Last month, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General announced a lawsuit filed against one of Pennsylvania’s largest nursing home operators which operates over dozens of nursing home and long term care facilities in this state. Fourteen of the thirty-six facilities are involved in the lawsuit.
The Attorney General stated, “As we allege, these companies profited at the expense of our most vulnerable residents. These facilities promised to provide the care needed by residents and then failed to meet residents’ most basic human needs.”
The allegations include violating the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, misleading consumers and failing to provide basic needs to elderly and at-risk residents. The legal action, in the form of a Complaint in Equity and Petition for an Injunction, alleges that the nursing home operator engaged in a pattern of poor quality care across multiple facilities.
Some of the alleged conduct includes:
- failure to provide adequate toileting or diapering care,
- failure to respond to call bells,
- failure to provide adequate assistance with personal hygiene,
- failure to turn immobile residents (increasing the risk of pressure or bed sores), and
- failure to provide timely meals to residents.
However, one of the most serious allegations is the claim that nursing home employees falsified records and treatment records at the direction of management or out of fear of management. In addition, the state investigation reviewed staffing levels and deficiency citations via the state’s Department of Health. According to a press release issued by the Office of the Attorney General, interviews of residents’ family members and former certified nurse assistants (CNAs) are alleged to have revealed a pattern of understaffing.
The Quality of Nursing Home Care in Pennsylvania
This recent case offers a glimpse into the world of nursing home care in PA. Regardless of whether the allegations are true or not, the reality is that nursing home care in this state is a serious issue. The very institutions that promise to care for vulnerable residents often put profits before care.
Understaffing is probably one of the most common causes of poor quality care in a nursing home setting. CNAs often perform much of the direct care tasks, such as assisting with activities of daily living (ADLs). In addition, CNAs are often tasked with some of the most challenging aspects of an elderly resident’s care, such as bathing, toileting, and dressing. It’s very often the case that CNAs receive the lowest amount of pay, but are overworked and understaffed. This is what leads to abuse, neglect and other accidents.
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