Even the federal government knows nursing homes are hurting and killing people!

So one plus of having billions of our tax dollars going to pay for Granny’s nursing home stay (Medicare pays first 100 days typically and then if Granny qualifies, Medicaid pays the remainder) is that the feds keep a close eye on their money.

And last year, the feds released a four year study that was being done in skilled nursing facilities across the United States on adverse events that were occurring and injuring our seniors.

The entire report is available online – http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-06-11-00370.pdf, but I did want to focus on a few of the most surprising findings:

  • An estimated 22 percent of Medicare beneficiaries experienced adverse events during their SNF stays.
  • An additional 11 percent of Medicare beneficiaries experienced temporary harm events during their SNF stays.
  • Physician reviewers determined that 59 percent of these adverse events and temporary harm events were clearly or likely preventable.
  • They attributed much of the preventable harm to substandard treatment, inadequate resident monitoring, and failure or delay of necessary care.
  • Over half of the residents who experienced harm returned to a hospital for treatment, with an estimated cost to Medicare of $208 million in August 2011.
  • This equates to $2.8 billion spent on hospital treatment for harm caused in SNFs in FY 2011.

Read that again:

  • Over 1/2 of the injuries were preventable.
  • Almost 1/4 of all residents experienced at least 1 adverse event.
  • The cause of these harms (broken hips, head injuries, wounds, etc.) were caused by STAFFING – inadequate monitoring, failure to provide care etc.
  • These preventable harms cost you the tax payer over $2.5 Billion dollars every year.

Now, you don’t have to be a bleeding heart and care about sweet Granny’s health to be bothered by this. YOU the tax payer are being billed billions every year for completely preventable injuries suffered by our seniors.

And since the feds believe these injuries are caused by staffing issues, wouldn’t it make sense for EVERYONE to require certain staffing levels in nursing homes? After all – its not just regulation on private business… its smart investment that leads to savings of tax dollars being spent.

So why then, did our General Assembly in Virginia refuse to vote on minimum staffing levels in nursing homes?


I won’t share my opinion on that. I will however ask you to review the government’s report and make your own determination as to whether it was a wise decision for our citizens and tax payers.



Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.