Are Nursing Homes Getting the Green Light to Abuse the Elderly?
At the end of 2017, President Trump removed many of the regulations and reduced the fines that help protect residents from unscrupulous behaviors and wanton acts of violence within nursing home facilities. In doing so, the administration has placed the 3.2 million residents of the country’s more than 15,000 nursing homes in danger.
Fines and Citations
Since 2013, more than 6,500 nursing homes have received at least one citation for serious violations ranging from ignoring sanitary protocols to deficiencies in employee training and monitoring. In fact, over the past four years, 75% of nursing homes have received at least one citation for violation of infection controls. State and federal agencies such as Medicare utilize fines and penalties as deterrents to behaviors and practices that place patients at risk of physical harm, emotional abuse, or financial exploitation.
Providers Over Patients
Following requests from lobbyists from the nursing home industry and with the support of the American Health Care Association, President Trump removed a significant number of regulations that were put in place by President Obama that placed stricter oversight over the nursing home industry. Lobbyists argued that these regulations and the fines they prescribed for violations were overly burdensome and that regulators were more interested in collecting fines than improving resident care and safety.
Greenlighting Elder Abuse
Approximately 1 in every 10 elderly citizens will suffer some form of elder abuse. This abuse frequently occurs at the hands of caregivers and nursing home staff. Social isolation, age, failing memories, and frail bodies place nursing home residents at significant risk of abuse. Fines and citations are defenses that deter abuse and help to put repeat offenders out of business. While the administration will continue to seek fines for serious violations of nursing home neglect and abuse, these fines amount to mere slaps on the wrists for actions that put patient health and safety in jeopardy.
With these recent changes, the onus of protecting the elderly has shifted from regulators to family members and loved ones. One of the most effective ways to do this is to carefully review the nursing home’s record of violations and take active steps to remove loved ones from facilities that have a history of violating resident’s rights to safety and quality care.