Over the last several months, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has been ramping up enforcement actions for nursing homes.
Records show a jump from 18 penalties in 2014 to 108 penalties so far in 2017. Among the facilities issued penalties over the years are six Lancaster County nursing homes, which had fines totaling $63,650. The total fines issued statewide so far in 2017 are $774,750.
The department says the goal of increased enforcement and stronger use of penalties is to ensure that nursing homes are safe and to correct problems. However, nursing home industry leaders say that the approach can be counterproductive and argue that fines make things worse, not better, for residents.
Most of the Lancaster nursing home penalties were issued for incidents involving inadequate supervision resulting in harm to residents, including at least 2 deaths. “Sometimes sanctions are necessary to make sure that changes are being enacted,” said April Hutcheson, spokeswoman for the PA Department of Health.
The increased penalties are largely due to more frequent nursing home inspections. In 2015, the state filed a lawsuit accusing a nursing home chain of inadequate staffing and substandard care, which sparked the creation of a Nursing Home Quality Improvement Task Force. Inspectors are now visiting nursing homes more often, resulting in discovery of violations.
In addition to the fines imposed by state regulators, nursing homes can be subject to federal fines, which have also been increasing.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of negligent nursing home care, it's important to seek out the help of a skilled attorney in Pennsylvania. The lawyers at Metzger Wickersham are familiar with cases involving nursing home neglect and abuse. Our team is backed by extensive resources and decades of collective legal experience.
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