WHEELING, WV, March 19, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Most Americans recognize that few things are as important as the quality of care we provide to our elderly citizens in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The increases in our lifespan because of improvements in medical science, environmental protection and improved safety don't mean much without quality of life to go along with greater quantity. Moreover, as our lives have lengthened, more and more Americans live long enough to need facilities to provide skilled assistance with the activities of daily living, nursing care, and even medical care.
Enter the nursing home industry -- once a patchwork of facilities run by local hospitals, charitable institutions and small businesses, the nursing home industry has been consolidated into massive corporate chains (http://www.providermagazine.com/reports/Documents/2012/0612_Top50.pdf
). Nursing home corporations such as Manor Care and Genesis now own hundreds of facilities, all run with a focus on producing the greatest possible profit for the companies' executives and owners and not with an emphasis on providing the best possible care for the patients. The corporatization of American nursing homes has not brought about improvements in the quality of care. Rather, the reverse has occurred.
The federal Department of Health and Human Services recently found an astonishing amount of substandard care in American nursing homes, paid for by taxpayers. Medicare paid $5.1 Billion for poor nursing home care according to last Thursday's report. (http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/02/28/medicare-paid-51-billion-for ... port-says/
) This low quality care is not just reflected in money wasted. It is seen in the loss of dignity, the infliction of suffering and the premature ending of human lives. Elderly Americans suffer preventable pressure sores, (http://www.bordaslaw.com/Nursing-Home-Negligence/Bedsores.shtml
) unnecessary amputations, preventable falls, and needless deaths by choking, dehydration, malnutrition (http://www.bordaslaw.com/Nursing-Home-Negligence/Dehydration-Malnutrition.shtml
) or even exposure to the elements when supervision becomes so lax that a confused senior wonders away from a nursing home facility and dies. (http://www.bordaslaw.com/Nursing-Home-Negligence/Wanderings-Broken-Bones-Falls.shtml
This is why it was deeply disappointing to see Wisconsin take action to reduce the legal protections for its elderly in nursing homes. Massive nursing home chains like Genesis and Manor Care have already garnered immunity (http://www.bordaslaw.com/blog/2012/02/supreme-court-decision-on-arbit ... ghts.shtml
) from wrongdoing through forced arbitrations (http://www.bordaslaw.com/blog/2012/06/elderly-victims-of-nursing-home ... tion.shtml
). Now, with the cooperation of Republican Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin is actually preventing government reports regarding substandard care in nursing homes from being used as evidence in court. Most states have some system for inspecting nursing homes and identifying the violations of the "standard of care". These government organizations can cite facilities for failing to follow the rules and issue small fines. Detailed reports are required to be produced explaining what was going on at the nursing home and what the nursing home was required to do to fix it. According to Wisconsin's new law, no matter how egregious the violations and no matter how detailed and accurate the government's reports have proven to be, the results of those reports can never be used in court on behalf of a victim. (http://www.wisconsinwatch.org/2013/02/17/bill-changed-state-law/
This type of legislation in which the inspections that the people are paying for are not allowed to be used for the specific reasons they are created - to protect the victims and raise the quality of care in these facilities - is a pure giveaway to the nursing home industry. The legislation serves no beneficial purpose whatsoever, except to allow massive nursing home corporations to run their facilities any way they want to with little or no regard for the health or dignity of the residents and to insulate themselves from liability when residents are injured or killed as a result of corporate decisions to cut corners, short staff and skimp on the basic human needs like nutrition and hydration. Needless to say, the legislation was cooked up by lobbying's most insidious malefactor - ALEC (http://www.bordaslaw.com/blog/2012/09/stay-informed-about-alec---the- ... ment.shtml
In the meantime, closer to home, West Virginia's nursing homes are in crisis. 54% of the facilities in West Virginia have been cited for 30 or more deficiencies since 2009. 72% have been cited for one or more severe deficiencies. Nearly 50% have been cited for multiple severe deficiencies. Three West Virginia nursing homes have been hit with more than 100 deficiencies and over 270 cases of abuse or neglect have been cited just in those facilities and circumstances the government studied. Far from being kept out of court, this type of information needs to be heard by judges, juries, legislators and other responsible persons so that strong action can be taken to reform the nursing home industry and provide West Virginia's and America's seniors with the quality of care they deserve. Incidents where our seniors are afflicted with World War I ailments like gangrene (http://www.bordaslaw.com/blog/2002/11/meredith-v-heartland-of-clarksb ... dict.shtml
) must be stopped.
Governor Walker and Wisconsin went in the wrong direction on nursing homes. Let's hope West Virginia and other states do not do the same. (http://www.fightingforjustice.org/content/kentucky-nursing-homes-need ... y-not-less
Bordas and Bordas Attorneys, PLLC is a full-service personal injury law firm. Their attorneys represent clients throughout the Ohio Valley. To learn more about their injury lawyer and practice, visit www.bordaslaw.com
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