According to the official government website for Medicare, about 15,000 certified nursing home facilities operate across the nation. In the past, families searching for a facility for an aging loved one often find it difficult to access adequate information on the quality of care at a specific nursing home.
Fortunately, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services now maintains a database that consumers can use to research nursing homes. The Center provides data to help assess and compare the quality of care at different facilities, which includes reports from recent health and safety inspections.
One of the most important aspects of the database reveals whether nursing homes have had confirmed allegations of resident abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The tool flags facilities with confirmed allegations of abuse with a red warning icon, and supplies links to information regarding the allegation and the penalties and fines potentially or ultimately imposed.
A nursing home cited for abuse, neglect, or other violations must take steps to improve the quality of care for its residents. Unfortunately, across the nation, the vast majority of nursing home abuse and neglect never get reported, which means families researching facilities cannot always know whether their loved ones will end up in harm’s way.
Still, every family can narrow their choices. Conducting diligent and thorough research helps when selecting a facility. So does speaking directly with facility administration about any questions or concerns. It is always appropriate to ask specifically about the steps a nursing home takes to ensure its residence do not suffer abuse or neglect.
Below are the inspection results for NHC Healthcare – Mauldin, one of the many NHC-operated nursing homes in South Carolina. Though the Mauldin facility has a relatively strong record, you can never be too careful in investigating whether any nursing home will take good, responsible care of your loved one. Read on to learn more about what the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows about the NHC Healthcare – Mauldin nursing facility by the nursing home abuse attorneys at Hughey Law Firm.
About NHC Healthcare – Mauldin
The Hughey Law Firm has successfully pursued claims against this facility.
NHC Healthcare – Mauldin is a large, for-profit, corporately-owned nursing home facility located at 850 East Butler Road, in Greenville, South Carolina. The facility is certified to offer Medicare and Medicaid and features 180 certified beds independent of a hospital or continuing care retirement community. The facility offers short-term rehabilitation care for patients who are transitioning from the hospital back to their homes. Elderly patients suffering from a heart attack, stroke, surgery, or accidental injury typically require rehabilitation.
The facility also provides long-term care for residents who can no longer live independently. The facility is managed by National HealthCare Corporation (NHC). NHC operates more than 75 skilled nursing centers in the nation.
The facility claims that it offers 24-hour skilled nursing care provided by a team of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nursing assistants. In addition, the facility claims to provide dietician- and chef-approved meals, comprehensive therapy services at an on-site rehabilitation center, daily assistance with personal living activities, and medication management. Specialty services available include wound care, diabetes management, and care for residents who have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
That’s what the brochure might say, anyway. The question is whether NHC – Healthcare Mauldin lives up to its promises. In our experience, few nursing facilities have spotless inspection histories. NHC Healthcare – Mauldin is no exception. Learn where they failed so you can look for signs of nursing home abuse.
September 2017 Health Inspection
A September 2017 health inspection revealed three deficiencies at NHC – Healthcare Mauldin:
- Failure to provide care for residents in a way that keeps or builds each resident’s dignity and respect of individuality. Based on observations and interviews, inspectors discovered that the facility failed to ensure that residents sharing a table were served and fed at the same time. Additionally, staff was observed chewing gum and visiting with other staff members while residents were waiting to be served and fed. One staff member was observed dragging a resident in a rocking chair backwards down the hall to his or her room.
- Failure to store, cook, and serve food in a safe and clean way. Based on observations and interviews, the inspection noted a failure to ensure that food was distributed and served in a safe and professional manner. While food was being plated for distribution, a staff member entered the kitchen without wearing a hair net or washing his or her hands. Additionally, staff were observed delivering uncovered salads and desserts to residents in violation of facility policies. Facility policies require covers on desserts and salads unless the food cart is parked at the resident’s room. A staff member with a long ponytail was observed holding uncovered food close to his or her hair. An interview with staff revealed that there were no food covers provided with the food cart.
- Failure to give or get quality lab services/tests in a timely manner to meet the needs of residents. Record reviews and interviews showed that the facility failed to ensure that a physician’s orders for laboratory testing were followed. The testing was ordered as an intervention included in the resident’s care plan. At the time, the resident was on nine different medications. Some medications created a serious risk of dangerous side effects and drug interactions. The labs ordered were to assess the levels of medication in the resident’s body. During interviews, it became apparent that staff members were unaware of any changes to the physician’s orders. The staff contacted the physician and stated that the labs would be done immediately.
November 2018 Health Inspection
The NHC Healthcare – Mauldin 2018 health inspection revealed three deficiencies:
- Failure to ensure medication error rates are not 5 percent or greater. Based on observation, record reviews, interviews, and review of facility policy, the facility’s medication error rate was 6.25 percent. There was evidence of 2 errors out of 32 opportunities for error. The first error involved a staff member failing to properly prime a Humalog KwikPen for delivering insulin to a resident via injection. The manufacturer’s instructions for the KwikPen state that the pen must be primed before each injection. Without priming, the flow of the medicine may be affected, altering the amount of insulin received by the resident. The second error occurred when a resident’s medication was crushed in applesauce that the manufacturer directed was not supposed to be crushed. Facility policy states that medications must not be crushed unless directed to do so by the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Failure to ensure that residents are free from significant medication errors. Based upon interviews, record reviews, a review of facility policy, and the Humalog KwikPen manufacturer’s instructions, the facility failed to administer the correct amount of insulin. A staff member’s failure to prime the pen before injecting the patient affected the amount of insulin the patient received.
- Failure to provide and implement an infection prevention and control program. Observations, interviews, and a review of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s safety precautions showed the facility failed to follow infection control procedures. Proper procedures were not adhered to during the administration of a finger stick blood sugar test performed on a resident. A staff member was observed cleaning the glucose monitor with an alcohol pad rather than bleach. Facility policy fails to address the manner in which the resident’s personal monitor should be cleaned. The CDC’s recommends proper cleaning of the monitor in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions after each use.
What Else Can You Do to Ensure Your Loved One’s Safety at a Nursing Home?
While health inspections can provide useful information to inform your selection of a facility, you should gather additional information before making a decision. Other ways to investigate the quality of care a facility will provide your loved one include:
- Seek referrals about nursing home facilities in your area from trusted friends and family members who have utilized local nursing homes. Ask them what they like best about the facility and if they have encountered any problems that they can disclose. Your doctor’s office or church are also good places to speak with others about recommended nursing homes. Don’t exclusively rely on Medicare ratings, either—nursing homes have learned how to rig them.
- Make two visits to the nursing homes you are considering. Schedule your first visit. You should tour the facility and meet with the administrative staff, including the facility administrator, the director of nursing, and the dietician. The second visit should take place at an unscheduled time, on a different day of the week than the initial visit. If you are able, visit during meal time, so you have the opportunity to see how staff interacts with residents.
- Some issues you should look out for when you visit include chaotic scenes full of loud noises or strong smells. Even large facilities, when run properly, can maintain order and calm most of the time. Loud noises, strong smells, and frantic staff members often indicate a lack of sufficient staff to meet the needs of the residents. You should also be wary if you notice that staff members are not interacting warmly with the residents. All residents should be treated with dignity and respect, including staff referring to residents by their names.
What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Facility Abuse or Neglect
Do not stop paying close attention to the operation of a nursing facility after you choose to send your elderly loved one there to reside. Check back with the Medicare website periodically and take note of any updated information, good or bad. Also, visit your loved one as often as practicable and pay attention to any changes in the facility, its staff, or (most importantly) your loved one since your last visit.
If, through keeping yourself up-to-date on your loved one’s care at a facility, you suspect abuse or neglect have occurred or may soon occur, take action. In a circumstance in which you reasonably believe your loved one’s health is in immediate danger, take whatever steps you believe are necessary to move your loved one immediately. In all other circumstances, contact an experienced South Carolina nursing home abuse and neglect attorney.
Why call an attorney? Simply put, because you have a variety of paths you could choose to take in sounding an alarm about suspected abuse or neglect, each of which comes with potential legal and practical complications. An experienced lawyer can help you sort through those options to identify the best way to keep your loved one safe while protecting the full extent of your loved one’s legal and human rights. Choosing a path forward need not take a long time in most cases, so unless you have an immediate need to protect your loved one’s well-being, we encourage you to speak with an attorney before acting.
Call Hughey Law Firm’s Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys Today
No family should ever face the horror of realizing a loved one residing in a nursing home has sustained serious, even life-threatening, injuries because of abuse or neglect by facility staff or residents. Since its founding, Hughey Law Firm has committed a significant portion of its legal practice to fighting the scourge of abuse and neglect of elderly South Carolinians who reside at nursing homes. Our senior citizens deserve to live in dignity and to feel respected and looked-after in their nursing facility “home.”
Our first priority in every representation involving suspected abuse or neglect of a nursing home resident is to ensure that person’s health and safety. Then, we work with our clients to identify areas of potential legal liability on the part of nursing home operators, staff, or others, for causing the resident harm.
Over the years, we have recovered millions of dollars for clients harmed by abuse and neglect in South Carolina nursing facilities. While there is no guarantee of a financial outcome in any situation such as this, our clients can always rest assured that we take wrongdoing at nursing facilities very seriously, and will pursue and protect their interests to the fullest extent possible.
If your loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, we can help you understand your legal options. Call us at (843) 881-8644 or write to us using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.
Hughey Law Firm LLC
1311 Chuck Dawley Blvd. | Suite 201
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464