comparison to the carnage from marketing by drug companies. Think about it: this is legal marketing of drugs that like heroin and meth will hook their customers in an instant. And should the corporations be permitted to use physicians whose first oath to their patients is “to do no harm?” Where are the adults in the medical profession?

I recall the testimony of the ‘tobacco CEOs’ before congress in 1994. The industry they championed caused millions of deaths – and still does – all while they sold their products with impunity to public health and honesty. Congress never punished those who testified that ‘gummie bears’ were more addictive, giving at the very least tacit approval to capitalism being more important in our country than health and safety of those Congress was elected to protect. Given this backdrop, why should pharmaceutical companies and unethical doctors give a rip about the true cause and effect of their deadly scheme?

The answer lies in our demanding that corporate america play by the same rules that individuals and less-powerful citizens must play by. As an attorney, I could not advise a client to make a deal with someone who unbeknownst to my client was paying me to market to my client, i.e. a kickback. To a society that recognizes fairness as a fundamental tenet of its very existence, is there an acceptable exception to that rule of fairness for those among us to profit from non-disclosure of an obvious conflict. Couple that with ‘death’ being the cost we pay for that exception, and the answer is a screaming ‘NO.’

Until we find a way to ensure only leaders with a backbone are elected as our watchdogs, we can only rely on corporations being as good as the people who run them from the boardrooms. That doesn’t give me much hope.

Click To Add Comment

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