In 1987, Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) in response to the increasing reports of abuse and neglect in elder care facilities. OBRA provides that care to our elders must be administered in accordance with established nursing home and regulatory agency protocols. OBRA places a premium on the resident’s quality of life, as well as the quality of care that they receive. However, incidents of abuse and neglect in nursing homes continue to be reported at alarming rates. Also, many more instances go unreported. If you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, it is necessary to contact a Massachusetts nursing home abuse lawyer right away.
Dorothy Byrd, a 98-year-old woman, was a resident at South Holland Homes, an assisted living facility in Chicago, Illinois. On February 2, 2015, Talisha Lillard, a nurse at the facility, allegedly administered an unprescribed dose of morphine that lowered Byrd’s ability to breathe. Byrd was allegedly in no pain, but because she was overmedicated, she suffered severe respiratory distress. This distress caused her to be hospitalized the following day. On February 4, 2015, Byrd died. Her death was ruled a homicide by toxic levels of morphine and hydrocodone.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Byrd’s daughter, Sandra Byrd Peterson, has filed a lawsuit against the South Holland Homes and Lillard alleging elder abuse and neglect. Byrd Peterson seeks damages in excess of $50,000. The lawsuit also alleges that Holland Homes failed to ensure that Lillard had a valid nursing license and hired her less than two weeks before Byrd’s death. Furthermore, Byrd Peterson alleges that her mother and six other patients were given morphine to ease the burden of the understaffed nurses. A criminal investigation is also ongoing regarding Byrd’s death, as well as six other patients, who were allegedly all given non-prescribed doses of morphine on the same night. Two patients who were prescribed the morphine died; however, the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled their deaths occurred from natural causes. Attorney Thomas Paris is representing Baird Peterson in this case.