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Reforms expected among New Mexico's nursing homes

A lawsuit has been filed against a leading nursing home chain for not providing adequate care to residents. The attorney general of New Mexico sued the nursing home chain in December 2014, citing their thin staffing as the reason behind the negligence and inadequate care.

To measure the amount of nursing home neglect, the lawsuit paperwork reviewed the amount of time that was spent to complete basic tasks such as helping the residents to the bathroom and feeding them. The attorney general's office argued that the staff was inadequate in handling such tasks. The state of New Mexico has alleged that the hospital chain, apart from providing inadequate treatment, also billed the state and federal government incorrectly. The nursing home management has defended their case by saying that the state was referring to incidents that took place before they took over the nursing home chain.

The New Mexico attorney general said that the merits of this case were reviewed by his office to ensure the suit was in the best interest of the state's citizens. He also suggested that reform was necessary in the health care system. The case was further strengthened by the accounts of residents' families and former employees of the nursing home chain. The allegations brought against the nursing staff include leaving residents in soiled diapers and wet beds, not answering to calls for help and not being careful about their plan for care.

The lawsuit stated that by understaffing the nursing homes, the defendants may have saved money in the short term but the residents lost their dignity and their safety was put in jeopardy. It also stated that a revenue of more than $236 million was generated by the nursing homes, 80 percent of which was paid the by state and federal government though Medicare and Medicaid. Yet, the nursing homes failed to comply with state and federal regulations. If the state wins this case, changes in the operation of many nursing homes can be expected.

Although it's great that the state is cracking down on negligent nursing homes, individual families in Bernalillo may still find that their loved ones have been victimized. Fortunately, the legal system may afford these people ways to hold negligent nursing homes accountable.

Source: Albuquerque Journal, "New Mexico pushes claims of poor care at nursing home chain," Susan Montoya Bryan, April 2, 2015

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