Many of the topics that are covered here at the blog come from nursing home survey reports. These are reports that nursing home inspectors (AKA surveyors) compile. I’ve never really discussed the nature of these inspections or the consequences that these inspections have on the facility because it wasn’t terribly relevant, but a recent report on ProPublica makes the discussion more worthwhile.
Nursing home inspections are carried out by the state. In Illinois it’s the Department of Public Health that employs and assigns nursing home inspectors, or surveyors. However, it’s the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) that set the majority of the regulations for nursing home care and pay for all of the Medicare and half of the Medicaid bills.
When a nursing home is found to have failed to meet regulations, the state assigns a dollar value for the fines. The money collected for the fines is split between the federal government and the state. This gives individual states tremendous leeway to determine the punishment for failing to meet requirements.
An article in ProPublica highlights the problems that this system can create. Two cases of nursing home neglect are discussed. One takes place in South Carolina, and one takes place in Texas.
In both cases, poor training and oversight lead to these residents’ death. In Texas, a resident choked to death on a cracker. Staff were untrained in CPR, and failed to promptly notify emergency services. In South Carolina, a resident pulled out her breathing tube. She had pulled the tube from her chest multiple times over the past few months, and yet the nursing home took no action to prevent her from doing it again.
In Texas, state inspectors chose to impose a fine of just $9,500. In South Carolina, the nursing home was fined over $300,000. Reasonable people might disagree on whether one nursing home was slightly more to blame then the other. Clearly, however, $9,500 is a paltry fine for the failure to train staff to use CPR or call 911.
When states fail to properly police nursing homes with respect to nursing home neglect, they are implicitly allowing the neglect to continue. When that happens, the families of nursing home neglect victims need to utilize the civil court system to find justice.
If you have a loved one who has been the victim of nursing home neglect in a Chicago nursing home, contact our Chicago nursing home lawyers for a free and confidential evaluation of your case. At my law offices we never charge a fee unless we earn a recovery for you.