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Weston Nursing Home Abuse Watch: Why It Happens

Our Weston nursing home abuse attorneys have seen numerous cases in which elderly loved ones were harmed or neglected by staff that had been well paid by taxpayers to care for them.

So why does Weston nursing home abuse continue to happen?

A recent look at this issue by Carole Herman, founder and president of The Foundation Aiding the Elderly, in The Huffington Post, allows some insight.

First, it’s important to note some of the history, and to take into account that things used to be much worse.

Back in the late 1980s, then-President Ronald Regan signed what later became known as OBRA, or the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. It was essentially the first version of the federal standards for nursing home care since the creation of Medicaid and Medicare in 1965.

The idea was that health care facilities (namely, nursing homes) wanted to be able to provide a certain standard of care to each patient, regardless of how much money that person had.

But a quarter century later, and we’re still seeing numerous occurrences of nursing home abuse in Weston and in the estimated 16,000 nursing homes that checker the country.

Herman contends that one of the main reason for this continued deficiency in care is that state agencies that are charged with serving as a watchdog and overseeing that care don’t do enough to make sure that problems at these facilities are corrected. A big problem at a number of these centers is not having enough staffing.

If a center doesn’t have enough staff, more often than not, the quality of care is going to suffer. For example, if you have a Certified Nursing Assistance who has more than 15 patients to care for in any given 8-hour shift, there’s no way his or her patients are going to get the hands-on care they need. It’s just not possible.

But when state agencies find this kind of a violation, they may note it an annual report, but they do nothing to compel the nursing home to hire more staff. And nursing home administrators are not jumping at the chance to correct this because doing so would dip into their bottom-line profits.

This theory was backed by a 2006 study conducted by Consumer Reports. That report said that while nursing homes overall are better than they were 20 years ago, it also said that state agencies didn’t do enough to correct identified problems. So while the number of deficiencies reported had gone up, that partially had to do with an increased number of inspectors. But at the same time, no one appears to be doing much to correct those deficiencies.

And what’s more, the taxpayer money that the industry gets has continued to rise, as do the paychecks of operators, administrators and politicians (who receive money from political action committees, subsidized by nursing homes). Medicare and Medicaid fraud, however, has never been higher at these facilities.

And the instances of nursing home abuse and neglect, as well, continue to spike.

As Herman so deftly put it: “(The industry) has put profits ahead of care for years, and continues to get away with it unless civil action is taken to hold them accountable.”

This is where our Weston nursing home abuse lawyers come in. If you think your loved one may be a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse in Florida, pay attention to the signs: look for bedsores, visit often, ask questions, make sure they’re getting enough to eat and drink, listen to what your loved one is saying and don’t allow your concerns to be dismissed by staff.

If you or a loved one have suffered from nursing home abuse in Weston, West Palm Beach or the surrounding areas, contact the Law Offices of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez for legal assistance. 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Suing Nursing Homes, By Carole Herman, The Huffington Post

More Blog Entries:
Jupiter Nursing Home Neglect May Rise With Medicaid Cuts, April 7, 2012, Weston Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Blog

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