A nursing home in Hyattsville, Maryland has been under investigation by state health officials for more than a year following multiple allegations of neglect, including at least one death. The number of complaints and cited deficiencies led the state to put the nursing home on a national register of nursing homes with poor track records. Although the nursing home has faced fines totaling thousands of dollars, state officials claim that it has not resulted in improvements to care at the facility.
According to WTTG News in Washington DC, the St. Thomas More nursing home received sixty citations from state health inspectors in 2010 for deficiencies. It received thirty-six citations in 2011, and it has received twenty-seven in 2012 as of mid-November. The state’s Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ) has reportedly cited it for deficiencies such as medication errors, residents’ rights violations, and failure to follow patient care plans. About three months ago, according to one complaint, a patient died after nursing home staff failed to provide adequate emergency medical treatment. A medical malpractice lawsuit accused the nursing home of negligence in the 2005 death of a resident from bedsore-related complications. The nursing home settled the suit in 2011 for an undisclosed amount.
WTTG reported the story of James Franklin, a former patient at the facility who allegedly nearly died from injuries similar to those of the decedent in the lawsuit mentioned above. Franklin went to St. Thomas More after a hospital discharge, and at the time of his admission, medical records reportedly showed that he had a bedsore described as “small and healing.” Franklin returned to the hospital a month later, where the bedsore was found to have grown to cover a large section of his back and buttocks. The wound had turned gangrenous, and infection had spread deep into his tissues. He was in septic shock and at risk of imminent death. He is reportedly recovering at a different nursing home, but still has health difficulties resulting from the bedsore. Franklin’s wife filed a formal complaint against St. Thomas More with OHCQ. An investigation of Franklin’s case by state health officials reportedly found no evidence of abuse or neglect, but the Franklins are persisting in their claims.
The state has identified the nursing home as a “special focus facility” (SFF), a list maintained nationally by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Only two nursing homes in Maryland, out of over two hundred statewide, are on this list. In addition to inclusion on a publicly-accessible list, SFFs are subject to additional inspections by CMS personnel. CMS states that most SFFs remain on the list for eighteen to twenty-four months, after which they “graduate” if they show sufficient improvement, or they are terminated from the Medicare and Medicaid programs. As of mid-November 2012, St. Thomas More has been listed as an SFF for twenty months. Its most recent survey by CMS was in March.
Nursing homes owe a duty of care to their residents to provide competent medical and other services. Facilities that breach this duty may be liable for the resulting injuries. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we help people in Maryland obtain compensation for injuries caused by nursing home abuse or neglect. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949.
Special Focus Facility (“SFF”) Initiative (PDF file), Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, November 15, 2012 (source)
More Blog Posts:
Study Finds Link Between Feeding Tubes and Bedsores, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, May 22, 2012
Family of Man Who Died from Bedsores Receives $3.2 Million Jury Award, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, May 8, 2012
Hospital to Pay $5.4M in Bedsore Injury Lawsuit, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, July 19, 2011
Photo credit: ‘Dematha stained glass’ by Globalglenn [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons.