We recently discussed the case of Donald Brown, a nursing home patient who had a prolific life as an attorney and legislator in Texas. Despite Mr. Brown’s professional accomplishments, he found himself in a situation encountered by folks from all walks of life—neglect in a nursing home.
Now, his daughter is pursuing a nursing home lawsuit against the facility (Willis Nursing and Rehabilitation) where he developed advanced stage bed sores and subsequently died.
A Texas television station now has look deeper into the complaints made against this facility and skilled nursing facilities across the state of Texas. An examination of nursing home complaints, certainly leaves one with the impression that the Department of Aging and Disability Services takes little regulatory action on the complaints it receives..
According to the 11-News report related to Texas nursing homes in 2009:
- 16,000 complaints were registered against the approximately 1,100 Texas nursing homes
- Just 37 out of the 16,000 nursing home complaints resulted in administrative penalties against the facility
- A lonely 1 out of 16,000 facilities had their license revoked following nursing home inspection findings
- No nursing home had its license suspended following the state inspections
While I imagine that there is a noticeable contingent of nursing home complaints made by disgruntled families who may file a complaint due to an issue to with an employee or simply out of frustration with their loved ones physical problems. There certainly appears to be a very cautions approach by the agency while inspecting these facilities.
For every complaint made relative a ‘minor issue’, I am certain that there are many well-grounded complaints my by families with a legitimate grievance. Case in point, Mr. Brown’s daughter Celia Brown, who was genuinely alarmed by the rapid onset and deterioration of bed sores her father developed during his rehabilitation stay at Willis Nursing and Rehabilitation. Yet an investigation by officials determined there were no violations on the part of the facility.
Given the track-record of weak enforcement, you really can’t be surprised by the fact that Texas officials did not cite the facility for any of the negligent care alleged. As a lawyer who represents families in nursing home abuse and neglect matters, I urge all regulatory agencies to re-evaluate how they handle the complaints they receive.
Until regulatory agencies decide to flex some muscle with respect to disciplining facilities, there is little hope of improved care. I humbly believe that unless facilities fear both sanctions from regulators as well as accumulating a series of violations on their record, poor care will endure.