Nursing Home Residents At Risk Due To Lack of Oversight

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on February 24, 2020 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on April 25, 2024

elderly woman with canePlacing a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility involves an act of trust. However, many facilities across the country may not deserve it. A recent investigation by Seven Days, an alternative weekly Vermont newspaper, uncovered reports of substandard care in many of Vermont’s long-term care facilities (LTC’s).

After reviewing more than five years of records that included complaints, inspection reports and other related documentation, Seven Days revealed they had reviewed more than 12,000 records in all. What they discovered was disturbing: consistent patterns of understaffing and negligent care, along with numerous illnesses, injuries and deaths.

Abuse Captured On Camera

An especially egregious incident occurred at Our House Too in Rutland, Vermont involving the death of a 78-year-old woman with dementia. During her eight-month stay, this resident began to suffer falls, and her children often found her slumped over or stumbling around in a stupor. While the facility initially tried to blame these incidents on her dementia, the family later discovered that staff had been administering daily doses of Haldol, an antipsychotic drug and a powerful sedative.

No one at the facility attempted to get consent for this treatment, either from the family or the patient. Worse still, one of the night shift caregivers was captured on camera pushing their mother to the floor. She died shortly after this event due to pneumonia, but the caregiver admitted to an act of assault. The family is currently suing the nursing home for allegations of neglect and wrongful death.

CMS Consequences For Cited Nursing Homes

While the Seven Days investigation involved Vermont facilities only, this type of abuse and neglect is all too common in nursing homes around the country, including Wisconsin.

In an effort to keep the public notified about nursing homes that do not meet acceptable standards of care, the Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that from October 23, 2019, the Nursing Home Compare (NHC) site will begin flagging assisted living facilities that have been assessed citations for abuse, neglect or exploitation in one of the following two categories, and their state ratings will automatically be capped at two stars:

  • Citations involving abuse in the last year that led to harm
  • Citations involving abuse in the last two years with the potential for harm

Once a facility has been completely free of any citations for abuse, neglect or exploitation for one full year, the flag will be removed.

How to Find a Qualified Nursing Home

In addition to using research tools, such as the NHC, to check for existing complaints or citations, it is also a good idea to visit a facility on multiple occasions and at different times of the day. Look beyond the facilities to get an overall feel for what may exist beyond the obvious. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Are the staff friendly and patient when interacting with other residents?
  • Does the facility look and smell clean?
  • Do the residents seem happy and at ease around staff, or anxious and distressed?

In addition to these tips, you can utilize the free, downloadable nursing home checklist provided on the NHC website to help you consider other important factors that could affect your choice of a long-term care facility for your loved one.

Contact an Attorney For Help

If your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect as a resident of a Wisconsin nursing home, we are prepared to help. At PKSD law, we encourage you to contact our office to arrange for a free consultation with one of our Milwaukee nursing home abuse lawyers. There is no obligation to pursue a claim, but if you do, there are no upfront costs as we charge nothing for our services unless we are successful in obtaining a recovery for you.

Call our offices 24/7. Free consultation. No upfront fees: 414-333-3333

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