Nursing homes in Encinitas and throughout San Diego County should be on warning that nursing home residents and their families are not willing to deal with understaffing problems that can easily lead to nursing home neglect injuries. According to a recent article in Advance Senior Care, there are 15 nursing homes in the state of California that are now the subject of class action lawsuits “alleging that their owner systematically understaffed them to increase his profits.” While these nursing homes are facing claims for nursing home negligence risks, a recent report from California Healthline stated that approximately 1,400 nursing homes in the country will now have to report lower Medicare ratings as a result of concerns about understaffing.
California skilled nursing facilities are required to have specific staffing numbers in order to prevent patient injuries due to elder neglect. When facilities do not have adequate staff, patients can suffer serious and life-threatening injuries due to neglect alone. What should families in California know about the changes to Medicare ratings and how those might relate to the recent class action lawsuits in the state?
Understaffing Problems Lead to Lower Medicare Ratings for Nearly 1,400 Nursing Homes
If you are wondering whether you read that number correctly—1,400—we need to emphasize that you did indeed see the correct figure. Thousands of nursing homes across the country will receive lower Medicare ratings because they are understaffed, and California nursing homes are included in that figure. As we noted previously, payroll record data required by the Affordable Care Act recently exposed how thousands of nursing homes in the country have been understaffing their facilities based on staffing averages instead of looking at specific staffing numbers on each day of the week. Families should know that Medicare “mandates that every facility have a registered nurse working at least eight hours a day.” However, many facilities were not meeting that daily requirement.
Now, in response to the revelations from the payroll data, Medicare will now give its “lowest rating for staffing to 1,387 of the nation’s 15,616 skilled nursing facilities.” Each of those nursing homes will receive only one out of five possible stars due to understaffing concerns. To put that figure another way, almost 9% of all nursing homes in the country will have only one star due to staffing inadequacies. A quick search for San Diego-area skilled nursing facilities in the California Healthline database shows a number of nursing homes that have average or below average staffing numbers.
Suing Nursing Homes for Understaffing Injuries
If you are considering a nursing home for an elderly loved one, you should be sure to take into account the new Medicare ratings. In addition, you should learn more about the class action lawsuits brought due to intentional understaffing. While the major facilities named in the lawsuit are located in northern California, San Diego area residents should know that filing a claim against a negligent facility can be a tool to seek compensation for losses as well as to hold the nursing home (and its owners) accountable for harm caused by nursing home neglect.
In the meantime, if you have questions about filing a nursing home abuse claim, you should speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer in Escondido about your case. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can assist you.
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(image courtesy of Obed Hernandez)