Bradley partner Jon Ferry was quoted in McKnights Long-Term Care News on federal, state and local level intent to strengthen investigations into elder abuse and fraud, including oversight of nursing homes. A two-day law enforcement summit – convened by the U.S. Department of Justice – is the latest in a series of signs that federal officials are taking aggressive steps to police long-term care facilities it suspects of providing inadequate care.
It seems likely that officials are signaling they will pursue more cases that seek large fines from nursing homes for providing care deemed inadequate, according to Ferry.
“A big meeting where they get everybody together and start talking about these things can certainly refocus those who are working in this field on enforcement,” Ferry explained. “Combine that with the fact that some active cases are starting to mature… the government is going to have a roadmap of what they want to do.”
Some providers have expressed concerns over increased regulatory burdens straining resources. Ferry agreed, both that increased scrutiny and penalties are appropriate responses to real deficiencies and that the DOJ’s investigations can become burdensome to nursing homes, especially if no deficiencies are ultimately found.
“The investigation itself, even if there is no finding of gross negligence that would lead to liability,” he explained, “is very expensive and burdensome for facilities and highly distracting to their personnel.”
Following this summit, officials seem poised to further step up oversight of chronic understaffing, failure to budget for staffing, as well as problems with daily operations such as injuries, lack of cleanliness and unaddressed resident complaints. These are all areas where providers can, and should, self-assess and proactively address potential concerns, according to Ferry. He also acknowledged that sometimes it can be difficult to discern the fine line between acceptable and inadequate care.
The full article, “Justice Department summit aims to strengthen nursing home investigations,” was published by McKnights Long-Term Care News on February 8, 2024.