In an alarming bit of information for those families in Mississippi with loved ones in nursing homes, the state recently earned a “D” on its nursing home report card issued by a national patient advocacy group. Families For Better Care said that the state has a long way to go to improve the quality of care offered to Mississippi seniors.
According to data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Mississippi sees an average of about eight violations per nursing home. Since 2010, Mississippi nursing homes have amassed a total of 4,542 health and safety violations. The trouble is so serious in fact that not a single one of the 205 licensed nursing home in Mississippi made it through without at least one violation.
Though some of the violations are technical and do not jeopardize the health of residents, it is not uncommon to see violations involving the use of unnecessary restraints, needless sedation, physical punishment as well as incidents of theft or emotionally painful isolation. In fact, CMS data shows that there were 255 such serious reports spread across 135 nursing homes in Mississippi in only the past three years.
In one horrible case demonstrating the harm caused by financial exploitation, nursing home employee Lee Ray Martin was arrested in 2011 for stealing more than $100,000 from the trust funds of nearly seven-dozen residents at her nursing home facility. As the trust fund manager, Martin had access to the money and wrote checks to herself, pretending that the money was going to buy necessities for the seniors. Instead, Martin used the money to buy jewelry and shoes.
Though physical abuse and financial abuse tragically occur, the most common violation found in Mississippi was the lack of an effective program to control the spread of infection among residents. A total of 180 nursing homes were cited for 313 violations. This category of harm is a serious one given the often-fragile health of many residents of Mississippi nursing homes. If infections are allowed to spread they can move like wildfire through the vulnerable residents, leading to serious illness and even death.
Every nursing home patient in Mississippi deserves to be well cared for. State and federal regulators should aggressively pursue those facilities that fall down on the job to help ensure that Mississippi seniors receive the highest quality care possible. When an accident or abuse occurs due to the negligence or purposeful actions of a nursing home staff member, the law allows patients and their loved ones to seek financial compensation for the harm they suffered.
If you have questions about a medical malpractice or nursing home matter, please contact the Mississippi personal injury attorneys and medical malpractice attorneys at Kilpatrick & Philley toll free at (601) 856-7800.
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