Northern Nevada nursing homes are regularly inspected by state agencies and cited for violations of care standards, but fines and other serious sanctions are rarely imposed– even when a patient dies as a result of neglect or mistreatment, according to a Reno Gazette-Journal investigation into government inspections of nursing homes.
Some states, including California and Washington, can fine nursing homes for violating regulations, but Nevada law mirrors federal Medicare procedures. Medicare’s “nonpunitive” system allows nursing homes to correct problems found during inspections instead of being fined for violations.
In Nevada, nursing homes can be cited for the same kinds of violations year after year. It’s only when they fail to correct the problems after multiple inspections that fines are levied. Eight Northern Nevada nursing homes have been fined in the past three years.
Examples the Reno Gazette-Journal found of deficient care in Northern Nevada nursing homes during the past three years that didn’t result in fines or serious sanctions included:
Â» A patient who had been left without care for 81 hours became severely dehydrated and died after being rushed to a hospital.
Â» Physical abuse by nursing home staff members against patients.
Â» Many documented cases of avoidable bedsores caused by patients left in the same position for many hours. In some cases, severe bedsores went unnoticed by staff members, and in other cases, infections went untreated for long periods.
Â» Patients given the wrong drugs, and some who overdosed on the medications.
“It’s very sad we’re doing this to our elderly people,” said LaVonne Schfler of Reno, whose mother has spent time in nursing homes for rehabilitation and who does volunteer work with the Special Advocates for Elders program at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“They spend their lives working hard, contributing to society, and then when they can’t care for themselves, their children have a choice between their survival or their parents’ survival. (The children) can’t do 24-hour care and work at the same time, so they wind up in nursing homes where they may be mistreated or neglected. It’s not right.”
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.