Fines Against Negligent Nursing Homes Lowered, Endangering Patient Safety
April 23, 2019
Because of recent changes in regulations, financial penalties against negligent nursing homes are dropping, to the detriment of patient safety. In 2016, the average fine was more than $41,000, now it is $28,405. Negligent nursing homes are fined when they endanger residents or are responsible for a victim’s injuries. Opponents of the new rule, which gives a single fine for safety failures instead of the previous method of fining facilities for each day out of compliance, say that it sends the wrong message about nursing home standards and the responsibility of providing adequate patient care.
Nursing Homes in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million people live in nursing homes across the country. In addition to nursing home residents, millions of others (typically people 65-years-old and above) require other types of long-term, medical and/or support care.
Despite the fact that nursing homes are supposed to provide critical care to vulnerable and elderly patients, unacceptable cases of abuse and neglect occur far too often. Here are just a few shocking examples of the dangers that accompany nursing facilities:
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that one-third of senior citizens living in skilled nursing facilities experience “adverse or temporary harm events” (such as falls and other types of trauma, a variety of infections, acute kidney injuries, pressure ulcers, and excessive bleeding due to medication) – and nearly 60% of these events are preventable
- According to Elder Justice Roadmap, a HHS-funded initiative, there are high rates of poor care, neglect, and other adverse events in care facilities across the country;
- A 2017 CNN report uncovered more than 16,000 reports of sexual assault and abuse reported in long-term care facilities since 2000, and:
- The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that 85% of all nursing homes have at least one allegation of abuse or neglect against them
Lowering fines against negligent and abusive nursing and long-term care facilities only acts to endanger further at-risk residents. Unsurprisingly, spokespeople for nursing homes are happy about the new penalty developments. A representative or the American Health Care Association (AHCA), which is a nursing home trade group, said the new fine limits encourage problem solving instead of punishing facilities that are just trying to do what is right. However, the truth is that the safety problems have not been solved, and that every year thousands of elderly men and women experience fatal and nonfatal injuries resulting from nursing home abuse and neglect.
What is Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect – And What Are Some Warning Signs?
The main difference between nursing home abuse and neglect is the caregivers’ intent. Nursing home neglect is often the result of unintentional failures like understaffing or a lack of time and resources. Nursing home abuse however, is an active form of neglectful behavior(s) that result in injury or harm to a patient. Some common examples of nursing home abuse include threatening or berating a patient, as well as sexual and/or physical assault. Nursing home neglect is often joined by red flags like:
- Weight loss;
- A decline in hygiene, and:
- All other signs of malnourishment
If you suspect that a loved one is being physically and/or sexually assaulted at his or her long-term care or nursing facility, you should call the police right away. If you would like to learn more about how to file a nursing home abuse or neglect claim and wonder how the new limits could affect it, please contact a representative at our firm who can help answer your questions.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Victims of Nursing Home Neglect
Our personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia are experienced in representing victims of nursing home negligence. Galfand Berger has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, and we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.