Earlier this year, a nursing home facility in upstate New York was hit with a hefty fine for a number of deficiencies in its failure to give proper care to its patient residents. This was the second in the last few years, as a prior $8,000 fine levied on the home in early 2012 was again for multiple deficiencies discovered in 2010. The most recent fine of $44,000 handed down in early 2014 was as a result of a survey performed on multiple dates over the course of 4 months in early 2011.
The Poor Elder Care
The upstate New York nursing home was cited by the New York State Department of Health for a variety of offenses uncovered during a survey examination by health officials. These included a failure to properly supervise the residents, and consistent with this was a failure to avoid certain accidents. Additionally, the home failed to ensure patients were properly hydrated. On top of this, staffers did not promptly notify doctors of the results of laboratory tests so that those results could be assessed and acted upon where necessary. Along the list of code citations are constant references to “quality of care” and “quality assurance.” And lastly, there is also at least one reference to “administration” or “administrator,” presumably adding to the charges a failure to properly keep records or possibly to ensure proper paperwork is filed and handled the way it should.
For the inspection report period from June 2010 to May 2014, this very facility experience substantially more deficiencies than facilities across the Empire State. For example, this upstate nursing home was cited for 69 standard health deficiencies over this time, while the statewide average was only 23. Its 10 life safety code deficiencies equaled the statewide average meaning that total deficiencies at the facility compared with the statewide average was 79 to 33. Furthermore, the amount of deficiencies “related to actual harm or immediate jeopardy” stood at 22, whereas the statewide average was a mere 1 (yes, one). Lastly, the percentage of deficiencies “related to actual harm or immediate jeopardy” was 28%, versus the 4% statewide rate. As of September 2013, the facility was reported to have not had adequate pest control; a nurse administered a serious painkiller to a patient with back pain absent a doctor’s order to do so; and a staffer restrained a dementia patient in their chair for a day which violated rules against unnecessary physical restraint. These are just some examples of what led to the serious citations for this facility.
Identifying Dangerous Nursing Homes
It is thus no surprise that this particular nursing home was at one point on a federal list of homes nationwide that have a history of poor quality of care for residents. Apparently, though, it was taken off this list, presumably because it had already started making the required changes under federal and state regulations that would keep it from the possibility of being shut down.
This example of violations and deficiencies underscores the importance of looking at a nursing home’s history. It is also important to keep in mind how sometimes violations do not come to light in a final report and financial fine or penalty right away. As was the case here, 2011 violations culminated in a 2014 penalty in New York. Nevertheless, researching these facilities in both state and federal records is vital before choosing one.
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