Faced a situation where a nursing home was providing inadequate or dangerous care to its patients, officials at the Department of Public Health– the regulatory agency for Illinois Nursing Homes— had relatively little in their arsenal when it comes to prodding along facilities. That is, until now.
Recently, the Illinois Appellate Court tossed out a Sangamon County judge’s ruling that capped fines imposed by the Illinois Department of Public Health at $10,000. In the case involving Peoria’s Rosewood Care Center and The Illinois Department of Health, Judge Leo Zappa ruled in favor of Rosewood in a matter involving a $20,000 fine imposed against the facility for the death of a patient. Zappa determined that the fine was improper due to the fact that it was illegally inflated and conflicted with state law.
Despite the Appellate Court decision, Illinois officials will continue to use their approach of imposing multiple fines against poorly performing facilities in lieu of more substantial single fines.
“A fine is one of the few things we can do to make sure a nursing home is compliant with the law,” says Illinois Department of Health spokesperson Melanie Arnold.
I agree. However, until the significance of the fines reaches the point where they pose an actual threat to the livelihood of the nursing home owners and operators, they will not have their intended impact when it comes to motivating facilities to provide quality medical care to patients in need.
Thankfully, our legal system allows nursing home patients who receive poor or negligent care to pursue a claim for damages against the facility under the Nursing Home Care Act. When pursuing a claim under the act, a patient has no financial limit on the damages they may recover from the facility.
For laws related to Illinois nursing homes, look here.
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