Nursing home negligence lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that, according to information obtained from ProPublica, the states with the highest number of average serious deficiencies per home are Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, and South Carolina. Texas has the highest number of total serious deficiencies.
ProPublica collected information from Medicare and Medicaid inspections from the past three inspection cycles, which occur every 12 to 15 months. Medicaid rates the deficiencies on a scale from A to L, with the most serious given a J, K, or L rating. The database details about 118,000 issues in more than 14,500 nursing homes.
The facility with the highest number of fines is Princeton Health and Rehab Center, located in Princeton, KY, which is listed as a Special Focus Facility. The nursing home was fined more than $560,000 in 2012, with a total of seven deficiencies and a J rating. The Medicare Survey Report detailed troubling incidents that occurred at the home in that year, at least one of which resulted in a resident’s death.
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In one incident, a nurse administered a resident pain medication at 2 am. At 4 am, staff helped the same resident sit up on the side of the bed, and then left the resident alone in the room. The resident subsequently fell from the bed, suffering extreme internal bleeding in the brain. The resident died from this internal bleeding, which was listed as the determining factor on the death certificate. In Princeton’s investigation, it failed to identify that the staff did not provide adequate care and supervision to prevent the accident.
Another Kentucky facility, Johnson Mathers Nursing Home, is listed as having some of the most serious deficiencies in the nation, also noted as a Special Focus Facility. This nursing home has been subject to seven inspections between June 2010 and November 2012, racking up astounding 54 deficiencies in those two years. In a 2011 report, at least one resident claimed to have been sexually abused in the nursing home, and investigators determined that the facility failed to have an effective program in place to prevent abuse.
The resident alleged that she had been raped, however there was no documentation showing the facility ever completed an investigation into the incident, took action to protect the resident, or notified local law enforcement.
Instances of resident neglect and abuse are the result of a number of factors, but none are as evident as the pursuit of profits over patients. Many nursing homes, not only in Kentucky but across the United States, bill Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary, and often dangerous, services in order to gain reimbursements. An Erlanger nursing home, Villaspring Health Care and Rehabilitation, was recently ordered to pay the federal government $350,000 and enhance its standard of care due to False Claims Act allegations.
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Between 2004 and 2008, Villaspring provided unnecessary services and fraudulently billed the government for them, which ultimately resulted in five patient deaths, in order to receive federal reimbursement. Some of the deceased patients went several days on end without baths, suffered from dehydration, and sustained severe bedsores that led to fatal infections.
In one case, a woman was admitted to Villaspring after a surgery on her hip, though she was otherwise alert and continent. The facility, however, put her on adult diapers, and she developed bedsores so severe that her left leg had to be amputated. She ultimately died of a blood infection, just four months after being admitted.
The average fine for facilities throughout the nation was $11,400, however some states had an average of over $50,000, and Texas had an average fine of $7,000 even though it had the most total deficiencies in the country. These numbers illuminate a troubling disparity between deficiencies and fines between states, which is an indication that government oversight is lacking in our nation’s nursing homes.
Senior abuse and neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins are concerned that these disparities and deficiencies are preventing residents from receiving the highest quality of care. Families of loved ones in nursing homes should consider reviewing the ProPublica database to get a better indication of the reality of care at their facility. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries while at a nursing home or assisted living facilities, you have important legal rights, and should contact an elder abuse attorney as soon as possible.