Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Lawyer
Deciding to place a loved one in a skilled nursing home facility is a difficult decision that the majority of American families will eventually have to make. Many older adults would prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible. Over time, aging adults may require more extensive care than family members can provide.
Placement in a skilled nursing facility can cost more than $8,000 per month. Choosing a facility often involves a careful review of finances and possibly obtaining an insurance plan that provides more coverage for residential care. Some families may have to consider selling assets to afford the significant costs of assisted living.
In sum, selecting a nursing home facility for an aging loved one is a big decision. Of course, you will want to choose a facility that you can trust will consistently provide a high level of care to residents. You should not have to worry that your loved one may be abused, neglected, or refused the services they deserve by facility staff. Unfortunately, those concerns are valid when selecting a facility.
One tool that the federal government has provided in the fight against nursing home abuse is the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Nursing Home Compare website. The site provides access to the reports from the most recent health inspections conducted at facilities across the nation. Warning labels are used to identify facilities with serious violations. The page allows users the opportunity to compare the data from multiple nursing home facilities in the local area.
Below are the results of the health and fire safety inspections conducted at Brookdale Easley. Hughey Law Firm knows it well—we have successfully litigated claims against this facility.
About Brookdale Easley
Brookdale Easley is a small nursing home facility located at 706 Pelzer Highway, Easley, SC. The facility has 60 certified beds and is part of a Continuing Care Retirement Community. The community includes multiple facilities offering a variety of levels of care. Residents of any facility within the community may transfer to another facility as their needs change. Brookdale Easley provides short-stay care for those making a transition from the hospital to home following surgery or a medical incident such as a heart attack or stroke. Short-stay residents may stay at the facility for up to 100 days and are provided access to therapeutic resources as well as skilled nursing care. The facility also provides long-term care for residents who can’t complete daily living tasks on their own.
The facility’s short-stay program was rated much below average. The program has a higher number of short-stay patients who must be readmitted to the hospital than the state or national averages. Nearly double the percentage of residents have had an emergency department visit while staying at the facility when compared to the state and national averages. More than double the percentage of residents are prescribed antipsychotic medications for the first time while residing at the facility. Additionally, there are double the number of residents with new or worsening pressure ulcers when compared to the state and national averages.
Only two past health inspection reports were available to view for this facility. The Medicare profile page stated that earlier reports do not exist.
September 2017 Inspection
The September 2017 inspection of Brookdale Easley revealed six deficiencies, including:
- Failure to give each resident a notice of rights, rules, services and charges; and to tell each resident who can get Medicaid benefits about which items and services Medicaid covers and which the resident must pay for. Inspectors discovered a lack of required posting of critical information for residents and visitors. The facility failed to provide the names and contact information for the state agencies and advocacy groups including the state survey agency, the state licensure office, adult protective services, the office of the long-term care ombudsman program. In addition, the facility did not adequately provide residents information about Medicaid and how to apply for Medicare and Medicaid benefits. However, this information was posted in the nurses’ station hallway, above the height of the surveyor, in small print. The information was not legible when viewed standing underneath the posting.
- Failure to give residents proper treatment to prevent new pressure sores or heal existing pressure sores. Based on observation, interview, and review of the facility’s policies, it was determined that facility staff failed to utilize standard infection control practices. When treating the wounds of one resident, staff used scissors taken from the licensed practical nurse’s (LPN) pocket to cut the dressings from the wound. The care provider failed to sanitize the scissors before or after the procedure. A garbage can was placed on the bed during the wound cleaning process. And, the LPN failed to properly sanitize his or her hands between cleaning the wounds and applying clean dressings.
- Failure to post nurse staffing information/data on a daily basis. Record reviews and interviews revealed that the licensed practical nurses failed to post their total hours worked during a seven-day period in violation of facility policy. The registered nurses failed to post their total hours worked for a two-day period, also a violation.
- Failure to store, cook, and serve food in a safe and clean way. Observations, interviews, and record reviews showed that a member of the cooking staff failed to maintain a proper serving temperature. Staff was unaware of the proper procedures for reheating food to the appropriate temperature.
- Failure to receive registry verification that a nurse aide has met the required training and skills that the state requires; and to ensure nurse aides receive the required retraining after 24 months if nursing-related services were not provided for monetary compensation. Interviews and reviews of personnel files showed that the facility failed to provide documentation that two certified nurses’ aides had completed the required registry verification form. The nursing home administrator reported that the employee who normally handled that task had left the facility and that the position had not yet been filled.
- Failure to employ qualified full-time, part-time, or consultant professionals that must be licensed, certified, or registered staff to give needed services. A review of personnel files and interviews revealed that the facility failed to check the status of an LPN’s license before hiring. The director of nursing stated that he or she had verified licensure status before hiring. However, the director was unaware that the verification form must be kept in the LPN’s personnel file.
November 2018 Inspection
The November 2018 inspection at Brookdale Easley revealed two deficiencies, as follows:
- Failure to honor the resident’s right to request, refuse, and/or discontinue treatment, to participate in or refuse to participate in experimental research, and to formulate an advance directive. Record review and interviews determined that the facility failed to allow a resident to make an advance directive. The patient was not given the opportunity to effectuate a do not resuscitate (DNR) order. One physician noted the patient could provide consent, while another concluded the patient could not provide consent. The resident had been in hospice care for severe wound conditions. However, there was no reevaluation performed regarding the patient’s ability to consent. A social worker reviewed the resident’s medical record and agreed that there was conflicting information regarding the patient’s ability to consent to a DNR.
- Failure to provide timely notification to the resident, and if applicable to the resident representative and ombudsman, before transfer or discharge, including appeal rights. The facility failed to provide a resident and/or his or her representative with written notice of a transfer to the hospital. Facility policy requires the personal representative be notified of the transfer and provided with the reason the transfer was taking place.
Fire Safety Inspections
As part of the regular inspection process, Medicare & Medicaid-certified nursing home facilities are also required to undergo a fire safety and emergency preparedness inspection. Reports available for two inspections revealed:
- September 2017 Inspection: Five fire safety and emergency preparedness deficiencies were discovered. The facility failed to ensure exits were accessible at all times. In addition, the facility lacked areas with walls that can resist fire for one hour or an approved fire extinguishing system. The inspection also revealed a failure to properly install and monitor supervisory attachments on automatic sprinkler systems; failure to install corridor and hallway doors that block smoke; and failure to ensure smoke barriers are constructed to a one-hour fire resistance rating. In 2017, the state average for fire safety inspection deficiencies at nursing homes was 0.8, while the national average was 3.
- November 2018 Inspection: Four deficiencies were discovered at the Brookdale Easley nursing home during the fire safety inspection. The facility failed to establish an Emergency Preparedness Program and failed to have an approved installation, maintenance and a testing program for fire alarm systems. Additionally, facility staff failed to inspect, test, and maintain automatic sprinkler systems; and failed to ensure smoke barriers were constructed to a one-hour fire resistance rating. The state and national averages of fire safety inspection deficiencies were 0.4 and 3 per facility, respectively.
Beyond Health Inspections
While the health inspection reports from facilities you are considering is an important place to start your research, other factors should be considered when selecting a facility. Family members should:
- Ask family or friends for nursing home recommendations. If you know someone who has a loved one in a facility nearby, ask what the resident and the family like about the facility. Ask if they have any complaints about the care their loved one has received there as well. Doctors’ offices and church groups are also great places to solicit trustworthy feedback on nursing homes in your area.
- Tour the facility, twice. For your first tour, you will want to schedule time to speak to management, including the nursing home director, the director of nursing, the social worker, and the culinary director. The second visit to the facility should be unscheduled, so you can see how the facility operates when staff members are not expecting a visit.
- Be wary of facilities where the staff members seem stressed, the environment seems chaotic, or calls to the nurse are going unanswered. Interaction between staff and residents should be warm. Staff should know the residents personally and address them by name.
- Ask about the staff turnover rate. A high turnover rate is often an indication of a facility that is understaffed. In addition, it is difficult for the residents to have different people providing their day-to-day care.
How Prevalent Are Abuse and Neglect
The Department of Justice recently announced it would take an expanded role in improving the care provided to older Americans across the nation. Through the creation of a national nursing home task force, they aim to monitor nursing home operations to ensure residents receive adequate care. Initially, the task force will focus on three areas of concern:
- Understaffing, which is a major contributor in nursing home abuse and neglect cases.
- Inadequate infection control procedures.
- Neglect and abuse of residents.
The task force also plans to develop training materials for local and state law enforcement agencies to educate them about abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation at skilled nursing facilities. Upon announcing the initiative, the U.S. Attorney General noted that millions of seniors count on nursing homes to provide them quality care. However, rather than prioritizing providing quality care, nursing home owners and operators value profit over the wellbeing of their residents.
Furthermore, the Justice Department announcement noted the impacts of substandard care in nursing homes. Inadequate care has resulted in severe bedsores, life-threatening malnutrition, and shockingly unsanitary practices. The announcement also encourages nursing home facilities to bolster infection control procedures to combat the spread of coronavirus and other contagious illnesses.
Call Hughey Law Firm Nursing Home Injury Lawyers Now
If your loved one has suffered abuse, neglect, or exploitation at Brookdale Easley or another nursing home in South Carolina, contact the attorneys at Hughey Law Firm. We regularly fight for the rights of injured elders to seek the compensation they deserve, and we’re not afraid to help residents of any facility.
We have the resources and experience to prevail against even the facilities owned by deep-pocketed corporations, and have the track record to prove it. In fact, we have won compensation from Brookdale Easley previously and are fully prepared to help more of its residents.
Call us today at (843) 881-8644 or send us a message so we can evaluate your case and see if we can help you or your loved one.
Hughey Law Firm LLC
1311 Chuck Dawley Blvd. | Suite 201
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464