The future of many of the nation’s nursing homes appears to be in serious trouble, which is unlikely to reverse course soon. Some large chain nursing facility companies are paying large verdicts when losing nursing home lawsuits and are nearly bankrupt or actively seeking Chapter 11 protection to keep their doors open.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase of patients filing negligence claims against assisted-living facilities and nursing homes. Many of these nursing home lawsuits have resulted in the defendants paying huge punitive damages to the victims and surviving family members of a loved ones who have died at the hands of nursing home medical staff. These punitive amounts are in addition to paying the victims compensatory damages for their tangible and non-tangible losses.
What Has Happened to Acute Care?
Less than 10 years ago, nursing facilities provided cost-effective solutions to provide care to patients suffering acute illnesses, injuries or when healing from surgery. Since then, the cost of providing care to nursing home patients has increased at a rate greater than four percent every year. As a result, most nursing facilities have made significant operational changes to the detriment of their patients. Many skilled nursing facilities are very understaffed, where fewer medical professionals are required to perform an amount of work beyond their capacity.
Most medical facilities tend to have 108 beds on average, totaling more than 1.7 million beds nationwide. Many of the operational and functional adjustments that were made to ensure the nursing home chain’s profitability has been at the expense of providing quality health services to their patients.
Most complaints filed my family and victims made claims that nursing home workers lacked sufficient training and supervision, which created unacceptable and deplorable health conditions. In many institutions, the quality of care has been significantly diminished. As a result, nursing facilities are facing sanctions and potential closures.
Because of understaffing, many of these medical care facilities no longer have enough nurses and nurse’s aides to maintain quality health of the patient. In fact, many patients unnecessarily suffer bedsores (decubitus ulcers; pressure ulcers; pressure sores) from the lack of the staff simply readjusting their bodies when in bed or sitting in a wheelchair. Instead, the bedsore was allowed to develop into a serious, life-threatening condition. Many patients died unnecessarily as a result.
Large Lawsuit Awards Dispensed Against Nursing Home Operators Who Don’t Care
Many national chains are having to absorb the high cost of paying compensatory and punitive damages for depriving their patients benefits or rights. This is because the employees and workers at the facility denied many of these rights through willful or reckless disregard of the patient, triggering the filing lawsuits by victims and surviving family.
While the nursing home facility may be fully insured to cover any compensatory award or out-of-court settlement for negligence, most awards for punitive damages are uninsurable. As a result, large nursing home chains are unable to absorb the cost of huge lawsuit awards and are now facing the financial dangers of bankruptcy and/or closure from losing the lawsuits.
Juries all across the nation are awarding huge punitive damages to victims whose rights were seriously violated while a patient in a nursing facility. Many of these include abuse and negligence that allowed the development of serious, life-threatening bedsores, which are easily preventable.
It is not uncommon for nursing home patients to suffer life-threatening ulcers, which either progress from a less severe case, or are acquired after admittance to the facility. In these incidences, caregivers can be found negligent when consistently failing to provide proper skin monitoring or effective treatment to ensure that the bedsore can heal properly.
Often times, these incidences result in a negligent personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit against the caregiver, supervisors, doctors, nurses, management administrators and the facility itself.
Unless nursing home chains seek better methods of producing profits without the need to diminish quality care to their patients, they will likely be facing additional large compensatory and punitive damage awards in the future. No individual should be denied basic dignity when forced to live deplorable conditions or suffering from a lack of quality care.
Punitive damages serve as vindication of patients’ rights and used to ensure that the reprehensible motives of the nursing home administration, management, supervisors, doctors and nurses never victimize another individual.