legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Homes in South Carolina
There are 187 nursing homes in South Carolina, according to Medicare.gov. Of these skilled nursing facilities, 108 (58%) are ranked at or above the national average. According to the Medicare and Medicaid program, the remaining 79 (32%) are ranked below average.
Nursing homes are often considered places where elderly people live out their final years peacefully. South Carolina nursing homes offer a safe environment where they can receive medical care and social services.
Unfortunately, nursing homes also provide a place where vulnerable adults are abused or neglected.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), over 3 million Americans live in nursing facilities yearly. Most abused residents have Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia.
If you suspect that someone living in a nursing home is being mistreated, call the police immediately.
Below is a small sample of serious violations occurring at South Carolina nursing homes, assisted living communities, and rehabilitation centers.
Failure to Report and Investigate Any Act or Reports of Abuse, Neglect, or Mistreatment
Anyone who sees or hears anything suspicious at the nursing home must immediately notify the administrator and state agency. They are legally obligated to investigate these matters thoroughly. A serious concern includes not investigating properly and failing to follow up on complaints.
Common problems with elopement, abuse, neglect, and mistreatment in nursing homes in South Carolina include:
- Failure to provide adequate supervision to prevent elopement (wandering away) after the resident exited the facility without proper authorization or necessary supervision and the staff did not identify the patient was gone until they were found on Spanish Point Drive (0.2 miles away) by the police, who transported the resident to the hospital. (Bay View Manor Skilled Nursing Home)
- Failure to ensure a resident was free from abuse after a certified Nursing Aide hit the patient on the arm during a combative episode. (Bay View Manor Skilled Nursing Home)
- Failure to ensure neglect did not occur by providing adequate supervision to prevent elopement after a patient exited the nursing care home unassisted and was found by a nursing home staff member on the road with his walker. (Brian Center Nursing Home – Saint Andrews)
- Failure to ensure seven residents were free from resident-to-resident abuse after the nursing home failed to provide sufficient monitoring, supervision, and interventions involving an altercation between residents. (Carlyle Senior Care of Aiken)
- Failure to provide adequate supervision for one resident related to wandering as the local police found the patient at a nearby residence two blocks away from the nursing home in 57° weather. They were transported to the hospital and discharged with a right lower wrist skin tear. (Conway Manor Skilled Nursing Home)
- Failure to protect one resident from neglect after a successful elopement from the facility in March 2022 after a Registered Nurse and Certified Nursing Aides failed to provide adequate care and supervision during their shift. The resident was not identified as missing until over six hours later and was found in the middle of the night by the police about 1.5 miles away. (Greenville Post Acute Skilled Nursing Home)
- Failure to provide adequate supervision for one resident After a successful elopement in December 2021 and found by the local police 0.5 miles away in front of South State Bank. (Heritage Home of Florence Skilled Nursing Center)
- Failure to protect one from involuntary seclusion when a Registered Nurse held the resident in her room for a few seconds before releasing the door and allowing the patient to leave. (Magnolia Place – Spartanburg Skilled Nursing Center)
- Failure to protect a resident from verbal abuse by a certified Nursing Aide who was aggressive when turning a resident over to change a soiled brief, using an unprofessional tone while providing care that was witnessed by others (Poinsett Rehabilitation and Health Care Center)
- Failure to provide a resident with adequate supervision and safe support relating to wandering after local police found the patient at 3:18 AM 4.2 miles away from the nursing home without injuries when video surveillance revealed a Certified Nursing Assistant disarming an alarm system earlier when opening the rear door to go out to smoke. (Pruitthealth – Ridgeway Skilled Nursing Facility)
- Failure to ensure a resident was free from abuse or neglect after staff left the patient naked and exposed in bed on two occasions within the same day, leaving the resident upset, crying, and feeling humiliated. (Sandpiper Post-Acute Skilled Nursing Home)
- Failure to provide adequate supervision for a resident reviewed for wandering after a successful elopement in December 2021 at an unknown time, followed by a second elopement in the afternoon the next day. (Skylynn Nursing and Rehab Center)
- Failure to ensure a resident was free from abuse or neglect after the nursing staff failed to prevent the patient from eloping in January 2022 at 4:30 AM while wearing a wander guard that did not alarm, but without shoes or a jacket before a laundry aide found the resident when the temperature was chilly in the mid-30s. (Viviant Health Care of Hanahan)
Failure to Ensure Residents Receive Proper Treatment to Prevent Bedsores
Bedsore prevention is vital for everyone who has to stay in bed or recline for a long time. It is especially true for elderly patients who often suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes or arthritis. The problem is that these patients risk developing pressure ulcers (bedsores).
There are serious concerns regarding the development of pressure sores at nursing homes in South Carolina, including:
- Failure to ensure one resident receives proper care and treatment for a pressure ulcer on the coccyx after surveyors recognized that the facility did not have a wound care doctor during November 2021 and the patient was not seen then. (Brian Center Nursing Care – Saint Andrews)
- Failure to provide appropriate wound care for two residents who developed bedsores after a Registered Nurse failed to follow protocols when treating the wounds. (Conway Manor Skilled Nursing Facility)
- Failure to timely respond to an undetected necrotic pressure ulcer until the resident had a temperature of 101.1°F, delaying the treatment necessary to maintain the resident's well-being. (McCoy Memorial Nursing Center)
Failing to Prevent Accident Hazards in South Carolina Nursing Homes
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, nursing homes must follow strict regulations regarding patient care. These rules ensure that each resident can access necessities, including food, water, and shelter.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also requires nursing homes to report specific injuries and deaths to state authorities. Any failure to comply with the regulations and requirements could result in penalties and fines.
Contributing factors that lead to accident hazards causing severe injury, harm, and death in nursing homes in South Carolina include:
- Inadequate Training: Staff members who are not adequately trained in how to safely care for elderly residents can pose a serious hazard. For example, many staff members may not know the importance of fall prevention or how to lift and transfer residents properly.
- Poor Communication: Staff members may not be able to effectively communicate with one another about residents' care needs, which can lead to unsafe situations.
- Lack of Supervision: Staff may not be adequately supervised, leading to unsafe practices like leaving residents unattended in bathrooms or during transfers.
- Limited Knowledge of Residents' Health Conditions: Staff may not be aware of residents' health conditions and any special precautions to be taken when providing care. It can lead to dangerous interactions between medications or allergies.
- Ineffective Safety Policies: South Carolina nursing homes may have safety policies in place, but they may not be effectively implemented or followed by staff. For example, many long-term care facilities have policies prohibiting residents from climbing on furniture, but staff may not enforce this policy or be aware of it.
- Lack of Resident Monitoring: South Carolina nursing homes may not have systems to regularly monitor resident activity and identify potential hazards. It can allow for dangerous situations like residents being left alone in the bathroom for a long time.
- Deficient Housekeeping Practices: Poor housekeeping practices can create numerous accident hazards for residents, such as slippery floors, cords and wires lying around the floor, and cluttered walkways and hallways.
- Faulty Equipment: Nursing home equipment can often malfunction and cause accidents if improperly maintained. Examples include faulty bed alarms that fail to go off when a resident gets out of bed, old and rusty wheelchairs that are difficult to maneuver, and beds that are too low to the ground, making it difficult for residents to get up independently.
- Poorly Designed Facilities: Poorly designed South Carolina nursing homes can also pose many accident hazards for residents. For example, stairs without handrails, narrow corridors, and small bathrooms can make it difficult for residents to move around safely.
Preventable Bedsores in South Carolina Nursing Homes
Pressure sores (Bedsores, pressure ulcers, pressure wounds, decubitus ulcers) occur when soft tissue becomes damaged due to prolonged pressure, restricting blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen.
Pressure wounds usually develop in areas where bony prominences exist, such as heels, elbows, knees, hips, shoulders, buttocks, and head. Pressure ulcers can also affect other body parts, such as fingers, toes, hands, feet, ears, nose, lips, cheeks, scalp, neck, back, and genitals.
Pressure ulcer prevention is crucial for anyone who stays in bed or reclines for extended periods. Unfortunately, many elderly patients don't get enough attention to their skincare. In some cases, they even neglect basic hygiene practices.
Contributing factors leading to the development of pressure wounds in South Carolina nursing homes include:
- Failing to readjust a mobility-challenged resident at least once every 90 minutes: Some disabled, elderly, and paralyzed residents require assistance to readjust their body weight to eliminate restricted blood flow to the skin, which could lead to developing a pressure wound.
- Not conducting regular repositioning assessments: The staff in all nursing homes should regularly check residents for any changes in their condition that would require them to be repositioned.
- Not providing proper support while turning residents: Incorrect support while turning or transporting can cause residents to become susceptible to bedsores.
- Failing to use pressure-relieving devices: Pressure-relieving devices help redistribute pressure and prevent the development of bedsores.
- Not providing enough staff to rotate shifts: South Carolina nursing homes that do not rotate staff shifts can lead to residents being left in the same position for extended periods, increasing their chances of developing bedsores.
- Allowing residents to remain in wet clothing or bedding for extended periods: It can cause moisture-associated skin damage and increase the likelihood of developing bedsores.
- Putting restraints on residents for prolonged periods: It restricts movement and increases the chances of developing pressure sores.
- Ignoring red flags for potential bedsores: Staff should be aware of the early warning signs of bedsores and address them as soon as possible.
- Not providing proper nutrition and hydration: A lack of adequate nutrition and hydration in South Carolina nursing homes can weaken the skin and make it more susceptible to developing bedsores.
- Not cleaning or changing bedding often enough: It can create an environment where bacteria can thrive and develop bedsores.
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, all skilled nursing facilities must meet state and federal requirements when providing short-stay long-term care to South Carolina residents.
South Carolina Nursing Home Resident Rights
The rights of South Carolina nursing home residents are protected by state and federal law. These laws define the duties of the staff and provide guidelines for how nursing homes must operate.
Unfortunately, not all nursing homes follow these laws, and residents are sometimes mistreated.
Nursing Home Resident Rights Under Federal Law
The Nursing Home Reform Act is a federal law that establishes the rights of nursing home residents. The law requires caregivers to provide residents with quality nursing home care and to treat them with dignity and respect. The law also gives residents the right to privacy, the right to exercise self-determination, and the right to be free from physical or mental abuse.
If a nursing facility violates any of these rights. In that case, residents have the right to file a complaint with the state department that licenses and regulates nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. Residents also have the right to hire an attorney and take legal action against the caregiving home.
Nursing Home Resident Rights Under State Law
In addition to the protections provided by federal law, every state has its own laws governing nursing homes. These laws may give residents more rights or impose additional duties on nursing homes. For example, some states require nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities to allow residents to have visitors anytime or at night.
It's important to note that even if state law does provide additional protections for residents, federal law always takes precedence. This right means that if there is a conflict between state and federal law, the provisions of federal law will apply.
Residents have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. It includes the right to privacy, the right to be free from physical and mental abuse, and the right to make decisions about their own care. Nursing home residents also have the right to receive adequate medical care and access to their medical records.