When choosing where to place a loved one in a nursing home, it can be overwhelming to evaluate all the possible options. You may be considering a variety of factors, such as price, services offered, the size of the nursing home, and any possible history the nursing home may have with abuse or neglect.
It is very important to get as much information on a nursing home's state evaluations and their responses to any complaints or violations of state code. This information can show you the nursing home's attention to detail and to protecting their residents, but can also reveal how seriously the institution takes situations which might potentially cause harm. Proactive nursing homes, or ones that respond comprehensively and quickly to violations, will most likely work the hardest to protect your loved one's health and happiness.
Nursing Homes in Philadelphia
There are almost 100 nursing homes in the Philadelphia greater metropolitan area which has received a five-star rating from the federal regulating agency, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). In Pennsylvania, nursing homes are regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Health which reports back to CMS. Like nursing homes across the country, however, abuse and neglect are real and present possibilities. Examples of abuse in long-term care facilities in Philadelphia show how these problems permeate communities and demand to be addressed both on a case by case basis and systematically.
Half of Nursing Homes Deficient
One investigation performed by a local newspaper concluded in late 2016 that around one-half of nursing homes in the state of Pennsylvania had received an “administrative order for serious deficiencies jeopardizing the health and safety of residents” over the past two decades. This amounts to around 400 nursing homes in the state that have been subject to state punishment, ranging from fines to suspension or revocation of licenses between 1997 and 2016.
An attorney working in Philadelphia stated that this data means “You have a 50-50 chance of going into a nursing home that's been cited for poor service.” This study was one of the first long-term studies on nursing home regulation that had been completed; most studies focus on shorter time periods, such as 2-3 years. The newspaper concluded that “Pennsylvania Department of Health permitted a lax regulatory environment over the past two decades that has tolerated poor care of the state's most frail citizens.”
Collecting Medicare Payments without Providing Services
The Attorney General of Pennsylvania has taken steps against various nursing home chains in the state when they have failed to provide adequate services to residents while still accepting Medicaid money from the government. For example, in late 2016, a lawsuit was filed against Grane Healthcare Co., a nursing home chain with 11 facilities in the state of Pennsylvania. The nursing homes were receiving between $5,970 to $7,680 per month per resident from a combination of Medicaid and family payments.
The state's lawsuit states that “Grane facilities advertised and marketed to consumers that they strive for a very high staff-to-patient ratio and base staffing on patient acuity levels,” but that “this conduct was deceptive, misleading and unfair.” In fact, the complaint states a wide variety of violations and neglect in the nursing homes, including malnutrition, understaffing leading to lack of hygiene, inappropriate use of physical and chemical restraints, and failure to reposition immobile residents with sufficient frequency, leading to the potential development of bedsores.
Drop in Penalties for Nursing Homes
Data compiled by another news organization reveals that oversight of Pennsylvania nursing homes in the past 14 years has been declining. They note that, in 2003, the Pennsylvania Department of Health inspectors issued 171 penalties to nursing homes for violations. These penalties included fines and “provisional licenses,” which put greater oversight on nursing homes with potentially dangerous situations. In 2012, by contrast, only 2 similar penalties were applied to nursing homes in the state.
Since 2012, the number of penalties has begun to rise slowly, but they are still drastically lower than they were in the early 2000s. Although some argue that this trend may be due to an improving quality of care in nursing homes, others say that oversight has suffered in the past decade. A Philadelphia attorney working in the field notes that he has “no indication from either federal data or his own organization's experience that nursing home quality has improved over the past decade.”
46 Deaths in Two Years
PennLive recently conducted an investigation into care-related deaths in nursing homes between 2013 and 2015 in Pennsylvania. They found, by scouring the thousands of online inspection reports published by the Department of Health, that 46 elderly residents had passed away in long-term care facilities due to adverse incidents related to the quality of care. The study also found that the majority of these deaths (32 out of 46) occurred in for-profit nursing homes.
The report includes various instances of neglect, including “a diabetic resident who wasn't given insulin, a resident with Down's syndrome who died after his ventilator became disconnected and staff didn't respond to the alarm for nearly an hour, residents with swallowing problems who choked after being given the wrong foods, and unsupervised residents with dementia who wandered out of nursing homes and fatally injured themselves,” among other scenarios.
Protecting Philadelphia Nursing Home Residents
If you have experienced the trauma of realizing that a loved one has been neglected or abused in a long-term care facility, you may be wondering how to take action. While regulating bodies do their best to ensure that nursing home residents are cared for, often they are understaffed due to budget restraints, and situations can slip under the radar. Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work with you and your loved one to address the elder abuse and the litany of emotional and physical problems that may accompany that abuse. For a free consultation on your case, contact them today at 800.529.6162 or online.