According to a recent report from the New York Times, more than 90% of nursing homes violated federal health and safety standards last year, and for-profit nursing homes were the most frequent violators. "For-profit nursing homes have higher average number of deficiencies than other types of nursing homes," said Daniel R. Levinson of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Deficiencies involved the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers (pressure sores, bedsores, bed sores, decubitus ulcers), medication errors, malnutrition, and other forms of abuse and neglect.
The DHHS recently issued a compliance guide that stated some nursing homes "have systematically failed to provide staff in sufficient numbers and with appropriate clinical expertise to serve the residents." In some cases, nursing homes billed Medicare and Medicaid for services that were not provided. In other cases, nursing homes improperly classified the medical conditions of some patients as more severe than they were so the facilities would be collect more money under a Medicare payment system that reimburses the facilities more for taking care of sicker patients.
One person who commented on the New York Times article responded to this story much better than I could: "The statistics may be imperfect, but the story is well known: Facing defenseless captive customers, perfect strangers, the owner of an average nursing home in our country may not fear god or jail." We shouldn't lose faith in the civil justice system, which I think was created so those who truly don't fear God or jail can still be required to answer for their wrongs and taste justice.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.
Posted on Tue, September 30, 2008
by Robert Carter