A recent federal investigation has raised concerns among politicians and officials regarding nursing home neglect. The investigation revealed that many nursing homes are not undergoing regular inspections due to a shortage of inspectors.
"States reported that severe staffing shortages and high turnover rates, driven largely by the inability to offer competitive salaries, hampers their ability to conduct annual surveys on time and promptly investigate complaints," says the recent federal report, as quoted in USA Today.
These gaps in regular inspections raise questions about the safety and care provided to vulnerable residents in these facilities. The situation is no different in Georgia, where nursing homes may also face inadequate scrutiny due to a shortage of inspections.
Nursing homes not being inspected
The United States Senate Special Committee On Aging recently conducted a nursing home inspection study, which revealed concerning findings. In 31 states and the District of Columbia, more than 20 percent of the nursing home inspector positions remained unfilled. Even more alarming, in nine states, over half of the inspection positions were vacant, as reported in a 98-page-long report cited by USA Today.
A previous investigation by USA Today uncovered that many nursing home facilities with fewer nurses and aides than federal guidelines do not receive citations from inspectors. This is despite decades of research indicating that nurse and aide staffing levels are among the most critical factors influencing care quality and play a pivotal role in reducing instances of violence and neglect.
"The system responsible for ensuring that nursing homes meet health and safety standards is in crisis," U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a veteran Democrat from Pennsylvania who chairs the senate committee, said in a recent interview with USA Today.
Are Georgia nursing homes being inspected?
Like many states, Georgia is not doing enough to regularly inspect nursing homes to make sure they're safe and that the nursing home is following all the mandatory state and federal laws governing these facilities.
The recent federal report noted that Georgia ranks 52nd among U.S. states and territories for citing nursing homes for deficiencies. In particular, federal officials were critical of Georgia's nursing home oversight program as a whole, stating, "surveyors lack knowledge of the Federal participation requirements; often failed to utilize sound clinical judgment in determining survey outcomes; and failed to utilize CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) guidance and protocols to accurately determine scope and severity."
Georgia's Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, the agency that investigates allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect in the state, acknowledged in the recent federal report that "multiple complaints filed by a regional ombudsman went unanswered for months."
Holding negligent nursing facilities accountable
There's no doubt that many of the people who work for Georgia's Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman care about what happens to nursing home residents. But this state agency often doesn't have the resources or the inspectors to do the work needed when nursing home residents are being harmed.
If you suspect your loved one is being harmed, it's essential to seek help from an experienced nursing home neglect and abuse lawyer who can help your family demand justice and accountability.
Contact our law firm right away to review your potential legal options. We handle nursing home neglect and abuse cases throughout Georgia, and we are here to provide you with compassionate and effective legal representation.