By: David Rheingold
Negligent and even intentional neglect of a very vulnerable population, nursing home residents, has been a battle front for our firm over several decades. We have settled cases for simple neglect as well as wrongful death. Our firm has trial partners experienced in both the negligence and medical malpractice aspects of these cases.
Now there is a tool to help concerned family members get more detailed reports of nursing homes, before a loved one enters the home, which includes inspection grades as well as fines. The well respected non-profit news agency ProPublica has created the online site "Nursing Home Inspect" that can be accessed through ProPublica's website. There is detailed grading system which evaluates frequency and severity of problems.
Our review of it leads us to strongly encourage others to review the data. In our litigation, we see repeating areas of problems. There tend to be patterns of substandard care which leads to deteriorating health. Due to the inability of residents to report problems, the damage can be significant before it is noticed by loved ones. Older residents may be unable to verbally communicate or be too mentally disabled, such as with Alzheimer's disease. We have also encountered improper medical treatment which is not documented in medical records. Or, the medical history may be falsely reported. Our nursing staff and medical consultants usually spot inconsistencies quickly.
Of course, the best prevention would be to make sure nursing home patients are not injured to begin with. We hope ProPublica's site, as well as others, are strong steps in the right direction.