Senior Living Chain is Facing a Lawsuit from the State of California
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
On March 15th, 2021, the State of California sued Brookdale Senior Living, accusing the biggest nursing home chain in the country of intentionally manipulating the nursing-home rating system as well as violating notice laws requiring families of patients to be given 30 days notice before discharging or transferring a patient from the facility.
Nursing facilities typically receive higher funds from Medicare patients.
This trend is the grounds for one of the primary allegations contained in this lawsuit. The official complaint alleges that the higher funds received from Medicare patients “... creates an incentive for Brookdale to discharge residents when their Medicare coverage ends regardless of the care and treatment needs of the residents.” By discharging or transferring certain residents, the facilities are then able to fill those empty beds with more Medicare-funded patients, bringing in higher profits than they would have with the past residents.
However, California's Patients' Bill of Rights requires that residents and their families be provided with adequate notice before a discharge or transfer, and requires that these moves only be allowed for specified reasons.
The complaint alleges that Brookdale used false advertising to lure patients and families to their facilities.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provide ratings for nursing homes all over the country based on a five-star scale. This is considered one of the best indicators of a nursing home’s quality, and takes into consideration factors such as staffing levels, pressure ulcers, weight loss, and falls for patients and their families to consider when looking for a good facility. The lawsuit alleges that Brookdale provided falsified data to CMS to obtain a higher rating and attract more residents.
Specifically, Brookdale allegedly reported false staffing information regarding their registered nurses (RNs) by inflating the number of hours the RN staff were said to be working with residents. Understaffing is one of the biggest problems in nursing homes, and can lead to dangerous situations for residents ranging from neglect to abuse.
The lawsuit is seeking a variety of penalties, injunctions, and restitution.
Nursing home neglect and abuse are big problems and just part of the reason CMS’s ratings are so important. Inaccurate ratings significantly increases a resident’s risk for neglectful or abusive treatment, which can be physically, psychologically, and financially damaging. The grand scale on which these violations are said to have been perpetrated have resulted in a lengthy prayer for relief, including but not limited to civil penalties, injunctions requiring Brookdale to change their policies, and monetary relief for those who suffered from the effects of the alleged false advertising and patients’ rights violations.
If you suspect a nursing home or care facility is violating patients’ rights or falsifying data, reach out to a nursing home abuse lawyer in your area to discuss what you can do.