Pennsylvania’s Attorney General is arguing against his state’s dismissal of a lawsuit that attempted to fight Golden LivingCenters’ deceptive advertising. Attorney General Josh Shapiro says that the chain purposely understaffs its facilities in order to ensure higher profits, a practice that makes it nearly impossible for them to meet advertising claims that promise best in class care. Among their claims? “Best in the world” and “Strongest known to man.”
The court dismissed the suit saying that the chain, owned by Golden Gate National Senior Care LLC, was partaking in typical ‘puffery’ involved in many advertising campaigns. Shapiro, however, is afraid that allowing the chain to get away with deceptive advertising is opening the door for other major nursing home chains, industries, and corporations to follow in their footsteps. He is currently working on an appeal against the state court’s dismissal.
Understaffing: The New Normal
Deliberate understaffing is a common practice uncovered in nursing homes in the United States. With the majority of facilities being privately owned and operated, owners more concerned with the bottom line are allowing a profit motive to overshadow patient care.
In recent months, private ownership of nursing homes and the wealth associated with them has come to light. After the federal government filed a lawsuit against HCR ManorCare alleging false billing and Medicare fraud against the chain, the private equity firm that owned the chain sold it off. Soon after, ManorCare’s outgoing CEO demanded the $100 million exit package he says he was promised 10 years ago when the chain restructured.
Understaffing in nursing homes is a heartless business plan. More often than not, findings of nursing home abuse and neglect are related to the resident load placed upon its staff. Physicians’ orders, such as those related to medication, nutrition, hygiene, and safety are often overlooked or ignored because nursing home staff simply does not have the time to be as diligent as the standard of care requires. It is reasonable to expect that the facility we’ve chosen to care for our loved one is following the current best practices in healthcare and elder care, as well as doctor’s orders specific to them. However, with the trend of placing profits above all else, many nursing homes are treating residents as nothing more than a payday.
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