Report: Roadblocks to Shutting Down Bad NC Nursing Homes

When staff at an adult day care home commit violations of North Carolina law, it may put residents at risk of serious injury or even death. And regulators often don’t hesitate to slap them with fines.
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However, repeated violations often aren’t enough to get a facility shut down. In fact, a new report from the Star News indicates that such a feat requires a “herculean effort,” even for those facilities that have repeatedly put residents’ lives in danger.

Nursing home abuse attorneys
in Charlotte understand that the biggest issue is bureaucracy. In fact, even simply sanctioning an adult day care home is a long process that must follow the strict protocol as codified in state law.

While recognizing that nursing homes are entitled to due process, complete with the opportunity to appeal and/or correct, advocates have been questioning whether the process is timely enough, particularly given that what’s at stake is the safety and well-being of vulnerable adults who often cannot advocate for themselves.

Among some of the more recent incidents cited in the report:

  • A $20,000 fine levied against a home in Wilmington in January 2013 for failure to provide supervision to residents at-risk for falls, failure to assure limited use of physical restraints and failure to follow care planning, proximately resulting in injury or death. In that case, an 84-year-old woman reportedly died at the home due to negligence.
  • At another home in Wilmington, administrators were fined $14,000 for failing to keep medications locked away securely, and a resident was able to obtain controlled medications, resulting in his death.
  • A Wilmington home was fined $21,000 for failure to properly secure the facility, allowing a resident with severe dementia to wander off the property unnoticed for several hours.
  • A Leland nursing home was find $14,000 for failing to provide supervision to address wandering, aggression and falling.
  • In Shallotte, a nursing home received a $65,000 fine for not securing controlled substances, failing to provide proper personal care and supervision and failing protect residents from intimidation and acts of physical aggression by another patient.

While state health department officials insist that these homes are regularly monitored for ongoing issues by numerous different agencies, the reality is that negligence continues to occur. Clearly, there is need for improvement.

The process just to establish a fine for an infraction can take many months. First, the complaint comes in, followed by a standardized review process that includes a record review, interviews and a tour. If it’s ultimately determined that the facility violated the law, inspectors can issue a fine, and/or a plan of protection.

Even once the fine is issued, it can take months for the facility to pay it. After the home receives the complaint, there are numerous opportunities for appeal. Often, fines are significantly reduced through this process.

Working to get a facility shut down is an even harder, longer process. As one state health official noted, staffers oversee 1,200 facilities housing more than 30,000 residents and “We’re busy.”

Contact our North Carolina personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Complex process slows response to abuse at adult facilities, April 19, 2014, By Molly Parker, Star News

More Blog Entries:
Rock Hill Nursing Home Abuse Allegations Investigated, April 2, 2014, Charlotte Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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