Coronavirus Update: Impact on Nursing Home Patients Learn More ›

Information and Lawsuits Involving Nursing Home Chains

information lawsuits nursing home chainsNursing home caregivers provide a valuable service to the aging, disabled, and infirmed communities. However, there is often a fundamental conflict between the facility owner's interests and the resident’s/family's needs.

Many nursing home chains provide excellent care for their residents while still generating enormous profits for their owners.

Unfortunately, some corporate-owned facilities view any resident care service over and above the standard as cutting profits.

The personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center LLC represent victims injured in nursing home facilities, rehab centers, and assisted-living facilities throughout the United States. We also represent surviving family members filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the healthcare provider to pay for hospitalization costs, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and burial costs.

Nursing Home Malpractice Injury FAQs

What Is an Example of Malpractice in Nursing?

Medical malpractice often involves physicians and surgeons, making errors that cause catastrophic results. However, nurse malpractice cases usually involve a mistake made by the nursing staff that could include:

  • Failure to monitor the patient's vitals and medical condition during their stay
  • Medication mistake where the nurse administers the wrong dose, the wrong drug to the right patient, or the right drug to the wrong patient
  • Routine procedure problems including a procedural mistake when drawing blood, inserting a catheter, starting an IV, or taking the patient's vitals
  • Documentation errors where the staff fail to record changes in the resident's condition that might include the dosage given, vital signs, medical mistakes, injuries from falls, or developing bedsores

Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Negligence?

Any victim has the right to file a civil lawsuit seeking compensation if the nursing staff or administration causes a resident to be harmed through negligence. A civil lawsuit might involve nursing staff failures, intentional acts, abusive behavior, or sexual assault.

Some examples of negligent lawsuits include:

  • Failure to provide every resident in a safe environment free of hazards
  • Negligent hiring practices of nursing staff who will neglect, abuse, or sexually assaulted a patient
  • Negligent supervision that fails to protect the resident from falling or suffering an injury
  • Failing to maintain established safety policies by keeping the environment sanitary and clean
  • Failing to provide the resident with necessary medical treatment
  • Neglecting the resident's medical issues that allowed the development of bedsores or infections, including Clostridium difficile and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Wrongful Death?

Surviving family members could file a civil lawsuit against the nursing staff, doctors, and nursing facility for any negligent or intentional act that led to their loved one's death. Survivors might recover damages through negotiated settlements and financial awards for their losses that could include:

  • Hospitalization costs and medical expenses
  • Loss of consortium and companionship
  • Medical treatments, rehabilitation, and therapies related to the incident
  • Non-tangible damages including mental anxiety, emotional distress, pain, and suffering
  • Funeral expenses and burial costs

How Long Does a Nursing Home Lawsuit Take?

Resolving a compensation claim or civil lawsuit could take upwards of two months or longer to resolve completely. Typically, nursing home neglect and abuse cases are settled out of court before a trial begins.

However, some defendants' insurance companies refuse to offer an acceptable settlement amount. In these cases, the plaintiff's attorneys will likely file a lawsuit against the defendant and present the evidence in front of a judge and jury.

These cases could take two years or longer to complete.

How Do You Prove Neglect?

The injured resident, or their attorney, will need to prove how the nursing staff was negligent, and their behavior led to the victim's injuries or wrongful death. The lawyer will show:

  • The resident's physical, mental, medical, and emotional needs were unmet by the nursing staff who failed to provide a standard of care
  • Evidence of negligence that might include photographs, audio, video, witness accounts, medical records, and documents

How Do You Deal with Nursing Home Problems?

Injured nursing home residents could mitigate their problems to maximize their health while staying at the facility. The rules of mitigation include:

  • Investigating the problem before making a formal complaint to the administration or nursing staff
  • Developing a good relationship with the registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nursing assistants
  • Getting involved in decisions made at the nursing home, including doctor's recommendations and procedures followed by the nursing staff
  • Reporting any severe lapse of the nursing staff providing care

Statistics on Nursing Facility Ownership

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately 15,600 nursing homes in the United States, with a total of 1.7 million beds. In 2018, expenditures on long-term care reached approximately $234 billion. Nearly seventy percent of these nursing homes have for-profit ownership.

Approximately fifty-two percent of all skilled nursing facility beds belong to for-profit chains. The largest chains have experienced growth in recent years as they have taken over failing smaller chains. In 2018, the top ten largest chains controlled a combined total of approximately 2,250 long-term care facilities. The number has grown since then.

Deteriorating Quality of Care in For-Profit Facilities

The quality of care that is provided in nursing facilities has deteriorated in this century. The United States Government Accountability Office has documented that the number of customer complaints about skilled nursing facilities has grown dramatically over the last fifteen years.

For example, the number of consumer complaints about California homes has more than tripled in that timeframe from 1.1 complaints against each home to five annually. On a state-by-state basis, there has been an increase in the number of complaints filed in thirty-three of the fifty states.

The centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revealed several disturbing trends in resident care facilities. One of these trends is an increase in private equity ownership of for-profit facilities.

While there is nothing that makes these transactions illegal, the practical impact could have harmful consequences for elderly residents and their families. When these transactions occur, the nursing facility owners seem to answer first to the investors and second to the residents' needs.

In this context, the corporate chains engage in transactions with related parties designed to increase profits for the investors. At the same time, the related companies they operate claim that they are experiencing financial difficulties.

Privately-owned for-profit facilities and corporate chains are often accused of cutting back staffing to enhance their profits. Adequate staffing is at the heart of operating a nursing facility since facilities must provide help for those who cannot help themselves.

Numerous negligence lawsuits against facilities for abusing and neglecting residents could have been avoided had the corporate owners ensured enough staff was available to provide care. Instead, some corporately owned facility chains consciously try to keep staffing to a bare minimum to inflate their profits.

Some states have tried to increase the minimum staffing levels required but have experienced fierce pushback from the for-profit chains. There have been several class-action lawsuits against long-term care facilities for inadequate staffing, especially in California.

Problems in care delivery are typically more acute at the larger nursing home chains. A 2011 study from the University of California at San Francisco showed that the ten largest nursing home chains had the lowest staffing level in the nursing home industry.

The study found that non-profit and government-owned homes had far higher staffing levels than homes owned by large chains. Staffing levels tend to be predictive of several other vital issues, including the number of deficiencies that each home has on its inspections and the health of the residents.

The study also found that the number of deficiencies in nursing home chains that were purchased by private equity funds increased after the transaction.

Major Nursing Home Chains in the United States

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Medicare.gov), under the guidance of the US Department of Health and Human Services, regulates nursing homes and assisted living centers for the federal government. The leading senior living facilities throughout the United States include:

  • Life Care Centers of America
  • Genesis Healthcare
  • HCR ManorCare
  • Sava Senior Care
  • Brookdale Senior Living
  • Atria Senior Living
  • Golden Living
  • Consulate Healthcare
  • Good Samaritan Society
  • Signature Healthcare
  • Ensign Group

Many senior health system chains provide services for nursing home residents in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

How Staffing Levels Affect Care Provided to Elderly Patients

Low staffing levels flow through to several areas that affect the resident's daily life and overall health. Each of these areas has been the subject of lawsuits against the facility.

For example, bedsores are one of the most common grounds in negligence lawsuits against rehabilitation centers. Pressure sores (bedsores, pressure wounds, pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers) occur when staff members leave residents in one position for too long.

The nursing assistants should shift the position of residents diagnosed at high risk for pressure ulcers at least one time every two hours. Immobilization longer than two hours could cause the skin to break down.

The patient could develop life-threatening conditions, including sepsis (blood infection) and osteomyelitis (bone infection), if the nursing staff fails to provide appropriate infection control measures when treating bedsores.

When nursing chains do not have enough staff, nobody can move the residents, resulting in higher incidents of pressure ulcers. Also, corporate facilities that are understaffed experience falls by their residents at a higher rate.

There have been lawsuits against nursing homes that have alleged that understaffed homes have attempted to move residents with one CNA as opposed to the two that were required by the resident's care orders.

There have been other lawsuits against nursing homes alleging that residents suffered the injury when their call light was ignored and tried to move when they were unable.

Further, understaffed nursing homes tend to make mistakes in other areas, such as the resident's care. Sometimes, this means that nursing homes fail to follow physician's orders for medical care.

Other times, it means that residents are at higher risk of infection because showers are not given, and catheters are not changed. While better staffing protocols do not prevent all errors and omissions, there is a correlation between adequately staffed homes and homes that are fully compliant with nursing home regulations.

Do You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse in a Corporately Owned Chain? Speak with an Attorney Now

When your loved one has suffered an injury at a nursing home due to problems such as these, you do not merely have to accept it and move on. You could retain a lawyer and file a compensation claim against the for-profit nursing home, primarily when the injury suffered by your loved one occurred at a chronically understaffed facility.

You might be eligible for financial compensation from the nursing home chain for the harm that your loved one has suffered. Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Our attorneys follow social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus).

Resources:

Client Reviews

★★★★★
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
★★★★★
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric