Kia Franklin

Violations Reported at 94% of Nursing Homes

This is outrageous (from NYT):

More than 90 percent of nursing homes were cited for violations of federal health and safety standards last year, and for-profit homes were more likely to have problems than other types of nursing homes, federal investigators say in a report issued on Monday.

About 17 percent of nursing homes had deficiencies that caused “actual harm or immediate jeopardy” to patients, said the report, by Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Problems included infected bedsores, medication mix-ups, poor nutrition, and abuse and neglect of patients.

This is particularly alarming given the prevalence of pre-dispuite binding mandatory arbitration clauses in nursing home agreements, which basically say that any disputes (i.e., disputes over deaths and serious illness due to the abuses outlined above) go to a private arbitrator hired by the nursing home, and not to the public courts. This hides the truth from the public and very often results in severely inadequate, even nonexistent, remedies for the victim. In other words, it rigs the system and enriches nursing homes by protecting their profits and reputation even when they're being negligent or abusive. It's reprehensible. Talk about a distortion of justice.

So, are we supposed to just sit back while these abuses persist, while the nursing home industry continues to take away patients' rights to pursue adequate remedies when they're victimized? Something must be done.

Wait--something is being done. There's a bill designed to address this injustice, called the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2008.

Many individuals and organizations are standing behind this bill, including victims of nursing home abuse, their families, and their friends who remain in nursing homes, people like the friends and family of United States Army Captain, the late William Kurth. Supporters also include groups that work directly with the population groups most likely to be personally affected by the issue, organizations like the AARP and the Alzheimer's Association.

The nursing home industry opposes the bill, but perhaps this has something to do with the fact that the bill would force them to actually take responsibility for their horrendous safety track record.

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 3:07 PM, Sep 30, 2008 in Arbitration | Health Care | In the News | Increasing Safety | Mandatory Arbitration | Pro-Civil Justice Reforms | Tort Victim Tragedies | Under-regulation
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The insepctons from which the NYT article refers to are paperwork inspections and not specifically inspections of the actual facility. This is similar to JACHO inspections. These inspections are more to do with documentation than actual patient care. A classic example of this is that Medicare now mandates documented reports of decubital ulcers. If this is not documented it is considered "“actual harm or immediate jeopardy”. So nursing homes face a choice, have the staff actually spend the time to care for patients, or have them spend the time endlessly documenting. Since most of the documents must be filled out by a RN or LPN, who is actually taking care of the patients?

Posted by: throckmorton | October 1, 2008 9:23 PM

I am surprised that 6% did not have infractions. The rules are infinite in number. And no one can follow them.

For example, the land pirate on the Supreme Court declared carbon dioxide to be a pollutant, subject to EPA limitations and regulations. That means all beings using aerobic respiration are polluters every time they exhale. Kia, you are a polluter who should be subject to fines and government consent decree to stop exhaling, if you choose to settle with the EPA.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | October 2, 2008 7:10 PM