South Carolina tied with California for the greatest number of complaints of elder abuse, gross neglect, and exploitation in the country.
South Carolina tied six other states for allocating the lowest amount of funding to prevent elder abuse.
In addition to state laws, federal laws, which require annual health and fire safety inspections, protect South Carolina nursing home residents. These inspections are available for public view for all facilities accepting Medicare and Medicaid residents. Below are the results of recent health inspections for NHC Healthcare – Laurens.
Health inspections are not the only thing you should consider when choosing a nursing home. Make a tour of the facility you’re interested in and thorough interviews of administrators and staff part of the process. Some conditions to be wary of during your tour include staff members who seem frantic or overworked, a lack of warm interactions between staff and residents, call lights to which staff do not promptly respond, dirty conditions at the facility or residents who look like they haven’t been bathed or changed into clean clothes, or residents who appear to be over-medicated or who are left alone for long periods of time.
Meanwhile, if you or your loved one suffered abuse at NHC Healthcare – Laurens or any other facility in South Carolina, make sure you call the experienced, compassionate elder abuse and neglect lawyers at the Hughey Law Firm. We know how to fight for people who have needlessly suffered due to the greed and malfeasance of nursing homes that don’t properly care for the people they’re charged to help.
About NHC Healthcare – Laurens
The Hughey Law Firm has successfully pursued claims against this facility.
NHC Healthcare – Laurens is a large skilled nursing facility in Laurens, South Carolina, that features 176 certified beds. The facility is owned by a for-profit corporation, and currently has a rating from the Centers for Medicare/ Medicaid Services based on three criteria: health inspections, quality measures, and staffing. The average resident—including short stay and long-term care residents—stays at the facility for 29.1 days, at a cost of $479.76 per day billed to Medicare. The average resident age at NHC Healthcare – Laurens is 79 years old.
Residents at this facility have the following needs requiring special care:
Rheumatoid Arthritis or Osteoarthritis: 63.185 percent.
Asthma: 18.75 percent.
Diabetes: 51.25 percent.
Schizophrenia: 18.125 percent.
Cancer: 11.875 percent.
Hyperlipidemia: 68.125 percent.
Stroke: 23.75 percent.
Congestive Heart Failure: 54.375 percent.
Ischemic Heart Disease: 49.375 percent.
November 2018 Inspection (4 Failures)
The health inspections of NHC Healthcare – Laurens conducted in November 2016 and November 2017 revealed no deficiencies. The inspection conducted in November 2018, however, revealed four deficiencies, none of which resulted in penalties against the facility. Those deficiencies were:
Failure to ensure medication error rates are not 5 percent or greater. Observation and interviews revealed two medication errors out of 25 opportunities, raising the facility’s error rate to 8 percent. An inspector observed a staff member administering medication to a patient with a gastrostomy tube. After the medication was administered, the inspector observed that a significant amount of two of the types of medication remained in the cups where they were mixed.
Failure to ensure drugs and biologicals used in the facility are labeled in accordance with currently accepted professional principles and that all drugs and biologicals are stored in locked compartments, including separately locked compartments for controlled drugs. CMS inspectors discovered that staff allowed expired medication (insulin) to remain on a medication cart. An interview with a nurse revealed that the medication was in active use after the expiration date.
Failure to procure food from sources approved or considered satisfactory and to store, prepare, distribute and serve food in accordance with professional standards. An inspection of the facility kitchen uncovered concerns for inspectors, including a buildup of grease and food on the stove, food splatter on the stove and equipment near the stove, a buildup of grease and dust on the shelf above the stove, and pans stacked wet near the stove, contrary to policies stating that dishes should be completely dry before being stacked.
Failure to provide and implement an infection prevention and control program. A nurse was observed sticking a resident’s finger to test their blood and then throwing the finger stick device in the trash instead of in an approved container. The nurse then administered subcutaneous insulin and threw the needle away in the general trash can on the medication cart.
About Medication Errors
Medication errors at a nursing home are a signal of understaffing and lack of proper training. The medication errors in the November 2018 NHC Healthcare – Greenwood inspection were considered to have a low potential for harm, but certain medication errors can be deadly for residents.
Common medication errors include:
Giving expired medications;
Giving too much medication;
Giving too little medication or accidentally skipping a dose;
Failing to monitor the resident after administering medication;
Following the wrong protocol for administering medication;
Using the wrong technique for administering medication, such as splitting medications when labeling instructions state that the medication should not be split or failing to provide the resident with adequate liquids as directed on the medicine label;
Giving medication at the wrong time or wrong site;
Giving the wrong medication, the wrong form of medication, or the wrong strength of the medicine; and
Incorrect documentation of the medication administered.
Some medication errors can give rise to a medical negligence case against the facility. Actions that may result in legal liability include:
Staff choosing to ignore medication orders or changing them as they see fit so that medicines that have been ordered are not administered, or medicines that have not been ordered are given to the resident.
Not having the resident’s needed medication on-hand and available to be administered.
Staff “borrowing” medications from one resident to give to another.
Staff members diverting medications that have been prescribed to residents for personal use.
Why Does Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Occur?
It is estimated that 10 percent of elders over the age of 60 suffer from abuse. While more elders are abused by family members, abuse is not uncommon in nursing facilities. Reasons why abuse and neglect occur in nursing homes include:
Understaffing. Many nursing homes face dangerous staffing shortages that leave residents with unmet needs and at high risk of injuries from falling or medication errors. This is one of the leading causes of abuse and neglect claims in nursing homes across the country.
Poor management. A poorly run facility gives rise to the increased potential for neglect.
Underpaid staff. Failing to fairly compensate staff can create an environment where staff members are hostile about their jobs or feel that they “don’t get paid enough” to do certain necessary tasks for residents.
Lack of consequences. When nursing homes are not penalized for verified allegations of misconduct, this often is a silent encouragement to staff members to continue with the misconduct.
Resident immobility. Many elderly individuals are immobile when they come into a facility. Without a plentiful and well trained staff, they face a risk of contracting bedsores and infections.
Resident cognitive disability. When a resident is unable to communicate with caretakers, the resident may be unable to express their needs and caretakers may become frustrated or may be inattentive to the resident as a result.
Wealthy residents. Residents who have ready access to money tend to be targets of caretakers who wish to financially exploit them.
Residents who have extensive needs. Residents with extensive needs that require time and work are at higher risk of neglect by caretakers who don’t wish to expend the effort in caring for those needs appropriately or who don’t have time to do so.
Caretaker stress and exhaustion. Without a full and well-trained staff, caretakers who are available to serve the residents are at high risk of making errors due to stress and exhaustion. These errors are generally worse if the caretaker has not received the proper education and training to know how to best address residents’ needs in an orderly fashion.
A caretaker’s personal issues. Caretakers who are experiencing problems in their home lives, such as divorce or financial stress, are sometimes unable to focus on providing quality care at work.
Insufficient caretaker background checks. If the facility fails to properly vet staff members before hiring them, they may hire an individual with a history of abusive or neglectful behavior.
Resident-on-resident abuse. If a facility fails to properly supervise or control resident interactions, abuse between residents can occur. Staff intervention is particularly crucial when a resident has known aggressive tendencies.
19 Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse and neglect are often subtle. Many people blame their loved one’s injuries on declining health and cognitive abilities, and those same issues can render the resident unable to explain what is happening to them. However, these signs give reason to suspect abuse or neglect in a nursing home facility:
Broken bones, bruises, welts, or other unexplained injuries;
Broken possessions, such as eyeglasses with related wounds on the resident’s face;
Self-isolation from other residents, staff, or family members;
The resident startles or scares easily, but did not do so before being placed in the facility;
The resident is afraid of being left alone or a caretaker is reluctant to allow the resident to be left alone with visitors;
Repetitive behaviors such as rocking back and forth;
The resident refuses to take needed medication;
Bruises around the breasts or genitals, stained or torn underwear, or the contraction of sexually transmitted infections;
Unexpected monthly expenditures;
Signing up for programs that require monthly payments;
Making charitable donations to unknown causes;
Unexplained withdrawals from the resident’s bank account or new signatures added to the account’s signature card;
Sudden weight loss or chronic dehydration;
Being left in soiled garments;
Dirty conditions at the nursing home;
Frequent infections and illnesses that are not immediately reported to the family members;
Failure of staff to respond appropriately to injuries, mobility issues, or changes in medications; and
A lack of warm interaction between staff members and residents.
Anyone with actual knowledge of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation in South Carolina is required by law to report the abuse.
Others who believe the elder may be a victim of abuse or neglect are also required to report their suspicions, including:
Other medical, mental health, or allied health providers;
Staff or volunteers of a facility; and
Law enforcement officers.
Those required to report suspected abuse or neglect are required to do so within 24 hours or the next business day. For situations where the elderly individual is in immediate danger, the suspicions must be reported to law enforcement immediately. Facilities cannot implement policies or procedures that interfere with reporting suspected abuse, and if anyone makes a report in good faith, they are immune from legal liability that may result from the report.
Call Our Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers Today
If your loved one was the victim of abuse or neglect at NHC Healthcare – Laurens or any other South Carolina nursing facility, let us help you understand your legal options for obtaining compensation. Contact us at (843) 881-8644 or write to us through our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.
Hughey Law Firm LLC
1311 Chuck Dawley Blvd. | Suite 201
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464 Phone: 843-881-8644