Nursing Home Accused of Knowingly Understaffing

Life Care Centers

Family members of a nursing home resident are challenging a current law in Indiana regarding nursing homes.

An Article in the News Times in Indiana reports that the Life Care Center of Rochester is being sued for wrongful death and nursing home neglect. According to the article:

The complaint alleges that the nursing home patient was allowed to suffer multiple falls after becoming a patient of the dementia unit, ultimately suffering an injury to the head including massive subdural bleeding and brain swelling. The patient was admitted to the hospital after the second fall, where she died two days later. The complaint alleges that those responsible for the care at Life Care Center of Rochester “knowingly understaffed the facility and placed its patient population in serious and clearly foreseeable danger of harm and injury.”

The article states that the lawsuit is challenging the Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Act.

The complaint states that the named defendants “have engaged in a history and pattern of practice of wrongfully choosing to place corporate profits over the needs of their patients.” In support of that allegation, the complaint states that Life Care Centers of America, Inc. was the subject of a Federal False Claims Act lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department that was settled for $147 Million in 2016.

According to the complaint, the family of the victim plans to challenge the constitutionality of Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Statute.

Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death statute states that the total damages that may be recovered against a negligent defendant proven to have killed the victim is $300,000 for loss of the “love and companionship” of the deceased individual. (I.C. 34-23-1-2(e)) Indiana law does not allow any recovery for the pain and suffering of a victim killed by a defendant’s negligence. (I.C.34-9-3-4)

According to the article, the lawsuit’s complaint alleges that the Indiana State Department of Health had visited the facility and noted that there were significant failures in hiring, training, and management at the Life Care Center. The article reports that the family of the victim’s attorney stated the following:

“We cannot allow huge for-profit nursing home chains being paid billions of dollars to care for their patients to so egregiously skimp on nursing staff to boost their bottom line, with a callous disregard for the patients they harm and kill as a result.”

I could not agree with this statement any more.  In particular for nursing homes that are for-profit companies (instead of nonprofit or religious), profit is king.

And how do nursing homes (or any company) make profit?  By having more income (revenue) with less cost (expenses).

The number one income source for every nursing home I have ever sued has been the number of residents (and, often, they get paid more for resident who have the highest care needs, reflected by the Resource Utilization Group score).  Want revenues to go up?  Fill those nursing home beds with residents, the sicker and needier, the better.

According to the article, Life Care Centers of Rochester is owned by a larger corporation:

Life Care Centers of America, Inc. is a Cleveland, Tenn., based for-profit corporation which manages or owns more than 220 skilled nursing homes across the U.S., according to the complaint.

The number one expense for every nursing home, no matter the size, I’ve ever sued has been nursing staff.  Want expenses to go down?  Hire fewer nursing staff members, pay them less, and have them work fewer hours.

The result is an almost undeniable temptation to under staff: have as many residents cared for by as few nurses and aides as you can get away with.

If you are concerned that your loved one may have been the victim of a nursing home’s choice to understaff, please contact me. I am here to help you navigate through the complicated process of holding nursing homes accountable for purposefully understaffing in order to turn a profit. You can comment below or fill out a confidential form here. Nursing home understaffing is a serious issue that has serious consequences, including serious injury and even death.

You can read the full article here.

Do you have questions about a possible abuse, neglect, stroke, or heart attack case? Contact us now using this confidential form. Or leave a comment below--but remember the comments are public, not confidential.

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