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John Bisnar
John Bisnar
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Nursing Homes Negligence Continues to Grow and Profit

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Is there profit in negligent nursing home care?

The number of nursing homes in Arizona with serious problems has grown considerably over the last two years, according to an Associated Press news report posted on the Tucson Citizen’s Web site. Last year, the report states, inspectors found 11 nursing homes were below standard – that’s 13 percent of the state’s nursing homes.

Inspectors found that many patients in these homes were getting the wrong medicine and some residents simply suffered in silence because they feared retaliation by abusive nursing home employees. The report states that this year alone, three homes have gotten the worst possible rating. Waverly Park in Tucson was filed $20,250 for not giving medications to 21 patients over four days last year.

The issue of nursing home abuse and neglect made its way to the limelight in Arizona when state inspectors found that the Arizona State Veteran Home was in “immediate jeopardy.” They found that elderly patients were allowed to smoke without supervision, sometimes burning themselves with the cigarettes. Other residents were found left in soiled clothes for hours. The nursing home paid up a federal fine of $10,000 for its violations.

Let’s do the math. A nursing home company under-staffs one of its nursing homes by one employee per shift for all three shifts a day. If they pay those employees $12.00 an hour, it probably costs them something more then $25,000 a year for wages, benefits and taxes. By understaffing one employee per shift the nursing home saves 3 X $25,000 = $75,000 saving per year. If the nursing home gets caught not properly caring for their residents by state inspectors, the state fines the nursing home $10,000. If the nursing home only gets caught twice a year, they are being rewarded for failing to properly care for their residents to the tune of an extra $55,000 per year. Would higher penalties encourage proper staffing and care? How about weekly inspections rather than yearly?

Most nursing homes are owned by “for profit” companies. If nursing home residents sue for negligent treatment, lack of treatment and/or abuse every time it happens, it won’t happen much. If nursing home residents are intimidated into not speaking up and are fearful of making any type of complaint, then the worst of the nursing homes are going to continue to get away with poor, negligent and abusive treatment and gradually get worse. A “jury of your peers” is a lot scarier for a nursing home owner to face than a state inspector that hands out $10,000 fines. A jury may be the only body that can motivate the greediest of nursing home operators to properly care for their residents, to do the job they are getting paid for.

Need a confidential consultation regarding nursing home treatment or lack there of, contact us for a free, confidential consultation.