The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently looked into nursing home complaints across the nation to see how well states manage these high-priority tasks. Maryland has not fared well, according to its findings.
According to the HHS, Maryland officials did not investigate a staggering three-fourths of all serious nursing home abuse claims within 10 days, as they law demands. The total amount of wrongfully delayed investigations in Maryland nearly reached 650 within the study period. This ranked Maryland as the 7th worst in the country when it comes to investigating high-priority nursing home complaints. The average amount of days it took the Maryland Health Department to investigate a claim was 47, or nearly five times the permitted amount of time.
The HHS is concerned that the problem will not be fixed any time soon since it seems to have existed for decades. Records in 1999 suggest that Maryland was having the same investigative problems as found in recent years. Additionally, Maryland, Arizona, New York, and Tennessee all combined accounted for nearly 50% of all the high-priority investigations that were not handled on time.
Low Staffing Blamed for Poor Investigations
The Maryland Health Department has rebutted the HHS study by claiming it is understaffed. It has said it requires at least another 12 investigators in order to meet the expectations of the law and the sheer number of nursing home complaints. In 2015 alone, more than 1,100 complaints were filed among Maryland’s 232 licensed nursing homes.
Another defense propped up by the Maryland Health Department was that it had no issues investigating “immediate jeopardy” cases. The state defines an immediate jeopardy case as one that involves the resident being highly likely of suffering physical harm at any time within the nursing home. The state must investigate those cases within just two days of the complaint being filed. According to its 2015 records, it did not fail the two-day timeline for immediate jeopardy cases even once. However, it is worth noting that such cases only amounted to 1% of all the complaints.
(For more information about Maryland’s handling of high priority nursing home complaints, you can click here to view a full article recently posted by The Baltimore Sun.)
Delayed Investigations Hurt Nursing Home Residents
Failing to investigate nursing home complaints in a timely manner is not just a problem on paper, it creates real world consequences. When there is a significant delay, it makes it difficult for investigators to actually spot the problems when they do get around to an investigation. If the problem is never identified, it will not be corrected.
Furthermore, delays make it unfairly difficult to pinpoint liability when someone files an injury claim against a negligent nursing home. The delay will allow the nursing home or assisted living clinic to effectively cover its tracks and act as if the complaint was unfounded from the start. In many cases, only the intervention and guidance of a professional nursing home abuse lawyer has been able to lead claims and lawsuits to success.
If your elderly loved one has suffered due to negligence or malicious abuse in a nursing home in Maryland, let Brown and Barron know. Our Baltimore nursing home abuse attorneys have more than 50 years of total combined experience focused on complex and sensitive personal injury claims, including many nursing home abuse cases. Thanks to our advocacy and dedication, we have managed to recover millions of dollars for our clients in positive case results throughout the years. Go ahead and contact us today to request a free case evaluation to get you started.