San Miguel Villa nursing home in Concord, California, which is owned by parent corporation Tranquility Inc., has agreed to a $2.3-million settlement to end nursing home abuse and neglect allegations. According to the allegations, Tranquility Inc. and San Miguel Villa fraudulently billed Medicare and Medi-Cal between 2012 and 2017 for nursing home services that were “grossly substandard.”
U.S. Attorneys against San Miguel Villa alleged that residents in the nursing home were subjected to:
- Common fall risks
- Frequent resident-on-resident violence
- Physical abuse
- Mentally damaging neglect
The investigation into San Miguel Villa and Tranquility Inc. was handled in part by the United States Justice Department Elder Justice Initiative and its Elder Justice Task Force. This team has been designed intentionally to investigate nursing home abuse allegations, uncover substandard care, and ensure that remedial efforts are made to correct any wrongdoings and harm caused by neglect or abuse.
Widespread Staffing Issues at Nursing Homes
As encouraging as it might be that the allegations against San Miguel Villa were able to reach a multimillion-dollar settlement, it is important to realize that this situation is just one of many that need more attention. The problem of nursing home abuse is widespread across the country, so the Elder Justice Task Force has its work ahead of it.
According to an article recently published by USA Today, thousands of nursing homes have had lapses in their registered nurse (RN) schedules that lasted at least 24 hours, meaning elderly residents had no medical support for an entire day and night. To make matters worse, fewer than 5% of the nursing homes that committed this unacceptable error were ever cited by federal inspectors, and even fewer were fined for it. Furthermore, about 33% of nursing homes in the U.S. had some sort of staffing problem outside of RN-related issues.
The same USA Today investigation revealed that more than 75% of nursing homes that benefit from Medicare reported a nurse and/or aide shortage in 2021. Only 5% of those nursing homes were cited.
Can Nursing Home Staff Shortages Be Fixed?
It is clear that understaffing is a major problem at many nursing homes, but the solution isn’t clear. Some groups have lobbied for Medicare expansions that could pay for registered nurses in nursing homes, but others have argued that there simply aren’t enough RNs and elderly caretakers available to fill the gaps with or without more funding. The Biden Administration has recently pushed to increase the federal funding for nursing home inspections and enforcement by 25%, which would help the current $397 million budget keep up with inflation.
Another proposed solution would be to improve state-level staffing rules for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Only 35 states currently have minimum staffing requirements, which are still considered too low. The other 15 states, including states with significant elderly populations like Texas and New York, don’t have such regulations. By implementing rules at lower levels of the government, it could make inspections and enforcement of nursing home staffing requirements simpler and more efficient by removing federal red tape and additional steps.
(If you would like to know more about the growing problem of understaffed nursing homes and the “grossly substandard” care that they provide, you can click here to read the full USA Today News article ‘Many nursing homes are poorly staffed. How do they get away with it?’)
Call a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Have you or a loved one been subjected to nursing home abuse or neglect that was caused in part by staffing issues at an Arizona nursing home? Let Miller Kory Rowe know what happened by dialing (602) 461-8640. We can help you understand your rights and legal options to pursue individualized compensation through a claim or lawsuit. With our help, you can demand justice for the harm your family has suffered without worrying about the complications of federal regulations because we’ll be acting on your behalf.
Contact us online for a complimentary consultation.