State regulators have been increasing fines and the number of violations at senior care centers since announcing a philosophical shift late last year. Almost three quarters of a million dollars in fines have been issued, a jump since 2014. A recent news story reports on the details of the fines and the nursing home neglect incidents in Pennsylvania homes.
The shift has moved the Pennsylvania Department of Health away from facility-based issues and more toward patient quality of life issues. Many of the fines were related to shortfalls in patient care that could have been avoided and that caused harm to residents. In two incidences, the patient in the nursing home died. Some of the incidents also included failure to summon a doctor immediately for chest pain, failure to give medicine for low blood sugar and a violation for water that was too hot.
Some opponents of increased fines feel that fines take cash away from already strapped nursing homes and therefore do not increase the level of care provided. Others feel that a more collaborative effort between the DoH and the nursing homes can help improve outcomes without taking needed funds away from nursing homes, and that perhaps the fines should be used to improve patient care in some way. One school of thought is that more drastic measures, such as closing homes in violation, will be the only truly effective way to create change.
It remains to be seen whether Pennsylvania's philosophical shift will affect patient care. Any person concerned about nursing home neglect is able to anonymously report violations to the Department of Health. For persons who have been affected by an incident of nursing home neglect, a lawyer can be a helpful tool when filing a lawsuit to be compensated for any damages and suffering.
Source: lancasteronline.com, "Number of nursing home fines in Pennsylvania jump since 2014, total $774,750 so far this year", Heather Stauffer, July 24, 2017