Expert's View Inside a Nursing Home

Dr. Kathryn L. Locatell is a geriatrician who has extensive experience with nursing homes, personally and professionally.  Her first job as a teenager was in the kitchen of a nursing home, and her father died as the result of neglect in a nursing home.

Dr. Locatell was asked to testify before Congress about the state of nursing home care today. Although her experience is in California, her observations are equally true in North Carolina. If anything, the problems in North Carolina may be worse because our state has lower minimum staffing requirements.

Some excerpts:

“Last fall I visited a terminally ill patient who had been placed in a nursing facility when her family could no longer provide the care she needed at home. She was a Vietnamese immigrant who spoke no English,who was dying, and who had no way to communicate her needs to the staff. At 10:30 in the morning I was astounded to find her in bed, tightly restrained with a Posey vest on and wrist restraints in place. The smell of urine in the room was overpowering…. There was no order for such restraints on her chart.”

“One gentleman who was discharged to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation following knee replacement surgery spent 100 days receiving care for Stage IV decubitus ulcers he developed while a patient at the facility.”

“…I would like to touch on the issue of falsification of records in the nursing home. This problem is so serious that an entire hearing should be devoted to it alone. False charting occurs on a daily basis in every nursing home I have visited. It is particularly common in nurse’s aide charting. Because so much of the nursing home’s reimbursement and permit to operate depend on charting, no spot can be left blank. It is preferable to fill in anything, rather than imply the care was not provided or the condition not observed. There are a number of indications that the charting is false.”

You can read the full transcript of her testimony here:  hr22kl[1].

None of this information is new to the attorneys of HensonFuerst. We’ve heard similar stories and we’ve seen, first-hand, many of the same things in local nursing homes. We work daily to improve the quality of care for nursing home residents.

There are so many reforms needed–financial transparency of operating companies; greater consequences for noncompliance with health and safety requirements, and compassion. How would nursing home owners and workers react if they were forced to spend a week in their own facilities? Or if their parents or grandparents needed nursing home care? How would it feel to walk a mile in those shoes?

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