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Report: For-Profit Nursing Homes Fuel Abuse, Fraud and Neglect

A new investigative report by Bloomberg News lifted the veil on a startling pattern of nursing home abuse and fraud by for-profit care centers. handsold.jpg

Our Davie nursing home abuse attorneys understand that of the $1.5 billion that the nursing home industry overcharges for Medicare, as reported by federal health care inspectors late last year, for-profit nursing homes are primarily to blame. Bloomberg reports that for-profit nursing homes were found on average to overcharge on 30 percent of their Medicare costs, versus the 12 percent found by non-profit nursing homes.

We’re talking about a nearly $3 trillion industry in the U.S., where nearly 80 percent of the revenues are being funneled to for-profit nursing homes, up from 72 percent a decade ago.

The journalists claim that for-profit nursing homes have perpetuated an enormous amount of waste and patient harm, backing their stance by citing at least six academic and government studies conducted over the last three years.

Researchers at the School of Law at the University of California say for-profit centers are far more likely to push the legal envelope in order to boost their bottom line.

In fact, with the rise in for-profit nursing homes over the last five years, we’ve also seen an enormous boost in civil and criminal cases against nursing homes and those employed by them. Between 2008 and 2012, federal prosecutors brought 120 criminal and civil cases relating to nursing home abuse, neglect and fraud. That’s more than double what it was in the five years prior.

Among the recent criminal cases cited by the reporters was that of an 80-year-old female patient of a South Carolina nursing home. She was unable to keep her eyes open or control her head. And yet, as part of “physical and occupational therapy,” she was put in a standing frame for nearly two hours. She died two days later. Federal prosecutors pressed charges against the facility for unnecessary care and overcharges.

Then there was the large nursing home system operating several sites in a single county in California, where at least six patients died over the course of seven years as a direct result of neglect. According to court records, the patients were reportedly left in soiled clothing for hours unattended, were refused baths and meals and suffered from widespread malnutrition and infection. Prosecutors say these actions were specifically taken to avoid spending money. A class action trial resulted in a lump sum settlement, though the terms of that agreement weren’t publicly released. The agency never admitted wrongdoing.

And these are not isolated incidents. Consider that the 10 biggest for-profit nursing home chains employed, on average, about 40 percent fewer registered nurses per patient between 2003 and 2008. It’s no surprise, then, that these facilities received an average of nearly 60 percent more deficiency notices from state and federal inspectors than non-profit facilities. (That’s according to a study published in 2011 by the Health Services Research journal.)

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
For-Profit Nursing Homes Fuel Rise In Fraud And Abuse Charges, Dec. 31, 2012, By Jeffrey Young, Huffington Post

More Blog Entries:
Report: Bed Rails Can Be Fatal for Elderly, Jan. 16, 2013, Davie Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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