YOU NEED TO KNOW: INDIANA RANKS NEAR BOTTOM FOR NURSING HOME STAFFING
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) publishes a “report card” detailing deficiencies in nursing homes, including staffing levels.
On the February 2020 staffing levels report, Indiana got a failing grade. Again. The special investigative report published in the Indianapolis Star just two weeks ago is titled “Careless”. Staffing, the reporters emphasized, is “broadly seen by nursing home advocates, researchers and the federal government as the most critical component for providing quality nursing home care.”
CMS recommends nursing staff levels of a minimum 4.1 hours per patient per day, with even more hours if patients are particularly sick, the Star observes. Indiana’s average? 3.46 hours per patient.
After more than 40 years of dealing with nursing home abuse and neglect, at Ramey & Hailey Law, we were, lamentably, not surprised by the report. Low staffing levels lead to nursing home neglect. Unlike abuse, neglect is not done out of intent to harm a patient in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility. But intended or not, substandard care can result in even worse harm than actual abuse.
Under the law, the technical definition of neglect is “failure to provide the care and services necessary to ensure freedom from harm or pain.” There are four types of neglect that happen in patient care facilities; all of them can start with understaffing:
- Medical neglect (lack of treatment for diabetes, bedsores, infections, mobility issues, lacerations, etc.)
- Neglect of basic needs (water, food, a clean environment)
- Neglect of personal hygiene (assistance with laundry, bathing, teeth brushing, toileting, etc.)
- Social or emotional neglect (staff ignores patients and leaves them alone for long periods of time)
Our attorneys are particularly concerned about nursing home patients in our state during this period when visitors are not allowed (because of the coronavirus pandemic) into nursing homes.
We agree with what Richard J. Mollot, executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition in New York City, wrote in an email: “We are deeply concerned that residents are cut off from loved ones and vice versa. We know that, in addition to providing company, love and a friendly face, families provide vital monitoring and often essential care,”
Regulations that were phased in from 2016 to 2019 gave nursing home residents the right to receive any visitor, not just relatives, at any hour of the day, as long as their visitors don’t disturb other residents. In the current environment of prevention against the spread of the virus, that right has been suspended. What that means, unfortunately, is that a crucial factor in preventing neglect (the alertness of visiting family members to signs of neglect and abuse) is not operative.
While the CMS continues to investigate and put nursing homes ”on probation”, trying to improve the overall situation for Indiana patients our mission at Ramey & Hailey Law is to hold a neglectful nursing home, convalescent or rehab center legally responsible through filing a personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit in civil court.
If you have concerns about the level of care that a loved one is receiving in a nursing home, let’s talk about that. We help our clients through this difficult process, help attain compensation to the victims, and do our part to ensure that the nursing home neglect suffered is not repeated on other innocent victims.