Is nursing home negligence on the rise, or is the media simply paying greater attention? Based on recent news stories from Frontline and Salon.com, more light has been shed on extreme negligence in assisted living facilities across the country, and the lawsuits that followed, at the same time corporate policies, from buying up independent homes to resident retention rates, become a greater part of operation.
One of the more extreme instances is a case in Polk County, Fla., in which the jury awarded the plaintiff $1.1 billion in damages in a case against Trans Health Care, Inc.
The themes throughout the case reflect common complaints with many assisted living facilities regardless of location: Staff and supplies aren’t sufficient, and neglect festers into extreme health conditions for residents. For the plaintiff’s family member, this meant 18 falls in six years, one of which resulted in a hip fracture, severe infections, chronic stomach pains, skin tears, malnutrition, and dehydration.
What’s particularly appalling about this case is the facility’s operation. The company’s investors intentionally plotted to bring the assisted living facility into insolvency. To top this off, no one in its Board of Directors was a healthcare professional.
Unfortunately, the case against Trans Health Care, Inc. is hardly an isolated incident. Frontline’s August 1 piece goes through several cases, all in facilities bought up by Emeritus: from former professional football player George McAfee wandering off and swallowing dish detergent to residents falling, not receiving medications on time, being sexually assaulted, disappearing from the facility, or dying from a lack of surveillance.
But negligence in the form of staff being spread too thin is only one of several significant issues surfacing from lawsuits against Emeritus and similar facilities with a corporate approach. In Salon.com’s piece, the findings are far more insidious.
Workers without proper licensing and training attempt to treat severe conditions, such as one patient with extreme bedsores; even when such practices go on, however, family members aren’t updated regarding the care the resident received.
This notion leads into one practice that ultimately prevents residents from receiving adequate treatment: maintaining quotas inside assisted living facilities. As the Salon.com piece shows, Emeritus expects its staff, including healthcare workers, to strive for high occupancy and few move-outs, regardless of a resident’s health. Exemplifying this, one Emeritus home in Smyrna, Ga., was found by inspectors to have 15 out of 35 residents who should have been transferred to a nursing home or facility with more specialized, watchful care.
Trantolo & Trantolo acknowledges that assisted living and nursing home residents may be subject to negligence. If you suspect your family member is in a dire situation, contact one of our Connecticut locations to speak with an experienced trial lawyer.