Residents of nursing homes and skilled care facilities are some of the most vulnerable people in our society, yet they are often neglected and sometimes even abused by those whose job it is to care for them. On March 6, 2018, there was a senate hearing to examine the devastating abuse and neglect that is present in nursing facilities, including the sexual assault of Sonja Fischer, who was 83 at the time. George Kpingbah, 76 year-old nursing assistant, was found in the early hours of December 18, 2014 raping Fischer, who was unable to yell out for help or fight back due to her limitations. Unbeknownst to Fischer's family members, this was not the first allegation of abuse by Kpingbah. He had been suspended three times prior to this assault on suspicion of sexual abuse, yet the facility still allowed him to continue working the night shift.
Judge Dan Schneider was only 68 years old when he passed away from not receiving needed antibiotics in 2013 after 24 days at the Louisville nursing home campus of the Masonic Homes of Kentucky. Recently, the nursing home company and pharmacy have agreed to a settlement of nearly $13 million to the family.
Fines against nursing homes that were found to injure or endanger their residents were significantly reduced after the Trump administration changed its policy on the issue. Average fines dropped from $41,260 in 2016 under the Obama administration to $28,405 under Trump. The reason why fines decreased so much is due to a policy that changed the way nursing homes in North Carolina and other states were fined. It changed from the number of days they were out of compliance to a single fine for each reported violation.
Virtually all skilled nursing facilities accept taxpayer dollars via Medicare. As a condition of being able to get paid Medicare dollars, Medicare has regulations that set minimum standards for the quality of nursing care provided in nursing homes. The purpose of these regulations is in part to ensure proper care is given in order to avoid neglect, injury, and even death to nursing home patients. These regulations, 42 CFR 483.25, address some of the more common types of problems we see in nursing home cases, problems that can lead to injury, or even death.
Richmond Pines nursing home in Hamlet, North Carolina was ranked by Medicare as the worst nursing home in North Carolina as of September 1, 2018, based on the ranking system for The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Due to serious deficiencies that have the potential for hurting patients, the facility was placed on CMS' Special Focus Facilities List, which means it has a limited amount of time to improve its quality of care before CMS imposes serious consequences, such as terminating the nursing home from participating in Medicare and Medicaid permanently. As a result of an inspection that found one patient outside unaccompanied, and another trapped between the mattress and footboard of a bed, the facility has already been terminated from reimbursements from Medicare and Medicare.