February 12, 2013

Nursing Home Employees: Contact an Attorney to Speak Up Against Neglect

by Levin & Perconti

Caregivers in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are often painted as the wrongdoers in cases involving mistreatment of elderly residents. That is unfair. In many cases those employees work day in and day out to provide to best care possible but are limited in their ability by administrative decisions that lead to understaffing, lack of training, and limits on available resources for residents.

In fact, many times it is the nursing home employees who are the first ones to speak up for neglected residents. These caregivers may report chronic problems at the home or share examples of co-workers who intentionally abuse or neglect residents. All too often, those warnings from employees fall on deaf ears. In an effort to cover up a problem and just make it go away, facility administrators ignore the complaints. In the worst cases they may even punish the nursing home employee who brought the problem to light.

All of us working to limit senior abuse understand the important role that diligent nursing home aides and nurses play in providing acceptable care. Those care workers should understand their legal rights in these situations.

“Whistleblower Lawsuits” for Nursing Home Workers
One option is a federal action to hold the facility accountable under the False Claims Act. Officially known as “Qui Tam” lawsuits, these are essentially “whistleblower” actions, where an individual which knowledge of the situation (i.e an employee) comes forward to admit to fraudulent practices in an effort to hold the facility accountable and ensure changes are made.

The idea behind these cases is usually fraud pursuant to Medicare and Medicare rules. To receive federal funds for long term care via the Medicare and Medicaid problems, nursing homes must abide by the federal guidelines set forth by the government. Those guidelines include limits on what can be billed and why. In addition, the facility must actually be providing adequate care to justify the basic rate they receive day for providing help to the senior.

Nursing Home Fraud or Neglect
In practical terms, these whistleblower lawsuits usually take one of two forms. In some cases, the fraud may result from billing practices. Perhaps the home is submitting bills for a higher “per diem” rate than is appropriate. This often occurs when a residents receives (or is billed) for special rehabilitation services that they do not need. Some homes will claim that residents need extra care (even though they do not) in order to receive more taxpayer funds.

Alternatively, a second form of the lawsuit may stem from outright chronic negligence. If residents throughout the home are neglected day in and day out--not receiving the medical care they need--then fraud may be committed. In these cases the nursing home is essentially not providing the basic care that they are paid to provide. This violates the law and may give rise to a whistleblower lawsuit if an employee comes forward to explain the situation

If you are an employee of a nursing home and know of chronic problems at the facility which may violate federal laws, please contact our Illinois nursing home whistleblower lawyers today to learn more. The law ensures that those who come forward are incentivized for actions, so please take the time to visit with our office today.

See Other Blog Posts:

Advisors Shares Stories of Elder Financial Abuse

Excessive Medication Common in Nursing Homes