Nursing Home Liability for Patient Neglect
Discussion on the quality of care in America’s nursing homes. A must read for all with family members in intermediate care.
Nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities are entrusted with the duty to take care of our elderly and disabled family members. These licensed skilled nursing facilities are required to follow regulations as to the quality of patient care they provide. Unfortunately, it has been reported for a period of over two decades that many of these institutions are failing to meet these safety standards. At SUGARMAN, we have seen the tragic results of these failures – bed sores, falls, overmedication and dehydration, to name but a few examples, which have resulted in disabling injuries and even death. Although nursing home liability cases are often defended on the grounds that damages are limited because the injured person has exceeded his or her statistical life expectancy, the focus in these cases is properly on the dignity of the patient – regardless of age – and the failure to deliver that quality of care to which the patient, and all patients in skilled nursing facilities, are entitled.
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, over 5% of the 65+ population currently resides in nursing homes or other skilled nursing facilities. Of the baby boom generation, it is expected that 5% or 3.9 Million people will eventually be cared for by these facilities on either a short or long-term basis. It is critically important that we focus on the ongoing care deficiencies in nursing homes so as improve the overall quality of care before the nursing home resident population explodes.
For decades, poor quality patient care has been an enduring feature of American nursing homes. Regulators are required to inspect these facilities annually to determine whether minimal standards are being met, and to investigate complaints of deficiencies. According to data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the profit-making nursing home industry generally provides fewer nurses, sometimes below minimum legal requirements, and poorer quality of care than non-profit homes. Large private investment groups now own most of the country’s largest nursing home chains, making it difficult to enforce regulations and to levy against negligent entities.
See The New York Times article, At Many Homes, More Profit and Less Nursing.
Patients of nursing homes and skilled care facilities have a right to expect good quality care which promotes their dignity and well-being, regardless of their health or age. These licensed facilities, most of them for-profit, are required to meet minimal standards of care in order to be in business. They should be held accountable when their failure to meet these requirements results in preventable injury or death to those whose care has been entrusted to them.