White-Collar Crime, which takes in institutional abuse
I am finishing up my bachelor’s degree at UAFS and we just recently had a White-Collar Crime class, which takes in institutional abuse such as, financial white-collar crime with banking, corruption crime, political crime, etc. Also included are the medical abuses including nursing homes. When I read through some of these case histories, I felt sick.
“With people living longer and families spread farther apart, more and more Americans are forced to rely on nursing homes and other residential institutions for long-term care
Nursing homes now consume eight cents of every dollar spent on health care.”
There are between 1.4 and 1.7 million elderly and disabled Americans in nursing homes. The industry owes its spectacular growth to the federal government, which began dispensing Medicare and Medicaid funds in the 1960s on behalf of the elderly poor.
Since the nursing home industry is dominated by enterprises run for profit, and its personnel are among the lowest-paid health workers, quality of care may not be an overriding consideration in many facilities.
There was a congressional bill presented and passed in 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Act, which requires federal regulations related to the quality of care of the elderly residents of nursing homes. The act stipulates that “a nursing home facility must care for its residents in such a manner and in such an environment as will promote maintenance or enhancement of the quality of life of each resident.”
But profit trumps patients at many nursing homes.
“For example, the Habana Health Care Center, a 150-bed nursing home in Tampa, Florida, was bought up by a group of large private investment companies in 2002. The new managers quickly cut costs.” Within months, the facility lost half of its the registered nurses so that care also reflected 50% of what it had been previously.
The investors were soon earning millions of dollars in profits from Habana and the 48 other nursing home properties taken over. “But at what cost to the patients?” Over the following three years, 15 Habana residents died from what their families contend was negligent care.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, with thousands of these properties flipped, drained of funds and sold, the residents “have fared more poorly than occupants of other homes under common problems such as depression, loss of mobility and loss of ability to dress and bathe themselves.”
Mistreatment of Patients
In one case reported in Houston, for example, an aged woman was so neglected that her death was not even discovered until rigor mortis had set in. Another woman at the same facility had to be hospitalized for rat bites.
Nursing home residents are among the most vulnerable and helpless citizens in the U.S. This can be illustrated by a 2009 Maryland identity fraud case, in which a nursing assistant stole information from her patients, used it to apply for credit cards, and charged more than $8,600 in their names. She was later sentenced to five years in prison.
Other similar scandals include the following cases:
In Florida, state officials removed 6 elderly people from a nursing home after they found one of them suffering from deformities caused by neglect and others strapped into urine-soaked chairs or in beds covered with feces. In another Florida case, an 88-year-old man, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, was restrained in bed for so many hours he developed such severe bedsores that they “ate through his skin, muscles, and bones.” There is no delicate way to put it: over a four-month period, the patient actually rotted to death.
Okay, I will not put you through the additional pages of horror—the travesty with which nursing home patients are neglected and what they can endure. But I do want you to seriously think about what your future and care will become.
(Notes and references available upon request.)