In the wake of the recent $677 million settlement against a large nursing home chain, the nursing home industry is up in arms. Critics are questioning why such a large amount was awarded in a case with no physical or mental harm had actually occurred.
The reason that Skilled Healthcare was targeted was that it had allegedly failed to maintain the purported federally-mandated minimum staffing levels at its 22 California facilities (an allegation that the company maintains is false). At first glance it might appear that the ruling against Skilled Healthcare is a possible example of personal litigation run amok.
But hold on a moment
Nursing home abuse is a very real and growing problem in the United States, and most nursing home abuse experts agree that the greatest risk factor for abuse by far is understaffing. Corporate nursing home chains such as Skilled Nursing Homes have (on average) 32 percent fewer registered nurses and 47 percent higher deficiencies than non-corporate care facilities. And the dramatic increase in incidents of nursing home abuse parallels the rise in corporate nursing home ownership.
So would it make sense then to ensure that corporate nursing homes are held strictly accountable for maintaining adequate staffing levels? The nursing home industry does not like this trend. After all, cutting staff is one of the most common ways that the industry cuts costs and maximizes profits.
The $677 million settlement was perhaps a warning for the nursing home industry to wake up and do what is right stop putting profits ahead of people and maintain safe staffing levels for our elders.
Nursing home abuse attorneys are helping to hold corporate nursing homes accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one has been harmed by the negligent actions of a care facility, you may be entitled to compensation. A nursing home abuse attorney may be able to help.