State Inspectors Discover an Array of Health and Safety Issues in Nursing Home

After state health inspectors visited the one 514-bed nursing home in February, they were clearly alarmed. Inspectors found resident screaming, biting and kicking as four attendants held them down for bathing or treatment. Often, the inspectors found, patients received improper doses of powerful psychotropic drugs. Also, an investigation never happened when a staff member reported concerns about physical abuse of a resident.

"The administrator and director of nursing were not fulfilling their essential job duties to ensure the safety and proper health care services for residents," the inspectors concluded in a 37-page report. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rated the facility below average in meeting inspection requirements, giving them a ranking of only one out five stars.

Officials with the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, which runs the homes, acknowledged the seriousness of the inspection reports. But they said agency staff resolved outstanding issues.

State officials point to patient satisfaction surveys they conducted, which show a high approval rate. However, the inspection reports tell another story at the nursing home. A review of reports for the past five years shows the most serious violations occurred repeatedly at the facility.

The situation at home was serious enough to prompt one state senator to make two unannounced visits. "It was pretty serious," said the senator, adding that state health inspectors "uncovered some real problems."

The violations of state and federal rules included failure to notify physicians and family members about changes in patients' conditions; unsanitary incontinence care; and overuse of side rails, which caused patients to become trapped and suffer injuries. For more on state run nursing homes, read the story.

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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.