Nursing homes are held to a very high standard of care, primarily because they are directly responsible for the lives of the elderly and their overall well-being. One of the federal regulations governing nursing home conduct is the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, which requires that all nursing homes who receive Medicare and Medicaid funds maintain facilities that are safe for the residents and keep them free from physical, mental and sexual abuse.

One part of the reform updated the law to include provisions that prevent nursing homes that have been terminated from the Medicaid program from being re-admitted to the program. These nursing homes can be re-admitted, however, if the specific state surveying agency that oversees the facility can establish that the deficiencies and non-compliance in the home that led to the termination have been remedied with sufficient assurances that they will not occur in the future.

One of the biggest obstacles in bringing a halt to abuse in nursing homes is the enforcement of the law and punishment levied against facilities that are not in compliance with federal regulations.

The most common punishment implemented against facilities not in compliance with federal regulations is a fine on the facility for their violations. Even facilities that are repeat offenders are often fined repetitiously instead of succumbing to harsher punishments like being shut down. The main reason for this is the problems within the regulations that govern the nursing homes themselves.

The Main Roadblock to Shutting Down Bad Nursing Homes

When discussing nursing home regulation reform in 1987, Congress ultimately decided that the Secretary of Health and Human Services should revise the repeat deficiency provision of Medicare and Medicaid regulations to limit the use of de-certification to instances where a nursing home cannot adequately justify repeat deficiencies that seriously threaten patient health and safety.

Taking away federal funds for repeat offenders would be a very effective method to punish facilities that continually jeopardize the health and safety of their patients. Instead, Congress adopted a philosophy that stifles the ability of regulators to de-certify facilities that are repeat offenders because now these non-compliant nursing homes can simply come up with a “good reason” to justify any deficiencies. Ironically, the law that regulates compliance by nursing homes is the biggest roadblock to shutting down bad nursing homes in North Carolina.

If you have a loved one that’s been abused at their nursing home or you suspect your loved one is being abused at a nursing home and want information on how you can take action, contact Campbell & Associates today for a free consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney at our Charlotte law firm.