Parker Waichman LLP, a personal injury firm dedicated to advocating on behalf of nursing home residents and their families, is outraged by the Trump Administration’s recent announcement that it will reduce the use of citations and fines against nursing and rehabilitation facilities that violate federal safety statutes, regulations and protocols. The Trump Administration’s recent policy change will further insulate nursing homes from responsibility for violations of safety statutes and regulations which protect nursing home residents from the devastating results of neglect and abuse in those facilities. This change in policy effectively removes at the improvements made in recent years in the promotion and preservation of the rights of our nation’s most vulnerable population, our elderly and disabled.
In response to complaints made by The American Health Care Association, nursing homes’ main trade group and their paid lobbyists, the Trump Administration has implemented a shift in Medicare’s penalty protocols. Since 2013, nearly 4 in 10 nursing homes have been cited by federal inspectors at least once for serious violations of guidelines including, among other things, failing to protect residents from avoidable accidents, neglect and/or mistreatment of patients and failing to prevent patients from developing bedsores. The new rules have been implemented over the past six months, and in October, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began discouraging its regional offices from issuing fines, even if a serious health violation had occurred, if it was a “one-time” mistake.
Nursing Home advocates have expressed concern that the revised penalties will result in a weakening of an extremely valuable patient safety tool. Janet Wells, a consultant with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, expressed her concern in an article in The New York Times stating that the changes have been implemented at a time when “some egregious violations and injuries to residents are being penalized – finally – at a level that gets the industry’s attention and isn’t just the cost of doing business.”
Nursing home facilities are meant to provide safe, compassionate, ethical, clean and healthy treatment and living spaces for the disabled and the elderly. Most nursing home residents are completely dependent upon the facility for their nursing and medical care, as well as for their activities of daily living. As a result, nursing homes are legally charged with the duty to provide “a good quality of care” and the care and services necessary to attain or maintain the highest practicable care and well- being of each resident. Abuse and neglect emanating from unchecked statutory safety violations is absolutely unacceptable, and those responsible must and will be held accountable for their actions.
Parker Waichman LLP is committed to representing nursing home residents who have suffered neglect or abuse by those who are supposed to be caring for them. If you or a loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect, Parker Waichman offers free, no-obligation legal consultations. For more information, visit our website or call 1-800-BED-SORE (1-800-233-7673).
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