In a surprising article last week, ABC news reported that nursing homes are evicting “problem” residents at an increasing rate. Since 2000, evictions are up about 57%, and, in 2014, evictions were the top-reported grievance.
What Constitutes a “Problem” Patient?
Problem residents are not those who intentionally make care difficult, nor are they those who try to disrupt those around them. Instead, they are more often those having dementia and who require advanced and more time-consuming care. They also tend to be poor, and likely to be on Medicaid.
Nursing home evictions appear to be based upon the cold hard facts regarding patient care and profitability. With respect to the amount of care, in order to make a profit, nursing homes can only afford a certain level of staffing; otherwise, the staffing cost can be too high. Staff, on average, can only afford to spend a certain amount of time per patient. When the per patient time allotted is not sufficient, inadequate care results. By removing the “problem” patients who need more care and replacing them with residents needing less care, nursing homes can then assure that they have enough staffing to provide adequate care to their residents while making a profit.
The second profit factor concerns the amount being paid for the resident. Medicaid pays substantially less than private-payer insurances. Additionally, insurance paying for short-term rehabilitative care can also pay more than Medicaid. These factors make it attractive for nursing homes to evict problem residents when increased profit opportunities arise.
How Can Nursing Homes Evict “Problem” Residents?
Under federal law, nursing homes are not supposed to be able to evict residents except under very limited conditions, such as facility closure. One exception, however, is that a nursing home may evict a resident if the nursing home is no longer able to meet the resident’s needs. This exception is the one often cited by nursing homes in connection with evicting problem patients.
Patient advocates claim that there is little to no federal enforcement concerning whether a resident was evicted on a proper ground. Because of this lack of enforcement, nursing homes appear to be able to freely interpret this exception however they wish. As a result, it is often financially advantageous to evict the “problem” residents in order to make room for residents requiring less care who are more profitable.
What Happens to Those Evicted?
It’s not clear. In some cases, residents may go to live with loved ones. In other cases, residents may be discharged to an even lower care facility. They may even be discharged to a homeless shelter.
This is Wrong.
Nursing homes can and must ensure that the level of care provide for each resident meets the standard of care required. When this level is not met, the typical result is injuries and even death to residents. This is not acceptable.
At our firm we provided representation to residents who are injured by negligent nursing home care, the families who have lost a loved one due to nursing home abuse and neglect. Many of our cases ultimately stem from one cause – nursing homes putting profits over patients.
If a loved one has been injured or has died as the result of nursing home abuse or neglect, please call us to learn how we can help.
 Nursing Homes Turn to Eviction to Drop Difficult Patients, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/nursing-homes-turn-eviction-drop-difficult-patients-38966799