Nursing homes are promising patients an immense array of luxuries, from “decadent hot baths” any time of day to having a fully equipped gym complete with a parked car to practice getting in and out of. Yet the Department of Health and Human Services reports that 33 percent of patients who stay at nursing facilities for less than only 35 days experienced some level of harm. Only 1/3 of those patients’ injuries were temporary.
In other words, nursing homes are now offering luxury services to capture as many clients as possible, then abusing and harming 1/3 of those patients within just 35 days.
This statistic should shock all of us. It certainly shocks us.
The story behind nursing home abuse
In April 2015, the New York Times broke the story of widespread greed and corruption in the nursing home system in the United States. According to their report, “Medicare, the health insurance program for older adults, pays 84 percent more for short-term patients than nursing homes typically get from Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, for long-term residents.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/15/business/as-nursing-homes-chase-lucrative-patients-quality-of-care-is-said-to-lag.html?_r=0)
This massive difference in pricing means that nursing homes are clamoring for more short-term Medicare patients, and many are now refusing Medicaid patients at all.
In the meantime, hospitals are trying to reduce their costs by kicking out patients as quickly as possible. The hospitals suggest a nursing home as a “halfway house” between going home and being in the hospital. The nursing home is happy to get a big boost from a new Medicare patient, while the hospital is happy to reduce an expense and minimize liability.
Patients get pushed out into a system that has too many people to take care of.
The consequences of greed
For some nursing homes, simply getting a few more Medicare clients is not enough. Several chains have been forced to pay federal fines for exaggerating the therapy needs of patients in an effort to increase their Medicare payments. These settlements can reach tens of millions of dollars.
The homes continue to market their amenities to attract recovering hospital patients, but then offer substandard services. Consumers report bedsores, neglect, even starvation, abuse and death in some instances.
And these are for short-term stays. The long-term patients are even more at risk. With all the facility’s attention on gaining new lucrative Medicare clients, the Medicaid patients are also suffering neglect and abuse. Nursing homes that are overworked due to Medicare clients are going to be equally overworked on their long-term patients.
If one third of short term patients were injured in the short term, what does that mean for long-term patients?
What should you do if your loved one is experiencing nursing home abuse?
If your loved ones are being mistreated or not receiving the standard of care they deserve, be sure to do everything in your power to help. Read our checklist of what to do before calling an attorney about nursing home abuse. Document everything. Take photos of any bedsores or other injuries. Keep a copy of every email you send to administrators or ombudsmen. And don’t be afraid to look for another facility.
As you do this, if nobody reacts promptly to help you, call our offices immediately. It’s far too easy for a nursing home to ignore a patient or relative, but it’s not easy for them to ignore an attorney.