Fewer Penalties for Nursing Homes may Increase Risks
Nursing homes in Florida and across the United States are expected to comply with numerous regulations to ensure the health and safety of all residents. When nursing homes have dangerous or unsanitary conditions, unqualified or threatening staff members, or other subpar conditions that violate state or federal laws, many residents can suffer harm.
In the past, when a nursing home has fallen below certain safety standards or if abuse or neglect occurred, government agencies would apply civil penalties to the company that owned the nursing home. The company would have to pay fines for violations that were reported by investigators, and these fines were largely meant to serve as a deterrent to prevent injuries in the first place.
Now, however, the Trump administration has issued new guidance intended to roll back the fines issued to nursing homes for mistreatment or neglect of residents. The change came after a request from the American Health Care Association that inspectors be more focused on assisting nursing homes instead of on punitive penalties. Under the amended rules, inspectors should avoid fining nursing homes under certain circumstances and decrease fines that they do issue.
Advocates for Medicare services have mixed opinions on the new changes. Some say the reduced penalties have nearly eliminated enforcement of safety regulations, which they feel was already weak. Others claim that less focus on compliance will open nursing home staff up to better and more personal care of residents.
Abuse and Neglect Cause Serious Harm
One concern with the reduced penalties for reported mistreatment of residents is that nursing homes will have little to no deterrent from preventing such mistreatment. Even with the civil penalties, an estimated 6,500 nursing homes were fined for violations since 2013. Now, without the fear of costly fines, will nursing homes relax their standards to allow for neglect and even abuse of residents?
Not every injury that occurs in a nursing home is the result of neglect or abuse, as accidents do happen. However, nursing home neglect and abuse is more common than you may think and is the result of negligence or intentional actions of the nursing home staff. Some common causes of serious injuries to residents include:
- Deprivation of proper nutrition and water
- Inadequate temperature control (rooms that are too hot or cold)
- Failure to provide necessary medical care or medication
- Unsanitary rooms, bedding, or clothing
- Inappropriate restraint or isolation of residents
- Emotional harassment or abuse
- Physical assaults
- Sexual assaults
- Allowing assaults by other residents
If someone is harmed by a negligent or intentional act by a nursing home, the injured resident has the right to hold the nursing home liable for their injury-related losses—whether or not the government will issue a fine.
Contact a Tampa Nursing Home Abuse Law Firm for Help Today
The Florida Law Group is passionate about protecting the rights of nursing home residents. Our attorneys have handled many cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect and we are here to help you. If you suspect that a loved one has been abused or neglected, please contact us online or call (813) 463-8880 for a free consultation today.