A $2 million settlement agreed upon by government regulators and a nursing home in Pennsylvania will resolve allegations of violating consumer protection statutes by not providing adequate services to nursing home patients, as promised in marketing materials and advertisements.
The state’s attorney general announced the settlement, which involved a company called Reliant Senior Care Holdings Inc., which was accused of skimping on necessary staffing levels needed to ensure the basic needs of residents would be met at the firm’s nearly two dozen skilled nursing facilities throughout Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the company failed to deliver on its promise of making sure residents’ individualized needs were met and that personalized service was provided.
So low were the staffing levels at some of these nursing homes, according to the attorney general, that basic, life-sustaining functions – eating, drinking, daily hygiene and incontinence care – were not met on a daily basis.
This level of nursing home neglect is wholly unacceptable – and entirely preventable. Sadly, it’s not all that uncommon for companies that own and oversee large numbers of for-profit nursing homes. In many cases, these companies allow their facilities to be extremely short-staffed because payroll is often the most expensive overhead cost. But meanwhile, taxpayers are subsidizing the care of those patients through Medicare and Medicaid – and they aren’t getting what they pay for.
An investigation into the practices at Reliant started in 2014, when the attorney general’s office issued a number of subpoenas on the company. The specific charge that was subsequently filed was a violation of the state’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.
Despite the announcement of the settlement, the terms did not require the company to admit that its staffing levels were too low or that it was liable for providing inadequate care to patients. That means any future nursing home neglect lawsuits that arise from the time period in question will not be able to rely on an admission of liability from the company.
In addition to the money the nursing home system will have to pay out, the company agreed to make sure staffing levels at all of its facilities will meet the very basic needs of residents. However, that may not be as much of a concern in the future, given that shortly after the settlement was announced, Reliant issued a notice that it sold its portfolio of skilled nursing facilities in Pennsylvania to another company, Priority Healthcare Group.
The bulk of the $2 million settlement – minus attorney fees – will go to the state department of health in order to help with the implementation of the recommendations laid forth in the Nursing Home Quality Improvement Task Force Report. That report recommended:
- Altering the annual licensing surveys for the 700 nursing homes in that state;
- Sharing data that will ensure a better measurement of life and care quality;
- Updates to staffing requirements to make sure nurses on shift have the necessary skill for the patient population;
- Cultural changes that shift the focus of nursing home operations from profit centers to patient-centered.
The hope is that this kind of accountability will prevent such egregious violations of basic care into the future.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Reliant Senior Care Holdings to pay $2 million for allegedly failing to meet nursing home needs, Oct. 12, 2016, By Mark Iandolo, Legal Newsline
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DHHS: No More Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements, Oct. 29, 2016, Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog