Nursing Home Oversight
INsight Interview with David Farnbauch from 05/11/2017 explaining the governmental oversight of Nursing Homes and their performance score.
Q Welcome back to INsight. We’re with Dave Farnbauch, here at Sweeney Law, and we want to talk about governmental oversight of nursing homes. Is there much?
A Well, Dirk, nursing homes are licensed facilities that are licensed by the State of Indiana and the Indiana State Department of Health does employ surveyors to go out and inspect nursing homes to check for compliance with state and federal regulations, so, yes, indeed, there is state regulation or oversight of nursing homes in our state.
Q So, I guess I’m thinking, as a restaurant consumer, they’ve started in some states putting the letter grade right there in the window. Is there an easy way for me to find out the same thing with a nursing home, like what these scores are?
A There is. Actually, the Indiana State Department of Health has a website that you can go and look and see if there are what they call deficiencies. They give, sort of, nursing homes a score card. So, there is, there are resources available online with the Indiana State Department of Health to check on the performance of nursing homes, as far as compliance with state regs.
Q Are there, is it in a language that I can understand, as a layman, or are there certain deficiencies that maybe they word them certain ways, so I don’t necessarily know what’s going on?
A Yes, I mean, I think they’re fairly understandable. So, once again, you’re looking for, you’re looking to avoid nursing homes that receive what they call F tags that are violations of the regulations.
Q Okay. Do those nursing homes get penalized? Do they instantly have to fix those things? How does that system work?
A You know, what’s interesting, Dirk, is that, this is what we often tell our clients, that the penalties that are assessed by the State of Indiana, when there are non-compliance with state and federal regulations, I like to call them a slap on the wrist. You know, if you look every year, the highest fine might be $2,500. So, if you’re a corporation running a chain of nursing homes and you’re faced with a $2,500 fine, I don’t think there’s much incentive, from that standpoint, to comply with the regulations. Sometimes they threaten, you know, they’ll say, well, we’re going to suspend your license if you don’t take these corrective actions, but it’s extremely rare in the state of Indiana that a nursing home’s license is actually suspended.
Q Would I contact the State if, you know, I have a loved one in a nursing home and something has happened to them? Do families typically go that direction and expect enforcement?
A You know, it’s pretty common. A lot of times people will come into us and they’ll want to pursue a nursing home neglect case and they’ll say, “I have contacted the State and requested that they do an investigation.” And, once again, we tell clients that’s fine to do that. I think that’s a good thing to do, but people have to understand, the staff that’s available, you know, through the Attorney General’s office or the Indiana State Department of Health to do complaint investigations, you know, it’s not really adequate to really police all the nursing homes in the state of Indiana that are providing substandard care to residents.
Q So, typically, then, I guess I’m asking, then, what do I do if I’m uncomfortable with something going on at, you know, at my loved one’s nursing home?
A Well, we think, and we’ve said this many times, one of the most important reasons why families can, for families to pursue a nursing home neglect case is to prevent this from happening to another family and we think that pursuing a legal case against a nursing home for substandard care is a very important deterrent to prevent things from happening to elderly in nursing homes.
Q All right. Good information and I know your website, full of information, as well, at Sweeneylawfirm.com. If you’d like to find out more, jump online and learn more or just give them a call. We will be right back on INsight.