Nursing Home Practice Puts Patient's Lives at Risk

An investigation into nursing homes in one state has uncovered a startling trend. In emergency situations, nursing home employees are commonly refusing to call 911, but rather calling hired help miles away.

For one woman who suffered a heart attack at in a nursing home on March 5, the emergency transportation guidelines failed her. A friend of the woman was by her side when she started gasping for breath.  She says the ambulance was a no-show. She was escorted out of the room and left to wait for nearly an hour. There was no immediate ambulance ride from the nursing home to a nearby hospital until it was too late.

Investigators discovered that the nursing home had never called 911 who could have had paramedics at the facility in five minutes. Instead, the facility called the private ambulance company it hired as a private contractor. Records indicate that the company was called at 8:15 and while they only had one crew working the area,  they scrambled another crew from downtown headquarters still more than 20 minutes away. After the contracted medical transport arrived on the scene, a dispatcher from the company decided that they needed to call 911.

The 911 team arrived shortly but by the time the patient made it to the hospital it was too late. The practice is not uncommon for nursing homes to call non emergency transport for emergency situations. The American Heart Association says patients are most likely to survive cardiac arrest if they receive appropriate care within 4-6 minutes. For more, read the story.


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.

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