In fact, a 2014 report from the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General found that one-third of Medicare patients suffer harm while in nursing homes. It was found that 59% of the time, this harm was “clearly or likely preventable”.
Department of Justice Launches Elder Abuse Tasks Forces
The Department of Justice has taken note. The DOJ announced March 30, 2016 the launch of 10 regional tasks forces across the country “to pursue nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care to their residents.”
The DOJ states in the announcement:
“Millions of seniors count on nursing homes to provide them with quality care and to treat them with dignity and respect when they are most vulnerable… Yet, all too often we have found nursing home owners or operators who put their own economic gain before the needs of their residents.”
DOJ Takes Note as Congress and the Supreme Court Protect Nursing Homes from Accountability
This is very good news but the DOJ is a little late to recognize the problem that nursing abuse and neglect advocates including the dreaded “trial lawyers” recognized long ago. To this day, Congress and U.S Supreme Court have put hurdle after hurdle in the way of patients (too often surviving loved ones) holding nursing homes and nursing home corporations accountable in court for their atrocities.
Perhaps, the DOJ could pass the word on to Congress and the Supreme Court who have more or less rubber stamped approval of arbitration clauses that make it near impossible to get justice in these cases.
Nursing Homes Often Maze of Corporate Entities
Another good place for the DOJ and Congress to begin would be to address the fact that many nursing homes are protected by a maze of corporate entities created strictly for the purpose of evading responsibility and justice. The DOJ will likely encounter this problem right out of the gate.
Keep Up and Speak Up on Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
There are several good sources of information on this very serious and widespread problem. It is important to keep up with the issues, particularly if you have a love one in a nursing home or are considering it. If you see a problem, it is very important to speak up for your loved one and the loved ones of other families.
To keep up with the issue, ProPublica has a section dedicated to nursing home abuse. This is a very good resource including a page where you can check out nursing homes in your area prior to placing a loved one there.
To speak up and report issues, the Department of Justice also has a very good Elder Abuse site as does the Department of Health and Human Services. Likewise many states including New Mexico have elder abuse services including adult protective services.
Take Greed Out of the Equation
If indeed this gross negligence is driven by greed as the DOJ suggests, why not take greed out of the equation. To do this, would it not make sense to turn the trial lawyers loose on them. When their payouts on lawsuits begin to erode profits, perhaps they will change their practices.
To accomplish this, you can speak up generally with your Congressional representatives to let them know that is it inexcusable to protect nursing homes and nursing home corporations from justice and financial responsibility to innocent patients and families.
Seek Help from an Experienced Nursing Home/Medical Malpractice Attorney
These cases are very difficult and complex. If your loved one has been seriously harmed by the neglect or abuse of a nursing home, it is important to seek experienced legal guidance right away.
The Albuquerque attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. handle nursing home and medical malpractice cases throughout New Mexico in state and federal court. We can be reached at (505) 242-5958.