The Massachusetts Attorney General has had enough. In March, Attorney General Maura Healey imposed fines of $30,000 to $200,000 on seven Massachusetts nursing homes that inadvertently killed five residents through systemic failures.
One of the victims was Betsy Crane, a woman who resided at Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Westborough, MA. Betsy fell at least 19 times before her daughter discovered Betsy bleeding from her head after a fall in July 2015. A nurse applied a bandaid and staff eventually sent Betsy to the hospital, but only after she felt unwell and complained. Ten days after her initial fall, Betsy internally bled to death from the head injury.
The nursing home staff should have prevented the falls after a pattern emerged. Instead, the staff failed to intervene adequately, and this failure led to her unnecessary death. Unfortunately, Betsy is just one of many victims of systemic failures in Massachusetts nursing homes.
Systematic Failures Among Massachusetts Nursing Homes
The seven nursing homes involved are accused of severe negligence and errors that have directly resulted in death. The Attorney General’s office investigated the claims and, in all cases, concluded the deaths were a result of systemic failures that could have been prevented with better care.
The Massachusetts nursing homes’ failures include:
- Ignoring serious injuries resulting in death
- Medication error resulting in death
- Inadequate treatment of substance abuse
- Failing to prevent a resident from escaping a secure unit
In all instances, better quality and standards of care are likely to have prevented the deaths, as well as countless other injuries incurred by residents at the facilities. Instead, residents were routinely abused through systemic neglect.
Settlements With the Attorney General
The Attorney General announced the settlements after investigators found egregious errors at seven facilities. The settlements expedite justice, mandate changes and set a clear standard for the 400+ other nursing homes in the state.
“Our investigations revealed that these facilities have systemic failures that led to significant harm and, in some cases, death to residents. Under the terms of these agreements, these facilities will be implementing broad changes and adopting strict and multi-year compliance programs,” said Healy.
“We’re sending a clear message about the standards of care we expect of all facilities in this state. These settlements hold facilities accountable and will help restore the trust families need when making critical decisions about the care of their loved ones.” — Maura Healy, Massachusetts Attorney General
The facilities being held accountable through the settlement are:
- Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center – Westborough
- Woodbriar Health Center – Wilmington
- Braemoor Health Center – Brockton (Permanently Closed)
- Park Avenue Health Center – Arlington
- New England Health Center – Sunderland
- Oxford Rehabilitation & Health Care Center – Haverhill
- JGC Lifecare – Longmeadow
The nursing homes will pay more than $500,000 in combined fines, half of which are allocated towards nursing home safety initiatives. The fines are part of a settlement that also states that the state will not prosecute the nursing homes. However, it does not protect the nursing home from lawsuits from family members, and some of the facilities were already sued.
Nursing Home Abuse Prevention
The settlements are intended to prevent nursing home abuse from happening in the future. Attorney General Healey is sending a message that goes well beyond the nursing homes involved.
“Our resolutions cannot change what happened or ease the suffering of families, but we can help ensure these failures don’t happen again. While our settlements focus on seven facilities, we are also sending a clear message about the standards of care we expect of all facilities in our state,” said Healey.
Fines and settlements force nursing homes to improve their standards and provide a higher level of care. Civil action is embarrassing and harms profits, but the settlement also legally forces nursing homes to make improvements. Five of the Massachusetts nursing homes in question are now required to upgrade training, improve policies, participate in annual audits and report to Healey’s office for the next three years.
The MA attorney general’s involvement in these nursing homes makes it clear that nursing home abuse and negligence is unacceptable. Residents have a clear right to safety and a reasonable standard of care, and nursing homes that fail to provide those two things will be held accountable.
If you’re concerned about how a nursing home facility has treated you or a loved one, contact Nursing Home Abuse Justice. Our legal experts will conduct a free case review and help you identify your options.
Boston Globe, “AG announces settlements after allegations that problems at nursing homes led to deaths,” Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/03/13/deaths-and-injuries-prompt-sweeping-nursing-home-investigations-and-safety-reforms/m5gEcB6q7im3wbFfwQ23PO/story.html Accessed on March 13, 2019.
Boston Herald, “7 Mass. nursing homes settle with state AG over patient deaths and injuries,” Retrieved from https://www.bostonherald.com/2019/03/13/nursing-home-target-of-healeys-office/ Accessed on March 13, 2019.