Nursing Homes/Rehabilitation Facilities are regulated by the Federal Government. Despite this oversight, nursing home neglect and abuse continues to harm the elderly and infirm. Under these Federal regulations, if a nursing home is repeatedly cited for violations regarding the care of their residents, the nursing home can be designated as a “special focus facility.” This classification means the facility must undergo more frequent inspections by the overseeing government agency. If the nursing home continues to fail these inspections, it can be stripped of Federal funding by Medicare, or State funding by Medicaid. The majority of nursing homes cannot operate without Medicare and Medicaid funding.
Despite these regulations, the quality of care in nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities has not improved. A study in 2014 looked at the 528 facilities that had received this “special focus” status and discovered that once inspections were completed and the special classification was removed, fifty two percent (52%) of these facilities resumed their abusive behavior and/or neglectful care of their patients.
This study included nursing homes located across 46 states. The report revealed that patients were administered wrong medications, residents were attacked by staff, and patients were injured and/or died from medical negligence (i.e. dangerous decubitus ulcers (bedsores), preventable falls, lack of registered nurses, insufficient staffing, etc.) The nursing homes that failed their inspections a second time were not placed back on the “special focus” watch list. Instead, they were merely issued fines for the continuing violations.
In 2010, NMS Healthcare of Hagerstown, Maryland was removed from the special watch list after having been on it for 10 months. In 2016, Maryland’s Attorney General filed suit against the facility and its’ owner for evicting frail, infirm, and mentally disabled residents when their health coverage was depleted, or the nursing home had potential patients with more lucrative insurance. In 2017 NMS Healthcare closed its’ Hagerstown location after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found the facility to be out of compliance. The lawsuit is still pending.
Over the last 15 years, nursing home verdicts and settlements have increased substantially for victims and/or their surviving families. Even in states such as Maryland where there are caps (or limits) on pain and suffering damages, settlements on cases involving serious injury or death from decubitus ulcers (bedsores) have been obtained on behalf of victims and/or their families ranging from $300,000 – $600,000. Settlement value of these cases increases further where there are substantial economic damages involved (such as large medical bills related to the injuries the facility caused, or lost wages where the resident was in the facility for rehabilitation and had planned on returning to work.)
In Arkansas, a nursing home resident died after suffering over the course of two years from serious malnutrition, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, dehydration resulting in kidney failure, and 35 bed sores. The jury returned a verdict of $7 million. Verdicts and settlements vary from state to state and depend on multiple individual case factors.
Nursing home cases require experienced nursing home attorneys. At Hirsch & Cosca, we have the experience to help you. We know that making the decision to entrust the care of a loved one to an assisted living, nursing home, or rehabilitation facility is a difficult and emotional experience. It is a decision that is made with the absolute best of intentions to ensure your loved one is getting everything they need, that the family can no longer provide on their own.
The hope, and expectation, is that these facilities will provide their residents with appropriate medical care, social engagement, and assistance with daily living needs. When they don’t, it may be necessary to enlist the services of experienced nursing home abuse attorneys that can help ensure your loved ones get justice for the substandard care given by these facilities. At Hirsch & Cosca, we are ready to help you. For additional information, call 301-818-1000, or click https://www.hcinjurylaw.com/nursing-home-abuse-attorneys/.
Article by Hirsch & Cosca law firm.