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History of Nursing Home Regulations

In 1965 Medicare and Medicaid came into existence and with it came federal regulation of nursing homes. Nursing homes that qualify and voluntarily elect Medicare and Medicaid to their facility must follow a set of guidelines put forth by federal standards.

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Nursing Home Reform Act

The nursing home facilities that receive federal funds are required to comply with the Nursing Home Reform Act.

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NURSING HOME ABUSE NEWS STORIES
 

Nursing Home Abuse News

October 19, 2003
Nursing home abuse owner criminal prosecution appears to be on the rise

Federal official believe inadequate staffing is the biggest cause of nursing home abuse neglect in facilities. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that 9 out of 10 nursing homes employ too few workers to provide adequate care, and over 40% of all homes need to increase their nurse aide staff by at least 50%.

Congress is considering legislation that would establish federal criminal penalties for nursing home abuse and neglect. If convicted, it could result in prison terms for individuals, in addition to corporate fines of up to $3 million. The nursing home abuse and neglect bill would also require the homes immediately report any reasonable suspicion of a crime to law enforcement officials.

According to a member of the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, criminal prosecution of nursing home abuse owners appears to be increasing.

Recent nursing home abuse cases include:

Florida Nursing Home Abuse:
In September 2003, owners of the Jewish Senior Living home in West Palm Beach were charged with eight counts of nursing home abuse neglect. Just days before that, owners in Riviera Beach were arrested and charged with three counts of neglect.

Georgia Nursing Home Abuse:
In February 2003, an owner of a nursing home pleaded guilty to 15 counts of nursing home abuse and neglect. She was sentenced to 15 years probation and 500 hours of community service.

Hawaii Nursing Home Abuse:
In 2002, prosecutors got a manslaughter conviction against a nursing home after a resident died of septic shock because bedsore infections had continued to go untreated.

Louisiana Nursing Home Abuse:
Owners of a nursing home agreed to pay $750,000 and to quit the nursing home business for seven years after federal prosecutors considered criminal charges because an 87-year old woman was strangled by a wheelchair seat belt.

Michigan Nursing Home Abuse:
In April 2003, a Detroit nursing home medical director and nursing director were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the heat-related death of a resident. The prosecutors alleged the nursing home lacked air condition and fans and the windows would not open.

Missouri Nursing Home Abuse:
In February 2003, a nursing home management company president was sentenced to a year in prison for failing to report the beating death of a nursing home resident. In August 2003, another home manager was charged with involuntary manslaughter in a mentally disabled nursing home resident’s death.

New York Nursing Home Abuse:
At the start of October 2003, a New York nursing home chain agreed to pay the state $3 million to settle claims that the homes failed to provide adequate care to nursing home patients. By agreeing to settle the claims of nursing home abuse, the owners were able to avoid criminal charges that had come from a grand jury investigation after reports of testimony of nursing home employees.

In June 2003, the Hallmark Nursing Centre chain pleaded guilty to criminal charges, including inadequate care, falsification of patient files, and deliberately employing too few caregivers to meet resident needs leading the New York nursing home owners to agree to refrain from operating any New York nursing homes.

September 2, 2003 BREAKING NEWS!!
Increase in nursing home abuse lawsuits indicate the push for change
In the past, finding a nursing home abuse lawyer to accept a case was tough for families wanting to get justice for the abuse their loved ones had endured, or tragically had not endured. The increase in nursing home abuse lawsuits is not due to “sue happy” people rather the knowledge that a high incidence of nursing home abuse is occurring and families want immediate changes to be made.

The uncovering of a nationwide problem of how elders are treated in care facilities has resulted in nursing home abuse being on the forefront of many lawmakers priority lists to change. The high number of baby boomers next to be the ones to have to deal with nursing home care first hand is large. As one nursing home abuse victim’s family stated, “I sued to get them to treat nursing home patients better. We’ve got to make it better for the next generation: ours,” (boston.com 9/2/03).

The largest nursing home abuse jury verdict was awarded to a Texas family in 2001. The son of a woman sued after nursing home abuse neglect was so severe that she suffered 16 bed sores, including some bed sores so bad that they penetrated to the bone. Initially awarded $312 million, the family agreed to accept $20 million in settlement to stop the appeal process that the nursing home had been planning. For more information on nursing home abuse contact us to confer with a nursing home abuse lawyer.

June 9, 2003
Nursing home location determines likelihood of abuse. A Gannett News Service (GNS) investigation on the nation’s nursing homes has concluded that depending on what areas of the nation is very dependent on the type of care that the elders can expect to receive. Most instances of the most severe nursing home abuse reports over the past four years have occurred in about 12 concentrated states. In addition, the for-profit nursing homes were found to have more instances of nursing home abuse occurrences than nonprofit and government nursing homes.

The GNS findings have come from four-months of investigation, including interviewing and analysis of four years worth of federal data on 16,000 of the nation’s nursing homes. Based on the findings, the nation’s solution for putting an end to the nursing home abuse reports holding 1.5 million elders will not come easily. Individual states and the nation as a whole are currently trying to pass new bills that will better ensure nursing home abuse come to an end.

Consumer advocates have stated that the GNS results are not surprising. Repeat violations of nursing home abuse has been a contributing factor to the high nursing home abuse incidence, and despite new quality and information efforts supplemented by years of legislation and regulation to protect residents, far too many people are being adversely affected by nursing home abuse. The 12 states that were found to have the highest number of severe and repeated violations from 1999-2003 include:

  • Texas nursing home abuse
  • Illinois nursing home abuse
  • Arkansas nursing home abuse
  • Washington nursing home abuse
  • New Jersey nursing home abuse
  • Kansas nursing home abuse
  • Missouri nursing home abuse
  • Indiana nursing home abuse
  • Oklahoma nursing home abuse
  • North Carolina nursing home abuse
  • Mississippi nursing home abuse
  • Tennessee nursing home abuse

Some instances of the nursing home abuse indicated widespread problems in care. Please contact us to confer with a nursing home abuse attorney.

June 2003
Cap on Alabama nursing home abuse wrongful deaths. The House of Representatives for wrongful death Alabama nursing home abuse lawsuits approved a $1.5 million damage cap. The Alabama nursing home abuse cap is now at the top of the propose work agenda’s in the House, but the Senate will need to agree with the House changes. As expected, nursing homes did support the bill and consumer advocacy groups and individual victims felt that caps will not provide justice.

For instances of serious and sever Alabama nursing home abuse cases, the $1.5 million cap may not even cover medical bills and treatment, causing additional suffering. According to the Alabama Watch director, “When you place caps on these awards, you’re telling senior citizens that their lives are of little value.”


March 6, 2003

Risks of nursing home abuse are still considered to be on the rise. The head of the Elder Safe program at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office has seen the number of nursing home abuse cases referred to the district attorney’s office drastically increase. Since experts estimate that eight out of 10 instances of nursing home abuse are not reported, the outlook looks bleak.

March 6, 2003
State senators reject proposals to allow video cameras in nursing home facilities. In order to prevent more instances of nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect, some people thought amending House Bill 1077 by allowing “granny cams” could be beneficial, however State senators rejected the proposal. Instead, the House Bill 1077 will strengthen procedures used for background checks and for health care workers. Many of the nation’s nursing home abuse problems have stemmed from improper nursing home employees that often times had previous record of abuse at other facilities but were still hired. Currently, the Health Department can take weeks or months to complete background checks and the House Bill amendment is headed to conference so that the legislation can be decided on.


February 19, 2003
House approves controversial bill limiting jury awards against nursing home abuse. The House approved a controversial bill in Arkansas that would limit jury awards against nursing homes. The bill was asked to not be sent immediately to the Senate in order to allow any consideration of further amendments. If passed, the bill would limit punitive damages to $1 million and has a provision that would require lawyers to prove that a specific act was committed against their client. Some House members against the bill felt that it “strikes a blow at the absolute weakest among us” and that it is “fundamentally wrong and unfair.”

February 18, 2003
Nursing homes request a lid be put on nursing home abuse lawsuit awards. Nursing home facilities claim that with the additional insurance premiums they are unable to pay for the hefty jury awarded sum due to instances of nursing home abuse. The nursing homes want a lid on jury awards given to the injured and neglected patients. This has angered elderly advocate groups that argue the nursing home abuse civil suits are the only protection that many states offer victims of nursing home abuse. While laws put into place in certain states are intended to better protect victims of nursing home abuse, nursing homes think that they make them lawsuit targets.

Advocates argue the other side noting estimates have shown according to a U.S. General Accounting Office report, over 30% of nursing home have been cited for such serious violations that residents were harmed or were put in immediate jeopardy. Advocates think that nursing homes are using the increase in insurance rates as a means to destroy the elder-abuse protection act. Pursuing a nursing home abuse lawsuit is already an expensive and difficult legal battle to fight according to advocates and judges reduce most big jury judgments.

May 28, 2002
Nursing home abuse has become an increasingly large problem in this nation identified by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft as "one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S." Recently, the Senate Aging Committee chairman wanted to have criminal background checks from nursing home workers and expanded powers for the government to try to reduce the high number of reported nursing home abuse incidents that occur on a widespread scale. Senator John Breaux feels that, "we have an obligation to protect the fastest-growing segment of the population" when proposing his legislation at a hearing on financial exploitation of older people.

An expansive investigation has found increasing nursing home abuse and has found that as many as four out of five nursing home abuse incidents go unreported in addition to the over half a million nursing home abuse cases that are reported to state adult protection agencies. Breaux attributes nursing home abuse problems, in part, to the fact there is no federal worker whose full-time job is to protect seniors from abuse and that "no one really is in charge of this area." A survey that is currently underway has found 375,000 instances of nursing home abuse occurs every year, and this survey has only included the numbers from 24 of the states that have reported so far.

Breaux's proposed bill would include:

  • Create new offices in the Justice and Health and Human Services departments that would help conduct the background checks, coordinate government programs, issue reports and aid in training law enforcement.
  • Require long-term care facilities to immediately report suspected crimes to law enforcement, with fines for noncompliance ranging up to $100,000.
  • Mandate criminal background checks for all staff members in long-term care facilities.
  • Make facilities receiving federal payments give a 45-day notice to regulators before shutting down and abandoning residents.
  • Seek training of bank personnel to recognize when something is amiss in an elderly person's account.
  • Create a federal information center on elder abuse, with a Web site to educate the public.
August 8, 2001
A congressional report was released showing numerous reports of serious physical, sexual, and verbal nursing home abuse among the nation's nursing homes. The study was prepared by the minority (Democratic and Independent) staff of the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee. The report also found that 30 percent of nursing homes in the U.S., including 5,283 facilities, were cited for about 9,000 instances of abuse over a recent two-year period from January 1999 to January 2001. Common instances of nursing home abuse included untreated bedsores, inadequate medical care, malnutrition, dehydration, preventable accidents, and inadequate sanitation and hygiene.

July 30, 2001
A common feeling amongst elders in the U.S. is the dread of living in a nursing home. Eighty-three percent of elderly Americans would stay in their homes until the end if they could, and thirty percent say they would rather die than reside in a nursing home. The fear of living in a nursing home is not surprising after nursing home inspection documents showed that more than a quarter of American nursing homes were repeatedly cited for serious violations that caused death or injury to patients. California showed a third of the nursing homes were cited for causing serious harm or death to patients.

April 23, 2001
A growing challenge facing the nation is the effectiveness at preventing the problem of nursing home abuse that has become far too common. Forty out of fifty states now have task forces to address the issue of nursing home abuse that has continued to worsen as the demand for nursing homes continues to increase. An assistant professor of public policy, Susan Eaton, has studied the link between human resource personnel management and the quality of patient care in nursing homes. Eaton attributes the quality problems to under staffing and poor management practices.

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August 3, 1998
A written statement that was provided to the Senate Special Committee on Aging described a nursing home resident that while suffering a degenerative brain disease was found with bruises, bedsores and a broken pelvis within months after her 1995 arrival at the Orangetree Convalescent Hospital by her daughter. The daughter was quoted as saying in her official account that "She always seemed to be starving or begging for water." The nursing home resident died after reports showed she had choked on her food, but the daughter planned on telling the committee that her mother was supposed to be fed through a tube. The nursing home denied any wrongdoing.

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Nursing Home Abuse Recent News Stories

March 15, 2002
According to the Senate committee on aging, nursing home abuse is up 20% from last year. Instances of nursing home abuse can include neglect, as a Michigan nursing home resident died after wandering off outside and froze to death.

(MSNBC)