Recently, PBS Frontline released a three-part series on problems within assisted-living facilities. The PBS series focused on Emeritus, a nationwide corporation with assisted-living facilities in as many as 47 states throughout the United States. Emeritus is a for-profit corporation and the PBS series highlighted some ways in which for-profit assisted-living centers may be putting the lives and health of patients at risk.
Our Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers believe that senior citizens have the right to live with dignity through their last years. When an assisted-living facility opens its doors to a resident and offers healthcare, life-care or other essential services, the assisted-living facility has certain obligations to ensure that nothing is done to harm the patient. Unfortunately, the PBS Frontline special on Life and Death in Assisted Living shows that patients very often are seriously harmed by care facilities that focus on profits over the needs of patients.
Assisted Living Abuses and Injuries
Assisted-living facilities are supposed to provide a less institutional alternative to nursing homes. These facilities allow a senior to get some basic help with life tasks but do not provide intensive or round-the-clock medical care. The idea is that when a resident becomes too ill or the demands of the resident's care exceed what the assisted-living facility can provide, the resident will leave to go to a nursing home.
When the assisted-living facility is for-profit, however, someone leaving to go to a nursing home means that a bed is left unfilled and there is no rent or fees to be collected. As such, employees of assisted-living facilities were being instructed to keep people from going "out the back door." The assisted-living facilities were trying to keep residents living there even when the residents should move on because they couldn't get needed medical help.
Unfortunately, the actions of the assisted-living facility came at a serious cost. One former pro-football player living in a facility, for example, died after ingesting industrial strength dishwashing chemicals that had not been secured. Another resident with dementia left the assisted-living facility and froze to death. Still another had serious and potentially life-threatening bedsores. The assisted-living facility not only failed to get any medical help for the patient beyond with bedsores having an unqualified employee rub cream into the sores, but the facility actually went so far as to hide the patient's condition from a nurse who was visiting to treat an open ulcer on the patient's foot. The woman who had the bedsores died as a result of the care that she didn't receive and her family took action against the facility and was awarded millions in damages.
When assisted-living facilities fail to provide reasonable care and services to patients and/or put patients' lives at risk to keep beds filled, the facilities must be held accountable. Only when it becomes unprofitable to act this way because of abuse and neglect lawsuits will these care facilities change the way in which they operate.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by nursing home abuse or neglect, contact Gary Martin Hays & Associates at 1-800-898-HAYS.