Higher Death Rates at Private Nursing Homes Raise Concern

On the surface of it, it would seem that private nursing homes would be able to deliver the kind of high- quality care that residents require. However, when nursing homes are run for profit, care may not necessarily be at the top of the agenda. In fact, according to a recent investigation, the opposite may be true.

Nursing homes, especially those that are taken over by private equity firms, actually seem to have lower standards of care compared to facilities that are not taken over by such buyout firms.  Private equity firms are companies that take over struggling companies or companies that are close to bankruptcy in order to turn them around.  Often, that turning around comes at great cost to employees and other stakeholders in the nursing homes. In recent years, a lot of private equity investment has flowed into the healthcare and nursing home industries.

The investigation by CBS found that there was a higher risk of death for residents of nursing homes that were taken over by these buyout firms. According to the investigation, these residents had a risk of dying during their stay at the nursing facility and approximately 3 months after leaving for home, that was 1.7 percentage point higher, compared to residents in other types of nursing homes. A 1.7% increase might not seem like a significant increase, but according to the investigation, this can mean an excess of 20,000 deaths over 12 years.

Staffing cuts are very common when a private equity firm takes over a nursing home. Additionally, there are other cost-cutting measures that the investment firm will likely undertake in order to lower losses and increase the potential for profits at the nursing facility.   Another common technique that private equity firms make use of to increase profits and cut costs at nursing homes is the increased use of psychotic medication at these facilities.  The use of psychotic medications on nursing homes patients is commonly referred to as “chemical restraint.”  Since turning the company’s bottom line around is the primary motive at these for-profit facilities, the use of antipsychotic medications is seen as a convenient substitute for staff, and therefore, an effective cost-cutting strategy. You require fewer staff members when you can instead drug residents to restrain them.

As many as 70% of the nation’s nursing homes are privately owned. Privately-owned nursing homes insist that their facilities offer a high standard of care, because better care typically translates into higher profits. That may not necessarily be true however, as the Covid-19 pandemic has shown. In fact, 4 out of every 10 Covid-19 deaths in the United States occurred at a nursing home, whether a privately-owned or a non-profit one.  It should be noted, however, that concerns of the quality of care given in privately-owned nursing homes have been raised long before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

If your loved one has suffered injuries in a nursing home as a result of abuse or neglect, talk to an Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer  and discuss his or her chances for compensation.  Your claim could help recover damages for medical costs, pain and suffering as well as other types of damages. 

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