Last month, AARP Texas released a report entitled Intolerable Care – a snapshot of the Texas nursing home quality crisis. Their findings revealed the sad reality of what is happening in nursing homes in Texas and elsewhere: poor care, abuse and neglect is allowed to persist because of insufficient oversight and policies that enable owners and administrators instead of the elderly and disabled.
The report shows that out of 17,466 state violations between 9/2014 and 9/2015, the state of Texas only pursued action in 40 cases. This statistic alone is enough to to spark concern, but added to the fact that many of the nearly 18,000 violations were against facilities that had already been reported as violating state nursing home laws. Another stunning fact? Many of the violations reported to the state were for actions that could ‘immediately’ harm residents of a facility. Among the violations, the most common was medication errors and the second was for staff treatment of residents.
Why Do the Same Facilities Keep Making the List?
The authors of the AARP Texas report note that there are two laws that are perpetuating the cycle of bad care. The first is a ‘right to correct’ law that allows facilities a period of time to correct any violations noted by the state. The second is a law that forces the state (along with a handful of others) to hand over assignment of financial penalties to the federal government. The first law basically gives facilities a get out of jail free card. If the state surveys a facility and sees violations (including those that put residents in imminent danger), the facility is able to correct the problem in time for another survey. It isn’t difficult to see how this rule doesn’t bode well for long term success. Mistakes usually require more training, time and money, three things that nursing homes are known for skimping on. These two laws essentially tie the state’s hands from doling out punishments and thus the cycle endures.
How does Illinois Rank?
According to Nursing Home Report Cards, Texas was 51st, the worst, in a 2014 ranking of state nursing homes (2016 results are not yet available). Illinois is shamefully close to Texas, coming in at number 44, even worse than it did in a prior evaluation in 2014. Nursing Home Report Cards pointed out that 1 in 4 citations in Illinois was for a severe deficiency. While the AARP Texas report shows that we are not alone, the fact that this is a nationwide problem does not make it any more acceptable.
The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin & Perconti have secured settlements in excess of $160 million for victims of abuse and neglect suffered while under the care of a nursing facility. If you or a loved one has needlessly suffered because of a medication error, poor staff treatment, or any other cause, please contact us for a free consultation.