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Current Nursing Home Staffing Rules in Virginia

Despite numerous pandemic deaths, Virginia still has no rules dictating minimum nursing home staffing requirements. According to recent AARP statistics, Virginia’s nursing home COVID-19 death rate is the country’s second-highest. However, the state’s nursing home staffing issues began long before the pandemic. Some of Virginia’s nursing homes consistently receive low marks year after year, with several facilities garnering federal attention for immediate corrective action. The lack of proper Virginia nursing home staffing requirements has contributed to many of the ongoing issues multiple facilities have encountered in recent years. When there is a lack of staff, the residents are the ones who suffer. There tends to be a direct link between understaffing in a nursing home and increased neglect and abuse cases. In 2019, Richmond Times-Dispatch published an expose on the problems plaguing some of Virginia’s nursing homes. The title tells you all you need to know: “Bedsores, burns and a maggot: 5 Va. nursing homes on federal list of persistent underperformers.” Legislation to Establish Minimum Staffing Ratios Died Despite the increase in deaths due to the pandemic, there’s still no current Virginia legislation addressing minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes. 2020 marked the 16th time a proposal to set minimum staffing requirements was brushed off, even though Virginia nursing homes continue to be ranked so low. The proposal came from state Senator Jennifer Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach, who wants nursing homes to provide a minimum of one direct-care staffer per six patients. The current reality is that some caregivers are assigned three to seven times that number. Some nurses have reported they are typically assigned anywhere between 20 and 40 patients every shift. Nurses being overworked means they can’t adequately care for residents, ensure high-risk patients are appropriately monitored, etc. That is why neglect and abuse are rampant within the Virginia nursing home system. Even though the proposal was shot down in 2020, legislators ordered the Department of Health to create a workgroup that would review and share recommendations on how to increase the Virginia nursing home workforce.  Updates to the Proposal in 2021 Fast forward to 2021, and it’s now the 17th time this proposal was killed. The workgroup held meetings, but when the final list came out, the top three recommendations out of 34 were focused on creating optional service-learning credits for students who were volunteering in these long-term care facilities. Further down on the list were proposals that would pay facilities a higher Medicaid reimbursement amount if they achieved specific nursing home staffing ratios. The first suggestion was to start at 12 patients to one caregiver and eventually reach the desired six-to-one ratio over the following four budget cycles. Lobbyists for nursing homes voted against both of these recommendations. The Virginia Health Care Association—Virginia Association of Assisted Living, was against instituting any type of staff-to-resident ratio. They argue that there needs to be more credentialed health care professionals in Virginia and that establishing staff-to-resident ratios isn’t going to work without having certified nurses who want to be there. How Nursing Home Staff Ratios Contributed to COVID-19 Deaths While staffing shortages existed long before the pandemic, COVID-19 exacerbated them, further contributing to the virus’s spread. According to the Virginia Department of Health, long-term care facilities are the second biggest source of outbreaks. There have been over 31,000 cases of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, resulting in nearly 4,000 deaths. The next highest source of cases is at correctional facilities, with just over 18,000 cases and only 61 deaths. Those are significantly lower numbers than in nursing homes.   One of the reasons COVID-19 spread so rapidly through nursing homes is due to the shortage of staff. Many of the low-paid staff work at multiple facilities. If they contracted the virus and worked in two to three facilities in the same week, imagine all the people they exposed. Staffing shortages also led to not isolating positive COVID-19 patients from the negative ones. For nursing home residents, nursing home staffing issues literally mean the difference between life and death right now. Virginia Nursing Homes Continue to Rank Low Virginia nursing homes consistently fall to the bottom of the charts on various ranking criteria. For example, Families for Better Care has ranked Virginia as 36 overall with an overall grade of “D” for the third consecutive time. The report card shows residents receive less than two hours and 17 minutes of direct care daily. Three out of four nursing homes didn’t reach an above-average rating in the inspection. Overall, nursing home care in Virginia is second to the bottom for the Mid-Atlantic Region, barely squeezing above Pennsylvania as the worst state.  What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse Deciding to move a loved one to a long-term care facility is complicated enough in normal times. Having to do it during the pandemic is even worse. It’s crucial to do your research to find the best long-term care facility for your family member. However, even if you choose the best one, there’s no guarantee that residents are fully protected against neglect and abuse. To help protect your loved ones, you must monitor your family member’s condition and watch for red flags of abuse and neglect. If you suspect something is amiss, speak with a skilled Virginia nursing home abuse attorney right away. At Lantz & Robins, P.C., we have decades of combined experience handling nursing home abuse cases. Contact our office to schedule an initial consultation. Let us review your situation and explain the best course of legal action.

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How to Report a Nursing Home in Virginia

Moving a family member to a nursing home is a scary transition. You assume your loved ones will be well taken care of and receive the care they need. However, not all nursing home employees treat residents with the respect they deserve. If you suspect your loved one is being neglected or abused, it’s imperative you take action immediately. You may be wondering how to report a nursing home in Virginia. There are Virginia elder abuse laws with provisions to protect nursing home residents. You can file a report with the Virginia Department of Health to start. You can also speak with one of our Virginia nursing home abuse attorneys at Lantz & Robins, P.C., today to discuss the best course of action for your situation.   How to Report a Nursing Home for Neglect You might assume that your only course of action is to file a lawsuit against the nursing home, but we don’t recommend that option to start. To win a lawsuit against the nursing home, you need to prove that the nursing home was negligent and that its negligence was the proximate cause of your family member’s injuries. You also have to show that your loved one suffered harm due to the nursing home’s negligence. Even though your family member may have suffered some harm, you don’t need to file a lawsuit for every incident. You may be better off trying to resolve it out of court. Not to mention a lawsuit will take considerable time to resolve, and it could be well over a year before your case settles. Not to mention, there’s always a risk that Medicaid or Medicare will want their share of the settlement. So, what do you do instead? Many clients we speak with say their primary concern is to ensure that the abuse or neglect doesn’t happen to another family. Filing a report with the appropriate agency in Virginia will trigger them to open an investigation to check out your concerns. Where to Report a Problem with a Nursing Home in Virginia? When you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect in Virginia, you need to file a complaint with the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC). The board will investigate your concerns by sending out a team of investigators to the nursing home to review the situation. They will not give the nursing home any notice either. During their visit, they will check your family member’s chart and condition and verify whether the level of care received met the legal standards of Virginia law. You can report the suspected abuse or neglect by contacting the Virginia Department of Health hotline at 1-800-955-1819. There is also an online Virginia nursing home report form you can complete and return in the mail or via fax. The OLC only responds to complaints involving suspected neglect, abuse, inadequate care, mistreatment, failure to treat, etc. They have no jurisdiction over any disputes related to billing practices or fees. Contact a Virginia Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer If you believe your case is severe enough to warrant legal action beyond a formal complaint with the Virginia Department of Health, you need to speak with one of our attorneys. Our legal team has decades of combined personal injury experience, including with nursing home abuse cases. We can review your circumstances and advise you on the best course of action. Contact Lantz & Robins, P.C., today to schedule an initial consultation.

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Who Regulates Nursing Homes in Virginia

Are you faced with the need to decide whether to send a loved one to a nursing home, or is a family member already a resident? Understandably, it’s a very serious matter and a decision that should not be taken lightly. You may have many questions related to the process, the nursing home’s record, what your family member can expect, what to do if you suspect neglect or abuse, etc. If you already have a loved one in a nursing home, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with who regulates nursing homes in Virginia and where to report any issues.  You can also contact the experienced team of Virginia nursing home neglect lawyers at Lantz & Robins, P.C., to discuss your concerns. We will review your circumstances and advise you on the best course of action. Who Is Responsible for Regulating Nursing Homes in Virginia? The Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC) operates under the Virginia Department of Health. They administer the state licensing programs for all medical facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient surgical centers, hospice programs, and home care organizations. They are also responsible for conducting inspections and monitoring complaints to verify nursing homes are complying with all state requirements. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) oversee things on a national level. They contract with state-level agencies like the OLC to certify that the nursing homes and suppliers who participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs comply with the minimum health and safety standards. Under their regular certification process, they ensure nursing homes adhere to all federal certification requirements. The Joint Commission Accreditation Nursing homes can also apply for voluntary accreditation through The Joint Commission. This accreditation lets people know the nursing home is committed to excellence throughout all aspects of care. Some potential benefits of Joint Commission accreditation include: Strengthens people’s confidence in the quality and safety of care, services, and treatment their family members will receive; Helps maintain and organize patient safety efforts; Could reduce liability costs for the nursing home; Reduces risk and improves risk management; Recognized by insurance companies and third parties; Provides deeming authority for certification from Medicare; Fulfills regulatory requirement in some states; Provides professional advice and counsel, including educating staff; and Aligns a nursing home with the most respected names in healthcare. Although there are many benefits for nursing homes to pursue voluntary accreditation, not everyone will go the extra mile. You can search for accredited nursing homes in Virginia by searching the Quality Check website. Currently, there are less than 100 certified nursing home facilities in Virginia. Nursing Home Reform Act Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing homes across the country are legally required to provide services and activities that achieve or maintain the highest levels of physical, psychosocial, and mental well-being of all residents per the written care plan. Before a nursing home can qualify to participate in Medicaid and Medicare, it must adhere to all federal requirements applicable to long-term care facilities. Examples of some federal regulations require nursing homes to: Conduct an initial accurate and comprehensive assessment of every nursing home resident’s functional capacity; Have an appropriate number of nursing home staff members; Assist with activities of daily living, such as grooming or personal oral hygiene, if the resident is unable to carry out these activities on their own; Develop a comprehensive care plan for all residents of the nursing home; Promote every resident’s quality of life; Complete and maintain accurate clinical records on every resident that are easily accessible; Verify all residents receive satisfactory supervision and assistive devices that will prevent accidents; Promote every resident’s quality of life; Verify residents are free from any significant medication errors; Keep residents from developing pressure sores or, if a patient has one, treat them so they heal and new ones do not form; and Provide all residents with enough fluids, so they do not become dehydrated. Before a nursing home is eligible to receive funds from Medicare or Medicaid, it must comply with all aspects of the Nursing Home Reform Act. Elder Justice Act The Elder Justice Act was passed in 2010 to address neglect, abuse, and exploitation of older adults on a federal level. New initiatives and programs emerged that have helped promote elder justice research, coordinate better federal response to issues surrounding elder abuse, increase protections for nursing home residents, and support Adult Protective Services systems. The Elder Justice Coordinating Committee was also formed under the new act, coordinating activities across the federal government related to elder neglect, abuse, and exploitation. What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse in Virginia? If your loved one is already in a nursing home and you suspect abuse or neglect, it’s crucial you take immediate action. The first thing you should do is file a nursing home complaint with the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Licensure and Certification. The OLC has a comprehensive nursing home complaint form that you can use to detail what is going on. If the abuse is serious, you can call the hotline number at 800-955-1819. You can return the form via mail or fax as well. Once you file a complaint, the OLC will open an investigation and send out inspectors to review your family member’s chart. These visits are unannounced, so the nursing home doesn’t have time to alter any records or cover up anything. Contact a Virginia Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer Did your loved one suffer serious harm or injuries due to a nursing home’s negligent or intentional acts? You may be considering legal action. To learn the best course of action, you should speak with an experienced Virginia nursing home neglect and abuse attorney. At Lantz & Robins, P.C., our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience with personal injury matters, including nursing home neglect and abuse. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us review your circumstances and see how we can help.

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What Is Nursing Home Negligence in Virginia?

If you suspect a loved one is being abused or neglected in their nursing home, it’s imperative to take action right away. Some prospective clients want to file a lawsuit against the nursing home immediately. However, filing a complaint against a nursing home in Virginia requires you to prove negligence. Without proper evidence, the nursing home will not be held accountable. You can also file a complaint with the Virginia Department of Health. To learn more about how to report nursing home abuse, we recommend speaking with a skilled Virginia nursing home abuse attorney. Defining Nursing Home Negligence in Virginia Nursing homes are held to a high standard of care. Nursing home residents are guaranteed certain protections and rights when living at a nursing home facility, one of which is the right to be free from any type of neglect or abuse. Under the federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, nursing homes that receive Medicaid or Medicare funds are required to maintain a safe environment for all their elderly residents. When a nursing home fails to adhere to the required standard of care, it can be held accountable for its actions. Proving negligence in a lawsuit requires you to show: The nursing home was negligent (the nursing home made a mistake); Their negligence was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries (their mistake caused the injury); and The injury was severe and resulted in damages (the plaintiff’s injuries required medical treatment). You want to have strong evidence before you consider filing a legal complaint. You also need to weigh the pros and cons of filing a lawsuit. Lawsuits can take years to resolve, they tend to be very costly, and there’s a good chance that Medicaid or Medicare will take a significant percentage of the settlement. Instead, look at filing a complaint with the Virginia Department of Health first. At Lantz & Robins, P.C., our legal team has decades of combined experience handling Virginia nursing home abuse and neglect cases. We can help you get a complaint filed with the Department of Health and determine whether you have enough evidence to proceed with a lawsuit. How to Report Nursing Home Abuse to the Virginia Department of Health? The Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC) oversees activities and licenses for Virginia nursing home facilities. You can report a concern by phone or file a written complaint. You’ll need to share detailed information on your concerns and why you suspect abuse or neglect. The OLC will send out an investigator unannounced to investigate and review your family member’s chart. The investigator will determine whether the nursing home provides the standard of care as required by the law. Filing a claim with the Office of Licensure and Certification does not cost you anything, but it can have a significant impact. It could help stop the abuse and neglect against your family member, as well as other residents of the facility. Contact a Virginia Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer To learn more about nursing home abuse and neglect and discuss the best course of action for your particular situation, speak with our experienced Virginia nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers. Contact Lantz & Robins, P.C., today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us put our years of experience with nursing home abuse and personal injury cases to work for you and help you hold the nursing home accountable for mistreating someone you love.   

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The Process of a Nursing Home Lawsuit in Richmond

Nursing home abuse and neglect are problems plaguing facilities all around the country. You assume that when you move a loved one into a nursing home, they will be well cared for and treated with respect. When that doesn’t happen, the resident’s family may need to file a lawsuit to hold the nursing home accountable for negligence. A nursing home abuse lawsuit can be notoriously complicated cases to resolve. It can take months or even years before defendants are willing to negotiate any nursing home negligence lawsuit settlements. To learn more about how to file a lawsuit for nursing home abuse and neglect in Virginia, speak with an experienced Richmond nursing home attorney at Lantz & Robins, P.C. How a Richmond Nursing Home Lawsuit Works Before filing a lawsuit, many victims and their families will try to pursue a settlement with the nursing home directly. Settling out of court can save both time and money. However, you could be settling for less money if you handle the claim yourself. That is why having a legal advocate like Lantz & Robins, P.C., on your side is so important. Insurance companies know plaintiffs don’t have legal experience or understand the claims process, so they often extend offers for far less than the case is worth. If your case doesn’t resolve out of court, then your attorney will file a lawsuit on the victim’s behalf. The defendants will need to file an answer to your lawsuit. Depending on the case’s circumstances, your attorney may begin negotiations right away, or they may start depositions and utilize other investigative tools. At some point, you could be required to attend a mediation where an impartial third party tries to help you resolve your outstanding differences so you can settle the case. During the litigation process, your attorney may issue a settlement demand to the defendant, or the defendant may voluntarily extend a settlement offer. There is no exact order that all cases follow in litigation, which is why it’s hard to predict when nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit settlements will happen. If you still cannot reach a settlement with the nursing home in the early stages of litigation, then your attorney will begin preparing your case for trial. How Long Does It Take to Settle a Nursing Home Lawsuit in Richmond? Because every case is different, there is no set time or average for how long nursing home negligence settlements take to negotiate. The more substantial evidence you can present to the nursing home’s defense team, the better your chance of resolving the matter sooner. When you have an experienced Richmond nursing home negligence attorney representing you, your case will likely resolve for more money than if you were unrepresented. In many situations, it can take months or even years before a nursing home lawsuit will settle. Factors that influence the time it takes to resolve your case include the amount of evidence, the severity of the victim’s injuries, their prognosis for recovery, and more. If your case ends up in litigation and may head to trial, it can take significantly longer to resolve. In some cases, it could be years before your family receives any sort of compensation. In general, most nursing home negligence settlements happen before the case gets close to trial. There is a high cost to take a case to trial, and there is no guarantee of the outcome. Settling beforehand can reduce legal expenses and costs while ensuring your family member isn’t waiting years for financial compensation. Your attorney will be the one who advises you on the best course of action and whether the proposed settlement is fair. Contact a Richmond Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer Today If you suspect someone in your family is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, don’t wait to get help. Contact Lantz & Robins, P.C., today to schedule an initial consultation. We have extensive experience handling nursing home lawsuit cases, and we can help you fight for the compensation your family member deserves.

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Types of Nursing Home Negligence in Virginia

Nursing home negligence care can take many forms. Residents can suffer abuse or neglect, both of which can lead to significant harm. Nursing home negligence can also lead to slip and fall accidents.  Nursing homes are not likely to admit their liability. This is why you need to retain a skilled Richmond nursing home negligence attorney. Types of Nursing Home Negligence Nursing home abuse and neglect are rampant problems in nursing homes all across the country. When a nursing home breaches its duty and provides care that results in residents suffering harm, they are negligent. Neglect and abuse are two distinct problems. Nursing home abuse takes one of four primary forms: Physical abuse, Emotional or mental abuse, Sexual abuse, or Financial abuse. Nursing home neglect points to a lack of interaction and care. A nursing home must provide its residents with basic necessities. Examples are food, water, safety, medical treatment, medications, and a clean environment. Neglect can lead to harm and significant injuries, such as those sustained in a slip and fall. Either abuse or neglect can support a negligence claim against the nursing home. Such a claim can be based on the nursing home’s direct actions or on the actions of its staff. Negligent hiring, training, and supervision are common causes of nursing home abuse and neglect. Slip and Falls in Nursing Homes in VA Around three million older people get treated in emergency rooms across the country for injuries related to a slip and fall every year. Nursing home falls in Richmond can point to negligence in many cases. Nursing homes are obligated to assess each resident. If someone has a notation that they are a fall risk, the resident should never be left alone when they are out of bed. The nursing home should be assisting with wheelchair transfers, monitoring the person while using the bathroom, etc. Nursing home falls in VA could result from a poorly trained staff member, lack of adequate staff to monitor residents, or even the lack of proper medical equipment that would’ve kept the resident safe. If you or a family member is in a nursing home and suffered injuries due to a fall, you could have a legal claim for damages. At Lantz & Robins, P.C., our Richmond personal injury lawyers have years of experience representing clients in medical malpractice and nursing home neglect and abuse cases. Let us evaluate your case and help you hold the nursing home accountable for their negligence. Nursing Home Defenses in Richmond, VA If you present a claim against the nursing home for negligence, you can expect that the facility will vigorously defend its position that there was no wrongdoing. These facilities usually have experienced legal counsel. They will attempt to intimidate you in hopes you drop your claim. That is why working with a skilled Richmond nursing home personal injury lawyer is essential. We already know all the tactics and potential defenses their lawyers will raise. Nursing homes will almost always claim that the resident contributed to their own injuries by getting out of bed without assistance, didn’t use their call button, or refused to wait for staff to arrive.  Contact a Richmond Nursing Home Personal Injury Lawyer Today Pursuing a nursing home negligence claim can be complicated. You need an attorney on your side with the skills and experience to hold the facility accountable. Our Richmond nursing home personal injury attorneys are here to help. With our extensive experience in personal injury, nursing home abuse, and medical malpractice claims, we can help you get the compensation you and your family deserve. To learn more about how we can help, contact Lantz & Robins, P.C., today.

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