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Election race draws focus on nursing home medical malpractice

The current election race for Illinois state governor has drawn attention to the plight of residents in nursing homes. Recently, it has come to light that Republican candidate Bruce Rauner once shared ownership in a chain of long-term nursing homes involved in a series of lawsuits for wrongful death and other patient injuries.

An advocate of the gubernatorial candidate points out that Rauner technically did not participate in the day-to-day operations of the company, but instead he sat on the board of its controlling private equity firm. Either way, Rauner's connection to the embattled nursing home is proving problematic to his election campaign.

The allegations of wrongdoing at nursing homes under Rauner's watch are extensive and go back many years. A review of court cases, state records and other material gathered from media sources indicate a pattern of sexual assaults, living conditions described as deplorable and a host of other deficiencies.

One lawsuit in particular against the nursing home chain claims that a resident suffered a heart attack and died after being assaulted by another resident in a shared recreational area. In fact, the facility was so bad that it prompted the Texas Attorney General's office to attempt to legally gain control of the facility from the nursing home chain.

In April 2004 a magazine in Arizona labeled a $45.5 million judgment against the company as one of the largest in the previous decade. The lawsuit they were referring to stems from the 2001 death of a woman with developmental disabilities who resided in a home run by the company.

When most people think of medical malpractice they imagine a doctor's office or a hospital. Sadly, medical malpractice also happens far too frequently in our nation's nursing homes. Inadequately trained staff, poor oversight, and overcrowded facilities are a recipe for medical professional negligence within the nursing home industry.

Family members with loved ones who have been injured while in the care of a nursing home should know that they may be eligible to sue to recover compensation for their medical costs and pain and suffering. However, it is important to act quickly to preserve evidence and testimony of witnesses before their usefulness degrades over time.

Source: The Southern Illinoisian, "Rauner-owned company linked to deaths, assaults, legal action" Kurt Erickson, Jul. 18, 2014

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