A U.S. Court of Appeals recently sided with the federal government in regards to several federal law violations in a nursing home, which culminated in a patient’s attempted escape.
In the case, MISSISSIPPI CARE CENTER OF GREENVILLE v. United States Department of Health and Human Service, U.S. Ct. App, 5th Cir. (2013), a resident of a Mississippi nursing home left the facility without supervision or permission, and wandered out into the street. Luckily, the man was spotted by a staff member, and safely returned to the facility.
As a result of the incident, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found that, as a result of the facility’s inability to prevent such incidents, the nursing home’s residents were in immediate jeopardy. The facility was subsequently fined $85,000 and ordered to amend its policies and procedures. The facility then requested a hearing before an administrative law judge and, upon an adverse ruling, appealed to the administrative review board. The administrative review board upheld the ALJ’s findings. On appeal to this court, the facility challenged the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s factual findings and determination that the Center’s residents were in immediate jeopardy.
The facility argued before the appeals court that it should not have been held liable for the man’s attempted escape, because it was unforeseeable that he would attempt to flee. He had previously been wheelchair-bound and was heavily medicated. However, the court found that the man had been displaying restlessness and exit-seeking behaviors.
Additionally, the court upheld the lower agencies’ rulings regarding a lack of policies and procedures in place in order to prevent such elopements from occurring. It also found that there was a risk of immediate danger due to these shortcomings, specifically regarding adequate supervision.
The court found that the facility failed to demonstrate that the prior decisions were not supported by substantial evidence, nor that the conclusions were arbitrary or capricious. It thus affirmed the decision.
This case is interesting in that it wasn’t brought on behalf of the resident, but rather by the federal agency in charge of enforcing the health and safety regulations governing skilled nursing facilities. Luckily, in this case, the agency was able to require the facility to make changes prior to any residents suffering physical harm.
If you suspect that your loved one has been a victim of suspected neglect, abuse, or medical malpractice in a nursing home or assisted living facility within the Maryland or the Washington D.C. areas, contact the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC immediately. You can reach us by calling (800) 654-1949 or contact us through our website, in order to schedule your initial complimentary consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Egregious Case of Nursing Home Neglect Leads to Federal Lawsuit, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published December 18, 2013
Doctor Employed by Federal and State VA skirts Federal Claims in Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published December 10, 2013