Private Equity Owners Increase Deaths at Nursing HomesNursing Home Abuse
Nursing homes are proving to be big business, which is tragic news for those whose relatives live in the facilities. As private equity (PE) firms increasingly purchase these homes, an alarming trend has emerged: Cost-cutting investors are trimming staff to boost revenues, putting residents at risk of serious injury and death.
If your loved one lives in a nursing home owned by a private equity firm, they may be at a heightened risk of death. If something goes wrong, you can sue the private equity firm or other liable parties for the losses your loved one suffers.
Private Equity Investment Has Skyrocketed, to Devastating Effect
Weill Cornell Medicine explains that private equity firms’ investments in nursing homes have risen significantly since 2010. About 5 percent of all the nursing homes in the United States were owned by PE firms as of 2021, as these investors apparently see nursing homes as a profitable business model.
Cornell Medicine also points out, as others have, that PE ownership has led to lower-quality care for nursing home residents.
Compared with non-PE-owned nursing homes, Weill Cornell Medicine found that residents at private-equity-owned nursing homes:
- Have more visits to the emergency room
- Have more hospitalizations
- Suffer preventable health complications, like those from diabetes, at an increased rate
In short, residents at PE-owned nursing homes are in greater danger than those who live at non-PE-owned nursing homes.
Why Private Equity-Owned Nursing Homes Are More Dangerous
Though most nursing homes run on a for-profit model, the imperative for private equity firms to turn a profit is unusually great. These firms specialize in cutting costs to increase profits. As The New Yorker points out, in nursing homes, cutting costs generally means cutting staff.
Even more concerning is that the clearest way to increase revenue for a nursing home is to increase occupancy.
This means that private equity firms seeking a return on their investments will generally:
- Decrease staff in the nursing home
- Increase the number of residents in the nursing home
Any one of these measures can lead to lesser health outcomes for nursing home residents. When a nursing home employs both of these measures simultaneously, the result is catastrophic.
Other Hazards That May Occur at PE-Owned Nursing Homes
When a nursing home trims costs in an effort to increase profits, understaffing is likely not the only cost-saving measure.
When a private equity firm purchases a nursing home, it may also:
- Fire some or all of the highest-paid employees, who may have medical skills, extensive experience, or other qualifications that help ensure resident safety
- Sell valuable items within the nursing home, which could include electronics used to monitor residents or even critical medical equipment
- Hire employees who will accept compensation below the market value, despite the likelihood that these employees will be underqualified
- Cut corners in caregiving practices as a means of saving money
- Prioritize cost-cutting over resident safety
To those who might have, or one day have, a loved one in a nursing home, these realities may be difficult to accept. For certain private equity firms, though, trimming costs regardless of consequences is simply the way of doing business.
If private equity firms that understaff their facilities cared about the residents’ well-being, they should stop understaffing practices. Instead, the statistics show that these firms are continuing their dangerous practices and costing lives as a consequence.
The Data Shows That Private Equity Nursing Home Ownership Puts Lives at Risk
There is no shortage of data indicating that if a private equity firm buys a nursing home, you do not want your loved one living in that nursing home.
Some relevant statistics include:
- Patient mortality rates at private equity-owned nursing homes are 10 percent higher than at non-PE-owned facilities.
- An estimated 20,150 nursing home residents lost their lives over a 12-year period because of measures taken by private equity firms.
- PE firms purchased about 1,700 nursing homes between 2004 and 2019, indicating that many nursing home residents are currently at risk of health complications resulting from cost-cutting measures.
- Spending on nursing home residents in PE-owned facilities is 11 percent higher per patient, indicating that PE firms are charging more for substandard care.
The incentive for private equity firms to maximize financial returns is bad news for nursing home residents. These firms can be legally responsible when they cause avoidable health problems and death.
What to Do If Your Loved One Suffers Because of a Private Equity Firm’s Cost-Cutting Measures
If your loved one lives or lived in a PE-owned nursing home, they may have received worse care than they were entitled to.
As a consequence of a private equity firm’s decisions regarding the nursing home, your loved one may have:
- Experienced feelings of fear, isolation, and helplessness due to poor hiring practices at the nursing home
- Suffered an illness or injury because of subpar care
- Suffered abuse, neglect, or other unacceptable practices because they lacked the necessary supervision
- Met a preventable death as a result of a private equity firm’s decisions
If your loved one suffered any adverse outcome because of a PE firm’s risky cost-cutting, the nursing home (and private equity firm) might be financially liable. You can hire a lawyer to review your legal options and pursue the settlement your loved one deserves.
Who Should Hire a Lawyer to Hold a Private Equity Firm Accountable for Negligence?
There are two classes of people who may hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit for negligence related to a nursing home:
- Residents of nursing homes who personally suffered abuse or neglect
- Loved ones of residents who cannot represent themselves or who have passed away because of dangerous conditions in a nursing home
Younger loved ones often represent elderly relatives in nursing home-related lawsuits. If your loved one has suffered harm in any nursing home, PE-owned or not, you can hire an attorney to hold liable parties accountable.
Signs That Your Loved One May Be Suffering Abuse or Neglect in a Private Equity-Owned Nursing Home
When you house your loved one in a nursing home, you may not even consider whether a private equity firm owns the facility. After discovering the dangers of PE-owned nursing homes, you may view your loved one’s home in a more critical light.
As you take a closer look at the quality of care in your loved one’s nursing home, look for possible signs of abuse or neglect.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) lists indications of elder mistreatment, which include:
- Social withdrawal
- Unexplained physical injuries
- A dirty, disheveled, or otherwise abnormal appearance
- Bed sores
- Dirty living conditions
- Soiled clothing
- A full bedpan
Pay close attention whenever you visit your loved one. Does it seem as if caregivers are helping them with medications, feeding, and trips to the bathroom? Do you believe that administrators and caregivers are closely monitoring your loved one? If the answer to these questions is “no,” your loved one can be at great risk of injuries, illnesses, and fatal events.
Abuse and neglect are different forms of mistreatment. Neither of these types of mistreatment is acceptable. If you suspect that your loved one has received substandard care or is the victim of abuse, we will work to hold liable parties accountable.
A Lawyer Can Help You Investigate Potential Nursing Home Neglect
If your loved one is in a nursing home, you may be unable to fully investigate their living conditions. Our attorneys can take over the investigation, relying on our own investigators to uncover any abuse or neglect your loved one has suffered.
It is our job to identify and seek justice for elder mistreatment.
When you hire a lawyer you:
- Initiate a full-fledged investigation into your loved one’s living conditions
- Ensure that a capable team is working to ensure your loved one’s safety
- Can continue to focus on your personal responsibilities without wondering if your loved one is in danger
Our clients want to protect their loved ones but often need help. An attorney will leave no doubt about your loved one’s quality of life. If your lawyer uncovers mistreatment, your attorney will file a lawsuit against liable parties.
How a Lawyer Will Seek Justice for Elder Mistreatment
There is no excuse for abusing or neglecting the elderly. Private equity firms’ excuse for allowing cutting costs and increasing profits is particularly unacceptable. An attorney will work to hold neglectful parties liable for endangering your loved one.
Nursing home abuse attorneys generally help victims of elder mistreatment (and their loved ones) by:
- Gathering evidence of negligence: There are ways to prove that a PE-owned nursing home failed to employ the necessary staff. Video footage, photographs of your loved one’s injuries and living conditions, and witness accounts may help prove individual instances of abuse and neglect.
- Documenting the victim’s damages: A lawyer can photograph injuries, provide medical records, and gather financial records to detail a victim’s damages.
- Calculating the cost of damages: In addition to documenting damages, a nursing home injury lawyer can calculate the precise cost of a victim’s losses.
- Handling all aspects of a lawsuit: An attorney will manage the entire legal processing, from drafting and filing paperwork to managing communications and completing any necessary trial.
A lawyer will generally seek a settlement for their client. Liable parties may agree to compensate a victim fairly, and in these cases, no trial is necessary. When liable parties refuse to provide fair compensation to a victim, the victim’s attorney may proceed to trial.
Can I Afford an Attorney for a Nursing Home Mistreatment Lawsuit?
Yes. Lawyers who handle elder mistreatment cases generally use contingency fees. These lawyers want to represent the greatest number of abuse and neglect victims they can, so they charge the client no out-of-pocket or upfront fee.
Instead, injury law firms receive a percentage of any settlement or verdict they secure for the client. The firm covers case-related expenses, knowing they will recover these costs if they win for their client.
If a lawyer does not get a settlement or judgment for your loved one, their firm will receive no compensation from you. This way, you won’t have to worry about paying legal fees from your personal finances.
How Should I Choose a Lawyer for an Elder Mistreatment Case?
You may choose a law firm that:
- Counts nursing home abuse and neglect cases among its practice areas
- Has verified case results
- Has strong client testimonials
- Is transparent and honest with you during your free consultation
You may use both objective standards and your gut when hiring a lawyer. If a law firm checks all the right boxes and gives an air of trustworthiness, you may hire them to seek justice for elder mistreatment.
Call a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation
Whether you want justice for the death of a loved one or are seeking justice for a loved one who is still with us, a nursing home injury lawyer can help. Reach out to injury law firms serving your area today. You can complete free consultations and pick the right firm for you.
Nathan Hughey, an attorney and fourth-generation South Carolinian, founded Hughey Law Firm in 2007. Before that, he spent five years defending nursing homes and insurance companies. Leveraging his experience, he now advocates for those injured or wronged by such entities, securing over $220 million in verdicts and settlements.