There are over 1.4 million residents in nursing homes, with for-profit ownership at 69.8% in 2014. Nursing homes are responsible for the care of their patients, and many facilities are understaffed, leading to lack of proper care for nursing home residents.
Nursing home abuse is on the rise, making it riskier for residents entering facilities.
Making matters worse, the Trump Administration decided to cut the size of fines that these nursing homes face. Average fines have fallen from $41,260 for injuring or endangering residents to an average of $28,405 in just a three-year period.
The move allows for less of an incentive for nursing homes to fix their dangerous practices.
Smaller nursing homes benefit the most from the reduction, and larger nursing homes simply save money and have less of a reason to correct the abuse occurring inside of facilities. Citations have risen 28% since the new fines have been put in place.
The one recourse for many patients and their families is filing a lawsuit against the nursing home.
Nursing Home Verdicts May Help Lower Violations and Abuse
Lower penalties have allowed nursing homes to suffer fewer financial losses due to neglect and abuse. There's little incentive, from the government level, to change the practices that have endangered, killed or harmed residents.
Families are taking the power into their own hands, suing companies in hopes that they can find financial relief for their loved ones.
Large verdicts are being handed out, as judges and jurors take it upon themselves to punish nursing homes for maltreatment. There are a few results of these lawsuits that are helping make the industry a little safer:
- Awareness is on the rise, with news outlets better informing the public of the abuse faced in nursing homes.
- Awards granted to families are larger, causing a large financial impact on nursing home owners that may drive change.
Evidence shows that juries seek the largest possible punishment in nursing home abuse cases, and this may lead to a positive change for nursing home residents and families.
Since nearly 50% of claims against nursing homes involve wrongful death, the punishment against nursing homes can be severe.
Plaintiffs that file the lawsuits win nearly 85% of the verdicts in personal injury cases against nursing homes.
Verdicts that go in favor of residents or their family members brings many of the mistreatments to the public eye. Nursing homes have a duty to provide a safe environment for all residents, and failing to meet this duty should be met with the harshest penalties.
The nursing home industry is growing, allowing these owners to enjoy higher profits as the population continues to age.
Nursing homes, which have been lobbying diligently to lower the fines that are assessed when violations occur, have little incentive under the current administration to change their deadly practices. Lawsuits brought by families and victims are the only recourse and method that is proving to bring positive change to the nursing industry.
Large verdicts show that nursing homes must focus on safety and making positive changes, or the bottom line they’re trying to protect will be impacted.