An article published in Newsweek Magazine in March 2023 highlights the rising number of nursing home wrongful death cases due, in large part, to a devastating backlog of nursing home health inspections.
Since March 2020 when COVID-19 emergency protocols began, the federal government has eased annual inspection requirements for nursing homes. However, as a result, too many facilities and staff were not held accountable for low standards of care.
1 in 6 adults aged 60 or older suffered from abuse between 2017 and 2018, according to the World Health Organization. Experts believe this number has risen since the COVID-19 pandemic, but without regular inspections, data is limited.
In November 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reinstated inspection requirements and encouraged states to prioritize complaints of poor conditions. As of February 2023, about a third of the nation’s nursing homes are overdue for inspections. Many of the nursing homes still overdue have not received a proper inspection since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Without proper surveys and oversight, nursing home abuse and negligence may continue, putting millions of residents in danger. Lawsuits continue to be filed against facilities across the nation, with some of the worst conditions persisting in Kentucky, Idaho, and Maryland.
Inspection Backlog Made Worse With Nursing Home Understaffing
Tens of thousands of nurses left the nursing home and long-term care industry as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. Only a quarter of those workers have returned to the industry, leaving nursing homes with understaffing at its worst in recent history.
According to a report from the American Health Care Association (AHCA) released early this year, more than 80% of nursing homes are experiencing critical staffing shortages.
This issue is considered to be one of the leading causes of nursing home abuse. Without adequate staffing levels, existing staff members may be required to work long hours, increasing the likelihood of avoidable accidents and neglect.
Some examples of nursing home abuse and neglect caused by understaffing include:
Unfortunately, if clear steps are not taken to improve understaffing, the problem could only worsen in the coming years.
“We need policymakers to invest in long-term care, so we can compete for health care workers, transform America’s nursing homes, and prepare for a growing elderly population.”
— Mark Parkinson, AHCA President and CEO
The problem is not only within the nursing homes but also at the state level. Each state typically employs experienced registered nurses to perform routine inspections. However, Newsweek reports that several state surveyors in Kentucky felt “rushed to death” and too often ran out of time to complete paperwork detailing their findings.
With pay rates remaining stagnant, conditions in homes worsening, and a lack of adequate training and support from nursing home management and government officials, staff members are finding it difficult to remain within the nursing home and long-term care industry.
Finding Help With Nursing Home Wrongful Death Cases
According to the Newsweek article, one nursing home resident in Kentucky lost 23 pounds after only one month at the facility. A wrongful death lawsuit was filed after his death claiming he suffered malnutrition and dehydration while at the facility. It is just one of 6 lawsuits filed against the same facility.
This story is just one of many. Millions of innocent residents are put into dangerous conditions every day across the nation. Families are then left to grieve their loved ones far sooner than they should have.
Our team knows the toll these painful experiences can take on families. We are here to help. If your loved one passed away because the facility failed to keep them safe, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Nursing home abuse case values vary greatly, depending on the situation. However, some experts estimate the national average to be around $400,000. An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can help secure the most compensation for your case.
Hold negligent nursing homes accountable for the pain and suffering they have caused. Start your free case review today to find out how we can help.