The Coronavirus epidemic has wrought a reckoning to thousands of US Nursing Homes exposed for their poor infection control protocols, inadequate staffing, and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). At last count, more than 182,000 Coronavirus deaths and 1.4 million infections in the US are linked to nursing homes. In eight states, at least half of Covid deaths are linked to nursing homes – Massachusetts, Oregon, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and North Dakota. You might think that regulators would have seen these frightening statistics as a wake-up call to scrutinize operations at nursing homes.
Unfortunately, not so much. As it currently stands over half of U.S. nursing homes are overdue for certification inspections.
According to CNHI News (formerly Community Newspaper Holdings), a review of federal records show that more than half of nursing homes that received federal reimbursement have operated for at least 18 months without required in-person recertification inspections. Instead of the multi-day and intense inspections that federal regulators used to do, regulators have recently been doing half-day reviews of infection control practices and staffing logs.
If you thought that things were terrible during the Coronavirus epidemic (which, of course, is still with us), the lack of federal oversight bodes poorly for both the current and future health and safety of nursing home residents. Knowing nursing home management as well as we do at York Law Firm, based on decades of experience with the industry, it is evident to us that facilities always cut corners when no one is watching. Understaffing leads to over-medication, which leads to neglect, which leads to medical complications, which leads to avoidable but premature death. It’s happening right now.
Why are so many Nursing Homes overdue for certification?
As skilled nursing facilities are starting to re-open to visitors, we encourage families to scrutinize operations. Do nurses come when they’re called, or are they slow to answer? Are residents left alone for hours at a time? Are bed-ridden seniors regularly moved and given physical therapy to avoid pressure sores and contractures? Has your relative recently been given new prescriptions to sedate and tranquilize them?
Even years before the Coronavirus, twenty-one states failed to meet CMS’s timeliness threshold for the second-most serious level of complaints. Until federal regulators start showing up unannounced at nursing homes again, it’s safe to say that abuses are likely a regular occurrence. The only deterrent at this point is family vigilance; we can’t count on the government to keep our seniors safe right now, so it’s all on us to step up and do our part.
There is no good reason so many nursing homes overdue for certification should exist.
If you see signs of abuse or neglect, please call our office, and talk with one of our trained staff. The federal regulators may be out to lunch right now, but we’re still here, and we’ll do whatever we can to help you protect your loved ones.
Attorney Wendy York of York Law Firm specializes in prosecuting nursing home abuse, elder abuse and wrongful death cases in California. If you or a loved one are in need of legal assistance please contact Wendy York today.