legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
New Jersey Nursing Home Ratings & Safety Violations
According to Medicare.gov, New Jersey has 365 nursing homes. While 277 (78%) of these facilities rank average or above on the level of care they provide, the remaining 81 (22%) have below average and much below average ratings. This substandard level of care falls below the acceptable rating allowed by Medicaid and Medicare.
The incident rate of abuse and neglect occurring in nursing homes nationwide has risen dramatically in recent years. Federal and state investigators have issued citations and monetary penalties for abuse violations and infractions. Statistics show that approximately one out of ten cases involving vulnerable nursing home residents suffering injury were not capable of defending themselves after being exposed to unacceptable hazards and risks.
Many cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect occur through negligently hiring workers, not providing adequate training or understaffing in a facility operating on generating profits instead of providing required standards of care. Some incidents of neglect are the result of a systematic failure in the caregiving industry culture that does not correctly investigate violent acts that could have been avoided had the administration provided a secure and safe environment.
Not all forms of mistreatment are clearly identified to determine who is responsible for the harm. Government agencies use citations and monetary penalties to rectify cases of abuse in hopes of averting future problems. Below is just a small sample of some of the egregious actions of nursing home employees whose inappropriate behavior and lack of action led to a resident’s injury, harm or premature death.Failure to Protect Residents From all Forms of Abuse
Physical, mental and emotional abuse occurring in nursing facilities is illegal, under every circumstance. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents become the victims of abuse that result in bodily injury, pain or wrongful death by caregivers, employees, and other patients. Some patients suffer severe injuries with a mere slap or shove or are injured through neglect by caregivers providing substandard care. Serious concerns in New Jersey nursing homes involving abuse include:
- One resident was not protected from potential harm when an aggressive resident was allowed access to other residents (Manahawkin Convalescent Center)
- Three residents were not protected from resident-to-resident altercations involving physical abuse (Oceana Rehab and Nursing Center)
Fall-related injuries, hazardous situations, and dangerous environments can all lead to serious problems when employees fail to maintain a safe environment. Many nursing facility residents are injured due to poor lighting, wet floors, a lack of functional call buttons, poor foot care, tripping hazards, cluttered areas, and improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs. Common problems associated with accident hazards in New Jersey nursing facilities include:
- The home did not maintain a safe and hazard-free environment to protect residents (Complete Care at Linwood)
- Failure to provide supervision in the dining room when residents were around a hot temperature steam table (Health Center in Galloway)
- Residents were not protected from excessively hot water temperatures reaching 155° in bathrooms and restrooms (Laurel Bay Health and Rehab Center)
State and federal regulatory agencies mandate that all incidents, allegations or acts of abuse, neglect and mistreatment must be immediately investigated with the results reported to the State agency timely according to law. Inspectors and surveyors could impose monetary fines and issue citations for any failure to follow regulations. Some problems associated with a failure to investigate and report in New Jersey nursing homes include:
- The nursing home did not investigate the probable causes of injuries of unknown origin (JFK Hartwyck at Cedar Brook)
- Allegations of staff-to-resident neglect or staff-to-resident abuse were not investigated (Meadowview Nursing and Respiratory Care Center, Oceana Rehab and Nursing Center)
The nursing home must follow established protocols to prevent the spread of infection throughout the facility. Any failure to do so could be considered mistreatment. Common problems associated with contagious infections in New Jersey nursing homes include:
- The facility did not maintain a clean, safe and sanitary environment for individuals being tube fed (Amboy Care Center)
- A resident’s oxygen equipment was not properly stored in a sanitary manner (Care One of Evesham)
- There was a lack of following infection control procedures related to handwashing to minimize the spread of infection (Health Center at Galloway, JFK Hartwyck at Cedar Brook, Laurel Bay Health and Rehab Center, Mainland Manor Nursing and Rehab Center, Manahawkin Convalescent Center, Our Lady Center for Rehab & Health Care Center)
Nursing staff at some facilities will overmedicate residents to control them or keep them calm. Other times, the patient will be restrained with a bed rail, wheelchair seatbelt, or another device. To use a physical or chemical restraint, the nursing home must follow established protocols and obtain a physician’s orders and consent from the resident or the resident’s responsible party. Serious problems involving restraints in New Jersey nursing homes include:
- Failure to keep a resident free from physical restraint use by tying a sheet loosely around the resident’s waist (Voorhees Center)
The development of a decubitus ulcer, pressure sore, pressure wound, or bedsore can be severe and life-threatening if left untreated. Many factors can cause a pressure wound including immobility, dehydration, malnutrition, skin moisture from wet sheets or unchanged soiled briefs, or a lack of repositioning when in a chair, wheelchair or bed.
- The nursing facility did not provide a resident treatment to their wounds to promote healing (Complete Care at Linwood)
Other serious safety concerns involving an intentional act, negligence or mistreatment included a failure to notify a resident’s doctor or family member when there was a significant decline in the resident’s condition. Some nursing facilities did not maintain an effective pest control program to control rodents, flying insects and other pests.