Study Reveals State Social Services Slow Response to Nursing Home Complaints
When one woman pulled her father out of his nursing home in August
2007, the 76-year-old retired construction worker had wasted away from
132 to 109 pounds. He was dehydrated, feverish with pneumonia and
suffering from two gaping bedsores on his buttocks that had rotted his tissue to the bone. Hospital staff who admitted him
were so alarmed by his condition that they immediately reported his
case to state investigators at the Department of Aging and Disability
“He must have been in so much pain,” said the man's daughter,
who filed a complaint against the nursing home in
September 2007. “He was still entitled to a little dignity, a little
Unfortunately, like many complaints against nursing homes, state
investigators arrived late — weeks after the deadline imposed under
state rules — and found the nursing home was not at fault. This case was among more than 2,200 claims of abuse, neglect and
bad medical care against the state's licensed nursing homes
between 2006 and 2009.
According to a study by the San Antonio Express-News,
some of the city's most frail and vulnerable residents are
suffering at the hands of their caregivers. Yet state officials allow nursing homes to continue operating with little or no penalty for their infractions.
In many nursing homes, elderly residents
were left for hours in their own urine and feces. Other facilities were infested with
cockroaches and rats. Employees yelled insults
at residents and handled them roughly. Nursing home staff stole
medication and administered the wrong drugs to residents. State
inspectors found dirty feeding tubes and broken medical equipment.
The state received nearly 16,200 reports of poor treatment last
year, but most — about four out of five — were unsubstantiated
by investigators, who often don't investigate until weeks after
receiving the complaint. While many of the state's nursing homes usually provide safe, clean
conditions for residents, some homes repeatedly failed to provide
safe conditions and appropriate medical care.
State investigators do say that not every complaint goes unsubstantiated. State surveyors verify one
out of five complaints, and also spot violations when they perform
For more, read the story.
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.
Posted on Fri, February 26, 2010
by Robert Carter