One piece of data in a resident’s nursing home chart that we review closely in every nursing home abuse and neglect case is the Minimum Data Set, or MDS. The MDS is a report submitted to the federal government which serves as the basis for determining a nursing home resident’s acuity level. This in turn serves as a basis for the amount that the nursing home will be paid for caring for the resident. Because it is involved in determining the pay that the nursing home receives, it is submitted under oath by the team that completes the various sections of the MDS.
There is a series of MDS forms which are completed when a resident is admitted or re-admitted to the nursing home, quarterly, and then upon a significant change in condition. Each MDS is worthy of its own close review.
The MDS is completed by an interdisciplinary team, but the bulk of it is completed by a nurse whose title is most often the MDS coordinator. She does her own assessment of the resident, reviews information contained in the resident chart, and discusses the resident with the floor staff who have been caring for the resident.
Depending on how the resident is evaluated on the MDS, this may trigger various areas for care planning in the resident’s care plan. As experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers, we use the resident’s care plan as a guide for our investigation of nursing home abuse and neglect cases.
Some of the information found on the MDS which we find significant in our investigation of the cases we handle includes:
- In cases involving bed sores – the number of bed sores a resident has at the time of the assessment and the stages of each; whether a resident has deficits in their mobility; whether the resident suffers from incontinence of bowel or bladder; whether there is specialized equipment in use to help prevent bed sores; and if a resident already has bed sores, what kinds of treatment are being provided;
- In cases involving nursing home falls – whether the resident has had a history of falls, as falls tend to beget additional falls; whether the resident has difficulties with balance, strength, or gait dysfunction; whether the resident suffers from confusion or dementia; and whether the resident is taking medications that are associated with an increased risk of falling; and
- In wrongful death cases – whether the resident at the time of the assessement had a life expectancy of less than 6 months. Many times nursing homes take the position in death cases that the death of a resident following a fall, the onset of bed sores, or some other form of poor care was actually due to old age or some other medical issue unrelated to the substandard care. Having the nursing home certify during the last MDS period that the resident had a life expectancy of greater than 6 months goes a long way to undercutting that argument.
One of the strengths we bring to every case is that we truly understand the process by which care is delivered in nursing homes, how records of that care are generated, and the significance of what is contained in the resident chart. Please contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation if you have any concerns about the care that your loved one received in an Illinois nursing home.