Is Poor Care Leading to Elder Abuse, Death, in PA?

Is Poor Care Leading to Nursing Home Abuse in PA?

The quality of care provided at Pennsylvania nursing homes has earned a failing grade by one of the nation's leading advocacy organizations. A recently published investigative report has called into question how well the Commonwealth protects some of its most vulnerable residents: the elderly.

The report, published by PennLive following a six-month investigation, is a must-read for anyone caring for aging family members or friends. The three-part series revealed that, out of 259 nursing home deaths that occurred from 2013 to 2015, nearly 20 percent were due to negligence and avoidable mistakes.

Of those deaths:

  • Five involved mentally impaired residents who were left unsupervised and who wandered off.
  • Eight cases involved residents who died after nursing home staff members failed to act or to provide medical help.
  • Ten residents choked to death.

The statistics might be shocking until you put them in context: Pennsylvania has the 10th-highest rate of bad nursing homes in the nation. Of the 669 nursing homes in the state, 40 percent are rated as one- or two-star facilities.

And, according to the statistics compiled, the for-profit nursing homes are the biggest offenders. Half of the Keystone State's for-profit nursing homes have one- or two-star ratings, which is twice the rate of Pennsylvania's 299 non-profit facilities. Out of the 46 avoidable deaths in Pennsylvania nursing homes, 32 occurred at for-profit facilities.

Sadly, the systemic failures go beyond the nursing homes. Advocates say Pennsylvania's penalties for nursing homes with serious violations are so weak that they aren't effective in causing the facilities to change the way they do business.

The average fine against a Pennsylvania nursing home cited for a serious violation? It's less than $14,000—a small sum for a multi-million business.

Elder abuse and neglect isn't just an area where Pennsylvania can improve. National statistics are just as dismal. Consider this:

  • One in 10 Americans 60 or older have experienced elder abuse
  • That means 5 million elderly Americans are abused each year
  • Yet, only one in 14 cases of elder abuse are reported
  • Almost 50 percent of elderly people with Alzheimer's Disease or dementia are abused
  • Senior citizens who've been abused have a 300 percent greater risk of death

The personal injury attorneys at Edgar Snyder & Associates have helped elder abuse victims for more than 30 years, and we can tell you: If someone you love lives in a nursing home, it's important to understand the signs of abuse.

Types of nursing home abuse include:

  • Physical abuse – bed sores, dehydration, malnutrition, using restraints
  • Mental and emotional abuse – yelling, threatening, isolating and belittling
  • Financial abuse – stealing cash or credit cards, forging a patient's signature
  • Neglect – failing to provide a resident with a bath or water, allowing a resident to wander unsupervised

Please, if you suspect someone you love is a victim of nursing home abuse, don't stand by quietly. Let us help. The case review is free, and at Edgar Snyder & Associates, there's never a fee unless we get money for you.

"Failing the Frail," PennLive