The American Association for Justice (AAJ) recently published “Standing Up for Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans” which does a tremendous job personalizing many of the common problems facing elderly in nursing homes:
- Chemical Restraints
- Forced Arbitration
- Insurance Denials
- Bed Rail Deaths
- Medical Errors
Unfortunately, as our population ages, more and more people will become reliant on a nursing home system that is geared more towards returning handsome profits to corporate owners than to proving quality medical care.
The influx of corporate owners of nursing homes, many of which have no nursing or medical background, knows that two main factors drive nursing home profits: 1) keeping occupancy rates as high as possible, and 2) reducing staffing levels. This dangerous combination of more nursing home patients and fewer staff to care for them is a driving force behind the problems enumerated above.
Statistics demonstrate the trouble with corporate ownership and understaffing. Corporately owned nursing homes have 32% fewer nurses and 47% higher deficiencies that their non-profit counterparts.
The desire to put profitability over patient care, encourages many corporate owners to maintain the status quo as long as feasible. Meager regulatory fines further provide little economic incentive for owners to make changes to improve patient care. As the AAJ article stresses, private enforcement of nursing home negligence though our court system provide the most effective road to improving patient care—across the board.