On March 6th, the Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing to express concerns regarding the reported abuse and neglect happening in nursing home facilities across the country. Chairman Chuck Grassely (R - IA), and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D - OR) discussed the current state of care at nursing homes and recognized the need for stricter regulations and oversight to prevent abuse from occurring at these centers. Experts, officials, and relatives of nursing home residents provided testimony at the hearing to shed light on weaknesses in the industry and make recommendations for improving the system.
Below, we discuss the results of the Senate hearing as they relate to nursing home abuse and neglect for our clients. At Brown & Barron, LLC, we see nursing home abuse cases frequently, and we know there needs to be more accountability to prevent future harm from occurring at these facilities. If someone you know and love has been taken advantage of, please do not hesitate to contact us for help.
Testimony from Victims’ Family Members
During the hearing, family members of nursing home abuse victims provided testimony about the harm their loved ones suffered. Maya Fischer’s mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease and was unable to move or speak, was raped by a caregiver at her nursing home. Patricia Olthoff-Blank also spoke about the abuse that her mother, Virginia Olthoff, suffered while at a separate facility. Having been given little food and deprived of water for days at her nursing home, Olthoff was rushed to the emergency room, where she died from neglect.
The women’s stories reflect just two of the thousands of abuse and neglect cases that occur nationwide. In 2017, CNN reported that between 2013 and 2016, the government cited over 1,000 nursing homes for lapses in reporting and preventing abuse.
Current Weaknesses in Nursing Home Oversight
Dr. David Grabowski, a professor at Harvard Medical School, cited staffing issues and poor care practices, among other factors, as challenges within the nursing home industry that might adversely impact the standard of care nursing home residents receive. He also stated that Medicaid’s Nursing Home Comparison tool and the Five-Star Quality Rating system, which were developed to help consumers make more informed decisions when choosing a nursing home, were flawed and consumers were not aware that those tools existed.
Plans to Improve Systems
Dr. David Gifford, Senior Vice President of Quality and Regulatory Affairs at the American Health Care Association, stated that initiatives, such as the Quality Initiative, put in place to regulate nursing homes have led to improvements in care, but more needs to be done to protect our elders. Dr. Gifford noted that current regulations are reactive, and more proactive steps need to be taken to ensure seniors receive high-quality care at nursing homes. He suggested measures such as attracting highly qualified healthcare workers and enforcing stricter transparency regulations.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid stated that it is planning on releasing updated versions of the Nursing Home Comparison tool and the Five-Star Quality Rating System in April. Changes to the systems would provide more information to consumers about the quality of care at nursing homes, as well as allow individuals to leave more detailed ratings and feedback about the facilities.
Watch the full hearing, or read the testimonies, on the Committee on Finance’s site.
Brown & Barron, LLC: Committed to Protecting the Rights of Your Loved Ones
At Brown & Barron, LLC, we are committed to providing superior legal representation to individuals whose loved ones suffered abuse or neglect at their nursing home. We believe these facilities should be held accountable for mistreatment that occurs, and by taking legal action, we can help prevent future abuse from happening.
We know it is devastating to learn that your loved one was harmed at the facility charged with their care. Our Baltimore nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys will fight aggressively to help you hold the negligent parties accountable and right the wrongs committed against your loved one.
Call us at (410) 698-1717 or contact us onlineif your loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect.