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Are Protective Agencies Doing Enough To Protect Nursing Home Patients?

Enough To Protect Nursing Home PatientsWhen it comes down to it, absent situations involving serious crimes where police are involved, it is up to regulatory agencies– primarily those within the state–  to ensure that nursing home patients are properly looked after when they are in a facility.  But, what happens when the agencies with this important responsibility fail to properly do their jobs and situations involving poor care are permitted to exist– or even flourish after the agency has supposedly disciplined the facility.

I suspect that if you ask Tom Masseau of the Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services (MPAS), he’d suggest that the state’s regulatory agencies need to take a much stronger position when it comes to both overseeing fragile nursing home patients and ensuring that facilities actions necessary to eradicate unacceptable conditions at their facilities.

Highlighting two episodes of horrific patient care involving Michigan nursing homes, Masseau chronicles how nursing problems are allowed to persist even after state surveyors note their violations.  In particular, two episodes involving severely neglected nursing home patients with maggots literally infesting the patient were documented by state officials during inspections, yet no follow-up was done to assure that these filthy conditions were rectified.

Maggots, yes maggots…

The first repulsive example of neglect involves a female patient living in a Michigan nursing home with maggots in her genitalia and an undiagnosed / untreated hip fracture.  Similarly, another disturbing incident the MPAS report highlights involves an episode where maggots were allowed to infiltrates a patient’s tracheotomy tube.  In fact, the trach had become so full of maggots that they needed to be suctioned by staff.

While both of these unacceptable conditions were documented by officials with the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in the form of written reports, the MPAS report notes little follow through on the part of the state state to ensure that the situations were properly corrected— or that other patients were not suffering from similar plights.

While I sympathize with the plight of many agencies that recently have had their budgets slashed by lawmakers, I find the mere existence of this conditions simply unacceptable.  As the regulatory agency essentially responsible for policing nursing homes, it is essential that these conditions are both properly documented by surveyors and forcibly corrected to ensure that other patients don’t suffer similar plights.  If these agencies don’t correct these dangerous problems then who will?

Learn more about the critiques of Michigan nursing homes here.

Related Nursing Homes Abuse Blog Entries:

Learning About Nursing Homes, Part 1: Nursing Home Surveys

Who Regulates Nursing Homes?

Nursing Home Surveyor Explains Applicability Of Federal & State Nursing Home Regulations

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