Health Department Doubled Nursing Home Fines to $2.3M in 2018
If your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse, contact a Philadelphia nursing home abuse attorney at The Weitz Law Firm, LLC to discuss a potential claim and injuries sustained.
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March 23, 2019
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Pennsylvania’s nursing home facilities have been in the news for years and the reports have not been positive. In 2015, Pennsylvania made history when the state attorney general sued the Golden Living nursing home chain for among other things, failing to provide basic care for nursing home residents. The lawsuit prompted Golden Living to transfer its 36 Pennsylvania nursing home licenses to other chains. It was recently reported that the Pennsylvania Health Department issued $2.3 million dollars in fines to nursing homes across the state for 2018 inspection violations which was double the amount of 2017 fines that were issued, leaving many to wonder if our state’s nursing homes have improved at all.

Nursing home history

When Golden Living finally transferred its 36 nursing home licenses, Philadelphia nursing home abuse attorneys hoped that it was the beginning of nursing home reform and accountability in Pennsylvania, especially after the Pennsylvania Health Department made a commitment to provide more nursing home oversight. Unfortunately, a 2016 audit found deficiencies in the health department’s oversight and lack of improvement in substandard nursing home facilities. Subsequent investigations in 2017 found that former Golden Living facilities were still offering substandard care with little to no improvements.

Nursing home deficiencies

Pennsylvania nursing home deficiencies discovered during investigations include the following:

  • Homes with insufficient staffing levels
  • Insect infestations
  • Falsified records
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • Poor supervision
  • Poor infection controls
  • Supply shortages
  • Improper wound care

Federal special focus facility program

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania’s United States Senators Casey and Toomey wrote a letter to the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on behalf of the approximately 80,000 Pennsylvania nursing home residents. Their letter focused on the federal program that zeros in on specific nursing homes that persistently underperform labeled as special focus facilities (‘SFF’).

Four nursing homes in Pennsylvania are currently under the SFF label, but there are potentially 20 Pennsylvania SSF candidates according to the senators who questioned why the candidates were kept secret. They asked for the potential SSF candidate list to be released as well as the reasoning behind not making this list public in the first place.

2018 nursing home fines

Fines increased from $62,000 in 2014, $170,050 in 2015, $412,200 in 2016, $1.1M in 2017, to $2.3M in 2018. According to the state health department, fines are sometimes calculated on a per-day basis rather than a per-incident basis and some factors taken into account include the kind of potential harm that existed due to the violation, how many residents could have been harmed, and whether or not the violations are repeated violations. The department provides that their priority is making sure the violations are corrected and if a facility is cited for a violation, it must submit a plan to correct the violation along with a completion date.

Philadelphia nursing home abuse attorneys know that more needs to be done to protect our vulnerable elderly residents in Pennsylvania and those who have suffered abuse deserve to be compensated. If your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse, contact a Philadelphia nursing home abuse attorney at The Weitz Law Firm, LLC to discuss a potential claim and injuries sustained.

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