Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sister Wins Guardianship Battle Over Tennessee Public Guardian

After a three-month court battle and a personal plea at the end of a two-hour court hearing, a 78-year-old Nashville resident won her battle Tuesday to have a family member serve as her conservator rather than the county public guardian.

Davidson County Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy ruled that Mary Fowler’s younger sister, Judy Cathell, an Illinois resident, will take over immediately as conservator.

Jeanan Mills Stuart, the public guardian, was appointed as temporary conservator for Fowler late last year over the objections of Robert Walsh, a brother who also lives in Illinois, who petitioned to be conservator instead. Robert Walsh said he was told he couldn’t be the conservator because he lived in another state. No such objection was raised Tuesday to Cathell’s appointment.

Other family members and wards have complained about fees charged by Stuart, the public guardian appointed by Metro Council. She currently charges $225 an hour even when she is doing non-legal work. A handful of wards have fought their conservatorships under Stuart and gotten released.

In this case, Fowler and her family contacted The Tennessean after seeing a story published Sunday about Davidson County’s public guardian. They complained that they had no control over Fowler’s finances and life decisions, and questioned Stuart’s proposal to sell her home. They argued in court that a family member would be better suited to be conservator.

“This is the worst thing I’ve seen in my life,” Robert Walsh said of the entire process.

After testimony by caregivers and relatives, Kennedy stepped down from the bench and took a chair across from Fowler to hear her personal plea, which was barely above a whisper. Seated in a wheelchair, Fowler said that she agreed that her sister could properly care for her. “You need the assistance of your sister,” Kennedy said. Fowler plans to move to Illinois to be closer to her sister and a brother.

Asked after the court session if she was happy with the result, Fowler smiled and said, “Yes, now I have my money back.”

Full Article & Source:
Sister Wins Guardianship Battle Over Tennessee Public Guardian

Friday, February 22, 2013

Judge David Randy Kennedy's written response to The Tennessean's questions

The following are excerpts from written answers given by 7th Circuit Court Judge David Randy Kennedy to questions by The Tennessean.

Question: I did note that following complaints from Joe Haynes, you reduced her requested fee in the case of Nora Roberts ((09p923) ... Have you reduced her fee requests in any other cases?

“With respect to Ms. Roberts case, 09P923, I determined that it was appropriate to reduce the amount of Ms. Stuart’s fee. The Order entered November 20, 2009 reflects a fee of $22,796.25 whereas the Motion was for $29,396.26, for a reduction of $6,600.01. While I recall this as being a contested case relative to who should be appointed, as you are aware the hearing on this particular Motion occurred more than three years ago, and I just do not have any independent memory of the specific arguments presented by counsel. Clearly, there was an objection to the amount and I was appropriately persuaded to reduce the fees as indicated. The establishment of fees and compensation is within the discretion of the trial Court. Case law requires the Court to examine a wide range of facts including a determination as to whether the amount being sought by the fiduciary or attorney is reasonable and necessary, whether the service benefitted the ward or his estate, and if the service did not ultimately benefit the estate, whether it was intended to benefit the ward or his estate. In cases where the amount of the ward’s assets or income is extremely limited, there are occasions where the court either denies or reduces fees on the basis of fairness and equity. If an objection is filed to a Motion for fees, the court is obligated to examine the objection and to take evidence in conformity with the Local Rules and Rules of Evidence to determine whether the objection is valid.

“It is certainly possible that I have reduced her fees in other cases, as I have with respect to other fiduciaries and attorneys. However, I have never made a finding of malfeasance on her part and have never been presented with any evidence that would support such a determination. Rarely, in the years that Ms. Stuart has served as Public Guardian have I received any objection to her fees. The job of Public Guardian is enormously challenging and frequently requires much more direct human interaction, as well as explosive family conflicts than one might expect.”

Full Article & Source:
Judge David Randy Kennedy's written response to The Tennessean's questions

Elder abuse mandatory reporting bill clears Colorado Senate committee

A bill requiring people in certain occupations ranging from medical care to the clergy to report abuse of seniors cleared a Colorado Senate committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 111 is the product of an elder abuse task force that met last year to make recommendations on legislation requiring mandatory reporting of elder abuse. Colorado is one of only three states that does not have such a law.

The bill would  require doctors, nurses, social workers, clergy members, law enforcement officers, nursing home staff, home health care workers and others to report any neglect or abuse of anyone over the age of 70 within 24 hours of observing the abuse. Those who willfully fail to report abuse could face a fine up to $750 and up to six months in jail.

"We have an obligation to prevent crime and to lessen the effects on victims and that's what this bill does," Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, sponsor of the legislation, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Hudak said similar legislation has been proposed for decades, but there always were concerns about how it would be paid for because increased reporting of elder abuse could raise case loads for Adult Protective Services investigators. A 2005 bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Bill Owens.

Full Article & Source:
Elder abuse mandatory reporting bill clears Colorado Senate committee

Elder Abuse Manslaughter Charges Pursued Against Facility Operator

One of the signs that elder abuse is being taken more seriously are the increases in penalties faced by those who are caught engaging in this conduct. It is well understood that the vast majority of mistreatment of senior community members never ends up in a police report or complaint charges with regulatory agencies. Instead, most seniors suffer in silence, living out their golden years in pain and depression.

Yet, one way that those unreported cases might taken more seriously are the increases in penalties faced by those who are caught engaging in this conduct. It is well understood that the vast majority of mistreatment of senior community members never ends up in a police report or complaint charges with regulatory agencies. Instead, most seniors suffer in silence, living out their golden years in pain and depression. One of the signs that elder abuse is being taken more seriously are the increases in penalties faced by those who are caught engaging in this conduct. It is well understood that the vast majority of mistreatment of senior community members never ends up in a police report or complaint charges with regulatory agencies. Instead, most seniors suffer in silence, living out their golden years in pain and depression.t be influenced is by setting the the example via significant punishments for those actually caught doing wrong. The deterrent effect may work to prevent some neglect, with wrongdoers knowing that they could face serious ramifications for their conduct.

More Criminal Charges for Egregious Caregiving Lapses
For example, in what is being reported as a first of its kind prosecution, an elder caregiver who was supposed to provide support at a senior living home is facing manslaughter charges following one resident’s death. As reported in the Sacramento Bee, the 88-year old resident in question had lived in the senior care facility managed by the defendant since 2007. The senior passed away last June, and it was soon learned that the death was caused in large part by massive bed sores that she developed while living at the facility. Essentially, a few of the bedsores, particularly on her buttocks, were so severe that she developed sepsis. Sepsis is a far too common cause of death for nursing home residents related to severe bodily reactions from germ or bacteria infections.

Sadly, no one seemed to care about the woman’s condition until it was too late. An emergency room doctor who treated the senior explained that the bed sores were among the worst he had ever seen. They were of the “Stage 4” variety--the most severe category.

Full Article & Source:
Elder Abuse Manslaughter Charges Pursued Against Facility Operator

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jeanan Mills Stuart's written responses to The Tennessean's questions

These are excerpts from Jeanan Mills Stuart’s written response to The Tennessean.

“I think it is a good idea to give you a general description of my job as the Public Guardian for Davidson County. The Probate Court Judge nominates the Public Guardian and the nomination is confirmed by the City Council. I am not paid a salary for being the Public Guardian by Davidson County. I am provided with a security badge that gets me past the security checkpoint at the Courthouse. I am provided access to Caselink, an online database of Circuit Court filings. The premium on my blanket surety bond is paid for by Davidson County. In exchange, I am the default person selected as guardian or conservator where there is no other party found by the Probate Court Judge to be appropriate or willing to take on the task. I am obligated to provide all the care needed by my wards regardless of the ability of the conservatorship estate to pay my fees, and I am on call 24 hours per day. As a matter of law, I cannot delegate certain of my duties to another person.”

Question: What is your current hourly rate for the public guardian/conservator cases? Is it $225?


“Judge (Randy) Kennedy is well-aware that I am a lawyer. I am also a nationally certified guardian, a member of several associations of guardians, and an officer in one of them, I receive annual continuing education as both a lawyer and a guardian. As a condition of my service as public guardian, I must accept all appointments from Judge Kennedy, absent conflicts of interest, and even where the ward is unable to pay my fees or reasonable expense. I am on call 24 hours a day per day and cannot legally delegate many of my duties. My customary fees are at an hourly rate below the highest rates charged in Davidson County, Tennessee, for lawyers who also serve as conservators or who represent non-lawyer conservators. All of my fees and expenses are subject to the approval of the Probate Court of Davidson County, Tennessee, and may only be paid after the Court’s approval, regardless of the ability of the ward to pay them. In addition, my fees and expense, as well as my bank statements, receipts and cancelled checks are examined, where applicable, by the Bureau of TennCare/Medicaid of the State of Tennessee, the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and the Social Security Administration. I am also subject to random and surprise audits by the Social Security Administration. Accordingly, all my time and labor, which could otherwise be available for me to be retained as a lawyer for other clients, is obligated to the wards of the Seventh Circuit Court of Davidson County, Tennessee, and my hourly rate is based on the foregoing. Lawyers may be appointed by criminal courts to represent indigent criminal defendants and may never be compensated for their labor or expenses. I have agreed to such a condition regarding conservatorships in Davidson County, Tennessee.”

Question: Do you handle any other cases besides those assigned by Judge Kennedy? If so, what is your rate in those cases?

“I do not, as a rule, have any. I have one private case. It does not require much work. Other than that, I have not accepted any private cases in the last three years because there is simply not enough time to handle them.”

Full Article & Source:
Jeanan Mills Stuart's written responses to The Tennessean's questions

House panel debates penalties for assisted suicide

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Outlawing physician-assisted suicide in Montana would protect the elderly from being abused and keep the integrity of the medical profession intact, supporters of a bill to ban the practice told lawmakers Wednesday.
The House Judiciary Committee is considering the bill sponsored by its chairman, Republican Rep. Krayton Kerns of Laurel, to penalize the doctors and caregivers who participate in the practice.
"Basically House Bill 505 is written to target elder abuse," Kerns said. "And the fear that comes with that idea."
The Legislature has struggled with physician-assisted suicide since a 2009 state Supreme Court ruling that said nothing in state law prohibits it. The ruling effectively made Montana the third state to legalize the practice, though the lack of regulations and reporting requirements makes it impossible to know how many physician-assisted suicides have taken place.
Last week, a Senate committee tabled a bill regulating assisted suicide, just as it did during the 2011 session. Kerns' bill seeks to go in the opposite direction, outlawing rather than regulating the practice.
A similar measure also failed to receive sufficient lawmaker support in 2011.
Supporters of Kerns' bill said assisted suicide is unnecessary because end-of-life palliative care is sufficient to aid in the process of death and it may damage the medical profession.
Full Article & Source:

Police, Montana lawmakers to fight elder abuse

BILLINGS - Global stranger scams often prey on older generations, and with Montana's elderly population expected to double between now and 2030, seniors in the Treasure State are at high risk.

"We will rank fifth in the nation in the next few years as far as having the highest percentage of elderly people," explained Big Sky Senior Services Executive Director Denise Armstrong. "We are just ripe for the scam artists."

Big Sky Senior Services responds to several reports of elder abuse every week in Yellowstone County. Recently a social worker with BSSS, Linda Henry, encountered a woman who fell victim to one of those scams.

"In the last 12 months, she had paid out on three different occasions, checks anywhere from $350 to about $500 to companies that had contacted her by phone, offering to help protect her identity," explained Henry.

That scenario is far from uncommon. Of the 6,017 reports of elder abuse in Montana from 2011 to 2012, More than 20-percent were cases of exploitation.

"Unfortunately they're easy targets for financial exploitation and we see a lot of financial crimes when it comes to our seniors," explained Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito. "Especially here in Yellowstone County."

It's not always strangers who target elders, in fact more of than not the abuser is a family member.

Full Article & Source:
Police, Montana lawmakers to fight elder abuse

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How public guardian's fees added up to $13,726 in 6 months

Jeanan Mills Stuart was approved to collect $13,726 in the case of one of her wards over six months of work. The information below, based on a fee affidavit filed in court, show how costs add up for telephone calls, reviewing bank statements and receiving and making short calls on behalf of her ward.

She billed for 69.6 hours of work at $197.22 per hour.


$295.83 — Trip to nursing home to check on client, 1.5 hours

$19.72 — Telephone call re therapy, 0.1 hours


$19.72 — Review bank statement, 0.1 hours


$59.16 — Compute cost to move ward and draft reimbursement letter, 0.3 hours

$19.72 — Review ward’s bank statement, 0.1 hours


$59.16 — Review nursing home bills, telephone call to nursing home, draft letter, 0.3 hours

$19.72 — Telephone call from ward, 0.1 hours

Full Article & Source:
How public guardian's fees added up to $13,726 in 6 months

Arguments in favour of assisted suicide rely on misinformation

The case of Ruth Goodman is a perfect example of how confused, illogical, uninformed and sometimes untruthful many proponents of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide are.

Goodman killed herself on Feb. 2, with no assistance, at the age of 91 in her Vancouver home, in a bid to change physician-assisted suicide laws. If you're scratching your head right now and saying, "huh?" don't be alarmed, you are thinking clearly and are not losing your mind.

In short, Goodman's final act makes no sense. The reason this woman's last act is so strange is because everyone already has the right to die. Suicide is not illegal.

"I am a 91-year-old woman who has decided to end my life in the very near future," wrote Goodman, who had worked at an abortion clinic and was involved with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

"I do not have a terminal illness; I am simply old, tired and becoming dependent, after a wonderful life of independence," she wrote.

"By the time people read this, I will have died. I am writing this letter to advocate for a change in the law so that all will be able to make this choice."

To reiterate, everyone already can make "this choice." It's not illegal to kill yourself. No laws have to be changed. Anyone and everyone can commit suicide as long as they don't endanger anyone else while doing so.

What so-called right-to-die activists are actually seeking is the right for people to help other people to die - they want the right to kill other people and to have other people kill them, making legal what has been illegal in most sane places, since time immemorial.

In countries where euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are legal - like the Netherlands - it is documented that thousands of people have been killed involuntarily by their physicians without their consent, even when a full recovery was possible.

Alas, this illogical and discordant story about Goodman has garnered much media attention, and that in itself is disturbing when you consider another story about euthanasia that has not received any mainstream media attention.

Full Article & Source:
Arguments in favour of assisted suicide rely on misinformation

Attorney indicted for bribing witness

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19)- A local attorney has been indicted on allegations that he bribed a witness.
Gregory A. Cohen has been indicted for obstructing justice and bribery.
According to the indictment, Cohen used cash to, "corrupt a witness, or improperly influence him with respect to his testimony in an official proceeding, either before or after he was subpoenaed or sworn, promised or offered, or gave him or another person a valuable thing or valuable benefit."
Cohen is the attorney for murder suspect Lamar Simmons, who was arrested in 2011 for the 2005 murder of Jose Vazquez. Simmons was also charged with retaliation against a witness in the case. Vazquez was found dead hours after he testified in the murder case of Johnathan D. White.
Full Article & Source:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Davidson County public guardian charges lawyer fees just to run errands

Oreva Childs fought her mother's conservatorship: "This is the worst thing in life that anybody has to go through when they love somebody"

For Jeanan Mills Stuart, the public guardian for Davidson County, no job is too small.

Appointed to her post by the Metro Council, Stuart is charged with handling the affairs of people determined by the court as unable to care for themselves and without a suitable relative to step in.

But her practice of charging her lawyer fees for nonlegal tasks — bills paid directly out of her wards’ funds — has made her work at least twice as expensive as others’, according to a Tennessean review of court records.

At rates between $195 and $225 an hour, the costs for Stuart’s personal attention add up.

She billed five hours — $986 — to accompany one of her wards to a performance of Handel’s Messiah. She charged the same woman $1,282 to take her to Dillard’s, Walgreens and lunch, and for the same day, billed her $1,183 for a shopping trip to CoolSprings Galleria, according to a fee affidavit filed in court records.

At least twice, Stuart charged $400 to attend the funerals of her wards.

Full Article & Source: Davidson County public guardian charges lawyer fees just to run errands

Malpractice Case May Proceed Against New York Attorney Who Charged More Than $44,000 For Medicaid Planning To Protect Net Estate Worth $130,000

A New York appeals court allowed a case for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty to proceed against an attorney who charged more than $44,000 for Medicaid planning work to protect a net estate valued at about $130,000. Sobel v. Ansanelli, (N.Y. Sup. Ct., App. Div., 2nd Dept., No. 2011-11418, Sept. 19, 2012).

In August 2005, Mary Ellen Malone hired attorney Vincent W. Ansanelli to perform estate planning services, including asset protection, the preparation and filing of an application for Medicaid benefits, and the transfer of Ms. Malone’s cooperative apartment to her daughter, Christina Sobel. At the time Ms. Moore retained attorney Ansanelli, the total value of her assets was approximately $190,000, and she had debts of approximately $60,000.

Ms. Malone died in April 2008 and was retroactively found eligible for Medicaid in July 2008. Mr. Ansanelli sent a final invoice for the Medicaid planning work in February 2008. In total, Mr. Ansanelli charged legal fees of more than $44,000 for his services.

Full Article & Source:
Malpractice Case May Proceed Against New York Attorney Who Charged More Than $44,000 For Medicaid Planning To Protect Net Estate Worth $130,000

Nine Elected Philadelphia Traffic Court Judges Indicted for Fraud

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of Pennsylvania (January 31, 2013)-

The U.S. Federal Government charged nine elected judges along with three other individuals in a fraud conspiracy that involved a frequent and pervasive “ticket-fixing” at the Philadelphia Traffic Court. The defendants participated in a widespread culture of giving breaks on traffic citations to friends, family, the politically connected, and business associates.

According to the indictment, Philadelphia ward leaders, local politicians, and associates of the Democratic City Committee regularly contacted defendants seeking preferential treatment on specific tickets. Additionally, defendants were regularly contacted by family, friends, and associates seeking a “break” on tickets.

Tickets were “fixed” by either being dismissed, finding the ticket holder “not guilty,” or finding the ticket holder guilty of a lesser offense. In many cases, the ticket holder did not even appear in traffic court, yet his/her ticket was “fixed.” As a result, these ticketholders paid lesser or no fines and costs and evaded the assessment of “points” on their driver’s records.

The defendants allegedly used their personal assistants and courtroom staff to communicate requests to “fix tickets” to other judges. The indictment further alleges that the conspiracy also involved a cover-up that consisted of shredding paperwork, speaking in code, and trusting only certain individuals to carry out the fraud scheme.

Full Article & Source:
Nine Elected Philadelphia Traffic Court Judges Indicted for Fraud

Monday, February 18, 2013

WI: New State Law Conceals Records of Abuse, Neglect in Nursing Homes

Wahl has spina bifida, is brain damaged and paralyzed from the chest down. At age 32, he lived at a group home in Menomonie, where he loved coloring and going on picnics, said his mother, Karen Nichols-Palmerton.

One evening in October 2011, she visited the home and found her son’s room empty.

Wahl had been rushed to the hospital for treatment of a bedsore so severe that doctors feared he would be permanently bedridden.

A state health department investigation report later found he had the bedsore for four months before being hospitalized.

But the staff who cared for Wahl never sought medical attention for his wound, state investigation records show. And the facility never told the state or Nichols-Palmerton about it, as required by state law, according to state officials.

Instead, caregivers at Aurora Residential Alternatives sprinkled the bedsore with baby powder and applied antibiotic cream, watching it grow larger and more serious until it was bone-deep, records show. Nichols-Palmerton is suing Aurora for alleged negligence, seeking punitive and compensatory damages.

Joshua Wahl’s life had never been easy. But he was happy, his mother said.

Changes to Wisconsin law passed two years ago, however, mean her attorney can’t use those state investigation records as evidence in the lawsuit, which alleges a four-month pattern of neglect.

The law, which went into effect in February 2011, bars families from using state health investigation records in state civil suits filed against long-term providers, including nursing homes and hospices. It also makes such records inadmissible in criminal cases against health care providers accused of neglecting or abusing patients
The changes were included in a tort reform measure, the first bill Gov. Scott Walker proposed after Republicans swept both houses and the governor’s office in the 2010 elections.

Proponents of the law argue that its impact on the use of investigation records is minimal.

Full Article and Source:
New State Law Conceals Records of Abuse, Neglect in Nursing Homes

Nevada Judge Apologizes to State Discipline Panel

A veteran Nevada judge apologized, and a disciplinary panel agreed to issue a public reprimand to her for keeping irregular court schedule during a 2010 trial.

Clark County District Court Judge Valorie Vega acknowledged Monday to the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline in Las Vegas that she was discourteous to jurors, lawyers and court officials by keeping a jury deliberating all night at the end of a six-week trial. Vega promised it would never happen again.

The apology before the seven-member commission avoided a full-fledged hearing.

The commission unanimously found that Vega violated judicial rules.

Its reprimand will be issued later in writing. Vega also was found to have improperly recessed proceedings early six times during the trial to attend her daughter's high school soccer games.

Judge Apologizes to State Discipline Panel

Man Arrested After Making Death Threats Against Judge

An Austin man, accused of making death threat to a judge, is behind bars.

Shawn Erik Haugen, 26, is charged with retaliation, a third degree felony.

According to an arrest affidavit, Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman had taken away Haugen's ability to act on his own behalf in legal matters because of his severe schizophrenia.

Herman received a call from Haugen's public defender saying she received an angry voice mail from her client, the affidavit said. Haugen knew the judge's home address and phone number, and threatened to kill Herman, according to the affidavit.

Then Herman's wife called him stating a message was on their home answering machine also threatening the judge, police said. The family went to stay in a hotel and received police protection.

Full Article and Source:
Austin Police:  Man Arrested After Making Death Threats Against Judge

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Elder Abuse - Tracking Professional Predators

Beverly Newman, Elder Advocate, Florida, will co host this show.

Join us this evening as we update our listeners on several ongoing cases involving professional predators who are looting the estates of targeted elderly individuals. As always, the corrupt probate courts are instrumental in facillitating the imprisonment, theft of assets and harsh treatment of the elderly individuals.

Our guest this evening will be Doug Franks who has been fighting to free his mother from the harsh effects of a predatory guardianship in Pensacola, Florida.

Doug operates the Free Ernestine website listed below.
5:00 pm PST... 6:00 pm MST ... 7:00 EST ... 8:00 pm EST

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

Appellate Division Decides Not To Decide Whether Guardian Can Be Held Personally Liable For Fees Of Court-Appointed Counsel For The Ward

In Matter of Rizzo, the ward/son of an adjudicated incapacitated person appealed from a Chancery Division, Probate Part, Bergen County order that had made the ward contingently liable for the legal fees incurred by the court-appointed counsel for the incapacitated person during the guardianship proceedings. The father/ward had no liquid assets; his only asset was the equity in his home (where he and his son resided); his only income was Social Security.

During the course of the guardianship, there had been questions as to the son’s actions as the father’s agent under a power of attorney, but the chancery court ultimately had made no finding of wrongdoing by the son. However, it entered an order approving the court-appointed counsel’s fees, and then ordered that the ward/son would be personally liable for those fees if the incapacitated person’s estate was insufficient to satisfy that fee. The lower court had relied upon R. 4:86-4, which states that “The compensation of … appointed counsel … may be fixed by the court to be paid out of the estate of the alleged incapacitated person or in such other manner as the court shall direct.” (Emphasis supplied).

The ward/son appealed the order imposing personal liability on him for the court-appointed attorney’s fees. However, during the pendency of the appeal, the father died, leaving equity in the home from which the attorney’s fees could be satisfied. Consequently, the Appellate Division dismissed the appeal as moot, thereby effectively leaving the Chancery Division order undisturbed.

Appellate Division Decides Not To Decide Whether Guardian Can Be Held Personally Liable For Fees Of Court-Appointed Counsel For The Ward

See Also:
Read: In the Matter of Fred Rizzo...

A Delicate New Balancing Act in Senior Healthcare

She was 96, had heart disease and a history of falls. Now she had pneumonia and the flu. A team of Cedars specialists converged on her case to ensure that a bad situation did not turn worse and that she didn't end up with a lengthy, costly hospital stay.

Frail seniors like Gordon account for a disproportionate share of healthcare expenditures because they are frequently hospitalized and often land in intensive care units or are readmitted soon after being released. Now the federal health reform law is driving sweeping changes in how hospitals treat a rapidly growing number of elderly patients.

When Claire Gordon arrived at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, nurses knew she needed extra attention.
At Cedars-Sinai, where more than half the patients in the medical and surgical wards are 65 or older, one such effort is dubbed the "frailty project." Within 24 hours, nurses assess elderly patients for their risk of complications such as falls, bed sores and delirium. Then a nurse, social worker, pharmacist and physician assess the most vulnerable patients and make an action plan to help them.

The Cedars project stands out nationally because medical professionals are working together to identify high-risk patients at the front end of their hospitalizations to prevent problems at the back end, said Herb Schultz, regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "For seniors, it is better care, it is high-quality care and it is peace of mind," he said.

Full Article and Source:
A Delicate New Balancing Act in Senior Healthcare