Several state, local, and federal health codes govern nursing homes and long-term care facilities. When a facility is found to have committed numerous violations, the government often classifies these homes as special focus facilities. These facilities are supposed to be monitored more closely to ensure that they show improvement. Unfortunately, as soon as the agency withdraws after seeing improvement, facilities often go back to their old ways.
Many nursing homes rely primarily on Medicare and Medicaid for their stream of revenue. When a home receives violations, the owner can lose state and federal funding through Medicare and Medicaid. Often, homes that have been deemed “special focus facilities” tell inspectors that they have turned over a new leaf, and will work overtime to meet the demands placed on them by the agency. Sadly, as soon as the agency reduces oversight many of the harmful practices recur.
Studies have shown that few of the homes placed on special focus status ever lose Medicare or Medicaid funding, even though nearly half of them are repeatedly placed on the special focus list. One study has found that out of 528 homes placed under regulatory oversight, 275 were later found to have engaged in abusive behavior or patient neglect, resulting in injury or harm.
Ninety-two percent of nursing homes have committed violations. This makes it easy to understand why local, state, and federal regulatory bodies do not have the resources to stop all violations. A big part of the problem is that facilities are increasingly prioritizing profit over patient care. Board members and owners desire profit that can result in understaffing, leading to violations ranging from unsanitary conditions to patient neglect. Nursing homes that operate for profit have taken over. Fines incurred are treated simply as a cost of doing business, and used as an excuse not to have adequate staff. Industry guidelines suggest that nursing homes should employ at least one nurse for every six patients, but in many facilities, that ratio can skyrocket to one nurse for every 20 patients.
Moreover, budget cuts have resulted in a limit on the number of homes that can be assigned special focus status. The government cannot remediate every violation, so agencies are resigned to dealing only with the most egregious offenders.
Placing your loved one in a nursing home is often not an easy decision. If you believe that your loved one is receiving substandard care or you suspect that they are being abused or neglected, contact our experienced South Jersey nursing home abuse lawyers at Williams Cedar. Often, elderly patients do not have the ability or capacity to speak out against abuse or neglect, and rely on friends and visitors to speak up on their behalf. We fight for the most vulnerable victims to receive the care that they deserve. Call us today at 856-874-7500, or complete our online contact form. Our offices are centrally located in Haddonfield, New Jersey and Philadelphia, and we proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and nationwide.