Nursing home practices that affect admission, care and services, and finances often violate the federal Nursing Home Reform Law, but Illegal or dangerous practices and safety violations commonly go undetected in nursing homes.
Hidden Practices Cause Harm to Residents
Nursing home abuse lawyers contend that many residents fall victim to illegal practices in nursing homes because they don’t have the correct facts or resources to protect their legal rights. Federal laws allow residents and their family members to participate in developing a care plan, but such laws are not well-known and often not honored. Nursing home staff is also encouraged to honor resident and family preferences for care. Feeding tubes and physical restraints are to be used as last resorts, and drugs that alter mood must be prescribed only for treatment of specific conditions. Despite federal laws, many nursing homes violate laws to increase profits and make care easier for staff, regardless of harm to residents.
Recently, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) fined Aperion Care Moline $75,000 for the death of a resident who was accidentally strangled and the escape of another resident from the facility.
When IDPH officials questioned staff about the strangulation death, it was revealed that the wrong paperwork showing a Do Not Resuscitate Order for a different resident was brought to the resident’s room. When the correct paperwork was found, it showed a Full Resuscitate Order, but it was too late. The strangulation death was blamed on the nursing home’s lack of proper care, faulty equipment, and untrained nursing aides. In the case of the resident who escaped, IDPH discovered that a wander guard alarm was placed on the resident’s arm, but it only worked through the main entrance. Surveillance cameras showed that the resident escaped through an unlocked rear door with no working alarm at 5:35 A.M.
Some nursing homes violate financial practices involving admissions and payments to increase profits. Although federal laws prohibit nursing homes from placing financial responsibilities on family members of residents, many facilities ask family members to sign as a “responsible party.” Residents who are under Medicare or Medicaid are especially vulnerable to illegal financial practices. Medicare has a limited reimbursement for nursing home care, and Medicaid pays lower rates than Medicare or private insurers.