Med-Mal Settlements Forcing Nursing Homes to Leave Certain States
In August, Canadian-owned Extendicare Health ServicesInc. said it would lease its 22 skilled-nursing homes in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia to a third-party operator. It cited a fourfold increase in liability claims in those states in recent years “despite a strong and improving quality record.” The company similarly pulled out of Kentucky in 2012. This is just one example of a large group of nursing homes getting out of certain states.
While large nursing-home operators have beefed up staffing and made other improvements, for-profit facilities are still more likely to be cited for severe health deficiencies than other types, according to survey data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In the government’s fiscal 2013, 19% of for-profit homes had a health deficiency of actual harm or immediate jeopardy to residents, compared with 15% of nonprofit homes and 17.7% of government-run ones. The national rate is 18.1%.
Lawyers for nursing-home operators say the concentration of cases filed in states with limited or nonexistent curbs on non-economic damages means lawsuits that elsewhere might be settled for $50,000 can generate much larger settlements or verdicts. Indiana is one of the states with a cap on damages, so Indiana hasn’t seen a mass exodus that other states have seen.
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