There are few circumstances more heartbreaking than watching someone you love suffer from a terminal illness or other end-of-life health challenges. Placing a loved one into hospice care is an act of compassion and trust. When the hospice care program breaks our trust, the impact on the injured party can be devastating.
In this post from Tim Gilpin Law Office, we’re taking a closer look at how you can help prevent hospice care abuse and what you can do if it happens to someone you love. To learn more about hospice care abuse and other medical malpractice surrounding end-of-life issues, call Tim Gilpin and schedule a consultation.
When Hospice Care Leads to Harm
According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, more than 1.55 million Medicare patients received hospice care in 2018 with an average lifetime length of stay of just over 89 days. In a pair reports by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General’s office, the HHS found that most U.S. hospice providers participating in Medicare demonstrated deficiencies in their quality of care. While the HHS is continuing to develop recommendations to help reduce the risk of harm to hospice patients, the issues of medical malpractice and hospice abuse remains serious risks for anyone with a loved one in hospice care.
The Role of Hospice Care
As an individual faces end-of-life issues, the need for ongoing care with even the simplest daily needs compounds. As patients face the final stages of chronic or terminal health conditions, their health care needs become more about making them comfortable and helping them through their final days with as little pain as possible and providing other important types of support both for the patient and for their family.
These are just some of the issues a good hospice care team will attend to:
Mental health care
Help with personal hygiene and other daily needs
Respite for family caregivers
A good hospice care team may include physicians and nurse practitioners who specialize in gerontology and/or palliative care, support nurses, health aides, physical therapists, occupational therapists, mental health counselors, social workers, and clergy.
Overall, the goal of a hospice care program is to make the transition through the patient’s end-of-life period as comfortable as possible, allowing the individual to die with dignity. Sadly, too many hospice providers fail in that obligation.
When Hospice Care Fails a Loved One
As outlined in the HHS reports, the reasons for hospice care abuse and other deficiencies are often complex with many related to economic pressures and benefits intrinsic to the U.S. healthcare system. These can lead to problems with staffing, poor or inadequate training, negligence of care, and even outright exploitation of patients.
These are some of the most common examples of how hospice providers can fail a palliative care patient:
Medication errors under any circumstances could result in serious harm or loss of life. But for highly vulnerable hospice patients, medication errors can be even more impactful. A hospice care provider is responsible for administering the correct medication in the correct dose and monitoring the patient’s medication plan. Any mistake in that patient’s medication management is potentially medical malpractice.
Neglect of a hospice patient can take many forms. One that doesn’t receive nearly enough attention is undermedication. Hospice providers are responsible for helping patients manage their discomfort and symptoms. If a provider is undertreating pain or other symptoms that lead to a patient’s discomfort, this is a violation of their obligation to provide care for the patient. In some cases, this failure to properly medicate could even be tied to medication diversion.
Another type of patient neglect is failure to provide proper wound management. When pressure ulcers (bedsores) are not properly managed, these conditions can become extremely painful and hasten a patient’s demise. Neglect can also mean failing to attend to a patient’s personal hygiene or provide the nutrition that patient needs.
Hospice providers are also obligated to respond when a patient needs them. Failure to respond to a patient when he or she repeatedly calls for help may constitute an example of patient neglect even if the patient’s needs arise after normal business hours or when the provider is understaffed.
It goes without saying that anyone working with hospice patients is obligated to treat them with respect, patience, and care. Caregivers have no right to physically harm or injure a patient under any circumstances. Any time a provider pushes, hits, or inappropriately restrains a patient is unacceptable.
Verbal, psychological, and emotional abuse
Verbal and emotional abuse are far more common than most people realize in hospice environments. A hospice caregiver should be emotionally and professionally prepared for the challenges of caring for a hospice patient without compromising their care. Humiliating a patient, verbally abusing them, or threatening them is unacceptable. Isolating that patient, causing them fear, or emotionally manipulating them are further examples of abusive behaviors.
Sadly, some caregivers will take advantage of a hospice patient’s vulnerable state to exploit them financially whether the guilty party is outright stealing the patient’s personal belongings or attempting to manipulate the patient into estate planning in their favor or giving them money. Some hospice providers will even take advantage of the patient and their family by committing fraud to overbill the patient or their insurance. All of these constitute financial abuse.
Choosing a Hospice Provider
One of the best ways you can protect your loved one as they enter hospice is to do your research before choosing a provider. Don’t be afraid to schedule an interview with each potential hospice provider you’re considering. Here’s a list of questions to take with you:
Which individuals will be on my loved ones care team?
What are their qualifications?
What are the provider’s hiring requirements?
Are caregivers subjected to criminal background checks?
How are they screened to ensure they can safely provide hospice care?
What kind of training do caregivers receive from the provider?
How does the provider minimize negligence, abuse, and other deficiencies?
Can we reach out to a caseworker at all times?
What is the process for handling concerns regarding a patient’s care?
Researching Your Choices
Don’t rush into choosing a hospice provider. Here are a few morethings you can do to make sure you’ve explored all of your options:
Ask friends, family, and medical professionals you trust for their experiences and suggestions.
Look up Google and Facebook ratings for the provider you’re considering.
Visit Hospice Compare to learn more about the providers available in your community.
Developing a Hospice Plan of Care
Every hospice provider is legally required to develop an individualized care plan (POC) for each patient. It’s important to work with your hospice care provider to develop a plan of care that prioritizes your loved one’s safety, comfort, quality of life, and personal needs. As you go into the process, take some time to consider your loved one’s goals as well as your family’s concerns. And remember: hospice plans of care are meant to provide palliative care, not cure or heal a patient.
According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), hospice plan of care deficiencies are some of the more common deficiencies among hospice care providers. These are some of the more common deficiencies CMS found surrounding POCs:
Incomplete plans of care
Plans of care were not individualized
Inadequate documentation of visits
Documentation of visits failed to reflect POC requirements
Failure to update POCs
Be sure to ask for a copy of your loved one’s POC. Letting the provider know that you will be closely watching POC requirements can go a long way in holding providers responsible for these deficiencies.
Reporting Hospice Deficiencies, Neglect, and Abuse
If possible, speak to your loved one regularly to ensure they are receiving the appropriate level of care including comfort, safety, and compassion. If you suspect any type of medical malpractice surrounding a hospice patient’s care, be sure to document everything and report it immediately to the appropriate authorities.
Here are some things you can do:
Speak with your hospice provider about your concerns, reporting any issues to the hospice administrator.
Call the local police if you suspect a crime has been committed.
Contact 1-800-MEDICARE to discuss your concerns.
Contact an attorney to discuss your loved one’s rights.
Contact Attorney Tim Gilpin
Whether due to abuse, negligence, or other deficiencies, it your loved one is receiving anything less than the appropriate standard of care, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice case. Bringing a medical malpractice case against deficient or bad faith hospice providers can do more than just help your loved one regain their dignity — it can also help to ensure future patients don’t have to go through what your family and loved one has endured.
To discuss your medical malpractice concerns with a seasoned, compassionate attorney, call Tim Gilpin today for your consultation.
As Oklahomas, we are no strangers to extreme weather. From ice storms to tornado outbreaks, we’ve seen it all in Green Country, and we’re ready when Mother Nature hits. But that doesn’t mean our home is, which is why it’s so important to have a good home insurance company you can rely on.
Unfortunately, insurance companies aren’t always willing to live up to their obligations, especially when a rash of wicked weather means they have to pay up for home damage throughout a community. But failure to meet their obligations is not only bad faith insurance — it’s also against the law.
When you need helping getting your bad faith insurance policy to pay out, you need an experienced local attorney who understands your rights under Oklahoma law. As a lifelong Tulsan, Tim Gilpin understands exactly what you’re dealing with when you’re facing storm damage and your policy tries to weasel out of paying. Here’s everything you need to know about bad faith insurance in Oklahoma.
What is Homeowners Insurance Bad Faith?
Anytime you take out an insurance policy whether it’s car insurance or homeowners insurance, you and your insurance company are entering into an agreement. If your policy includes storm damage coverage and your insurance company tries to get out of paying, this constitutes bad faith.
One of the most common issues homeowners run into is a delayed payment —- the same company that expected their payments on time every month might be in no hurry to process your claim. Denied claims are also common after serious storms. The good news is that if your insurance company is giving you the runaround, you may be above to recover those losses in court. Depending on the case, you may even be entitled to recover punitive damages.
Tornado Damage and Bad Faith Insurance Insurance
Ask enough Oklahomans and you’re bound to find an example of bad faith storm payouts. One of the more famous examples involved a Farmers Insurance subsidiary called Foremost Insurance in the wake of the 2013 Moore tornado. On May 20, 2013, an extraordinarily violent EF5 tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma and surrounding communities. The tornado only lasted 39 minutes, but in that time, it resulted in 24 deaths and left hundreds of Oklahomans displaced. By the end of the recovery, the storm had led to 45,000 homeowners insurance claims throughout Oklahoma City and Moore, costing an estimated $2 billion.
It’s bad enough to experience such tragedy and devastation to one’s home while witnessing the impact to one’s community. But to add insult to injury, one insurance company tried to get out of paying for their obligations and leave homeowners holding the bag. As reported in The Oklahoman, many homeowners called their insurance company to file a claim for their unsafe and uninhabitable homes only to be told that the damage was repairable.
Filing a Storm Damage Claim
Strong winds and bad weather is a fact of life in Oklahoma, but staying prepared for those inevitable insurance claims can help when it comes to making sure your insurance company pays what they owe.
Follow these steps next time you need to file a storm claim:
Call your insurance company right away.
Document everything by taking photos and saving them in a dedicated file.
Look over your insurance policy.
Contact your insurance company before throwing anything out.
Keep an itemized list of damaged items and and values.
Document every contact with your insurance company.
Contact Tim Gilpin for Oklahoma Insurance Legal Help
If your insurance company is dragging their feet, don’t wait to find out what your rights are. Call Tim Gilpin today at 918.583.8900 and get started on the path to recovery.
It’s springtime in Oklahoma, which means warm weather is in full swing. While there’s nothing quite like rolling down the car windows and going for a drive on a bluebird morning here in Green Country, it’s easy for some drivers to get a little too caught up in all that spring fever. From speedy drivers to solar glare, there are plenty of springtime hazards that threaten even the most careful drivers.
If you do end up involved in a springtime auto accident, you count on your auto insurance policy to cover the damage. But sadly, some insurers will try to weasel out of paying what’s due – a practice known as bad faith. At Tim Gilpin Law Office, we help victims of bad faith insurance get what they’re owed. Here’s what you need to know about bad faith auto insurance in Oklahoma.
Good Faith Versus Bad Faith
Anytime you pay an insurance company, you’re doing so with a belief that they’ll hold up their end of the bargain when you need them to pay out. For Oklahoma auto insurance companies, good faith means a commitment to investigate your claim and pay out anything they’re contractually obligated to pay. Since insurance companies make more money when they pay out less, some will go out of their way to avoid paying out claims.
These are just a few of the slippery methods some bad faith insurers will use to avoid paying up what they owe:
Denying claims outright
Undervaluing repair costs
Delaying claim payment
Hidden fees and policy misrepresentation
Failure to renew future coverage
The Implications of Bad Faith Practices
Make no mistake – any attempt to cut their costs using deception to avoid paying out what you’re owed according to your contract constitutes a bad faith practice. And the consequences can be very real for drivers waiting on a greedy insurance company to cut them a check.
Most of us depend on our vehicles to get back and forth to work, take our kids to school, visit the doctor’s office, or even fulfill basic needs for our families. For most drivers, every day without a vehicle constitutes a hardship. It’s a hardship that only mounts when you’re in need of extra medical care after a car accident. No matter what your circumstances, every day your policy doesn’t pay up is one day too many.
Help for Your Bad Faith Auto Insurance Claim
If your insurance company is giving you the runaround or lowballing you on a claim, they’re most likely breaking the law. Fortunately, Oklahoma has regulations in place to protect drivers from just such abuses.
When arguing with the insurance company isn’t getting you anywhere, it’s time to call a bad faith insurance attorney like Tim Gilpin who understands your rights inside and out. Tim can help you read through the fine print of your policy and bring a claim that forces your insurance company to pay out. You may even be owed damages to cover additional expenses like pain and suffering.
Anytime you’re filing an auto insurance claim, be sure to follow these steps:
1. Look over your contract.
Keep a copy of your policy on file in your personal records. Anytime you’ve been involved in an auto accident, take the time to look over your policy before filing a claim – you’d be surprised at what your insurance company might be liable to cover.
2. Maintain records.
Keeping good records can be the difference that keeps bad faith insurers from weaseling out of payment. Keep a complete record of photos, receipts, and phone calls associated with your car accident claim.
3. Document insurance company interactions.
To keep your insurer from stringing you along with delays, take notes on every interaction with your insurance company.
4. Contact an attorney.
If you’re beginning to suspect that your insurance company is acting in bad faith, it’s time to call Tim Gilpin and begin the bad faith lawsuit process.
Get Help from Tim Gilpin
If you’ve been involved in an auto accident and you’re having a hard time getting the insurance company to pay out, give Tim a call. And remember: there’s no fee if there’s no recovery. Call Tim today at 918.583.8900 to get your legal evaluation started today.
If there’s anything we can count on living in Oklahoma, it’s unpredictable weather. With warm weather finally in full swing, we’ve already had a handful of wild weather fronts come sweeping down the plains this season. Three Oklahomans have tragically lost their lives already this year amid a rash of deadly tornadoes, and it’s only the beginning of tornado season.
It can be incredibly daunting to get your life and business back on track after a storm. But having access to the important information you need to keep things moving forward is essential to the storm recovery process. Whether you’re a business owner or a remote work employee, here’s what you need to know.
Keeping Essential Documents Safe
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of being able to access crucial information after a disaster. On the personal side of things, when you’re struggling with the physical and emotional impact of a disaster, the last thing you need is to have no proof of identification or insurance information to help you start getting your life back on track. As a business owner or remote employee, the ability to access important documents can help ensure continuity and protect your clients or company from a data breach.
Make a list of every record you need to back up or keep track of in the event that you’re forced to evacuate your home. Here’s a FEMA-recommended list of the most important documents to back up or gather in such an emergency:
Social security cards
Personal contact list
Business contact list
Health provider contact information
Health insurance cards
Financial Records and Information
Safe deposit box keys
Debit and credit card information
If you work remotely, you should also include a copy of your employer’s protocols in case of an emergency.
Creating an Emergency Contact List
Be sure to include everyone you might potentially need to connect with during or after an emergency on your contact list. We tend to rely on our phones to “remember” numbers for us these days. During an emergency, you may become separated from your phone or even be unable to power it on. It’s even possible that you might not have service depending on the type of emergency.
Don’t forget to include these numbers on your contact list:
Preferred contractors and services including plumber, general contractor, electrician, towing, and tree removal service
Backing Up Your Documents
Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s enough to keep your important documents in a safe location inside your home. In today’s world, there’s no reason why every important photo or document can’t be digitally backed up.
Follow these steps to ensure your documents will be safe in case of an emergency:
Scan all of your important documents.
Upload them to a secure cloud-based system.
Make sure everything is password-protected.
Be sure to check your backup system regularly.
Understand and follow any relevant remote work protocols.
Store your originals off-site in a safe deposit box or someplace safe.
Keep a flash drive with digital versions stored in your home emergency kit.
When things are chaotic in the wake of a disaster, maintaining good communication can go to ensure your clients and business partners that your operation isn’t going anywhere and their data, investment, or money is safe.
While creating your business disaster plan, be sure to plan ahead for the following:
Update your website and social media pages to let clients know where to contact you and what’s going on.
Update your voicemail messages.
Consider sending out a general text message.
Contact clients directly via text message, phone call, or email.
Confirm all appointments and reassure clients.
Manage expectations to let everyone know what to expect if you anticipate any delays.
Follow Cybersecurity Best Practices
If a disaster finds you unexpectedly working remotely, it’s important to understand and follow these safe cybersecurity practices:
Never use public wifi for business communications.
Turn on “Find My Device” so your device can be easily located if you become separated from it.
Encrypt all emails and sensitive data.
If you work for someone else, report any potential security issues right away.
Call Gilpin Law Office if You Need an Attorney
Recovering from a disaster is always challenging. But having the right people on your team can make all the difference. Tim Gilpin helps Oklahomans with bad faith insurance claims, wrongful termination, and more. To get your free consultation, give Gilpin Law Office a call today.