New York has approximately 631 nursing homes, where the majority of residents are senior citizens. The New York Department of Health (DOH), under Governor Cuomo’s Administration, oversees the state’s nursing homes to make sure regulations are followed, and is the enforcement agency when it comes to violations.
Recently, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the results of the state audit. The DOH has not been consistently enforcing fines for nursing home violations, in some cases delaying for up to six years from the citation date to when the fine is imposed. Although DOH properly conducted surveys under federal law between January 2012 to September 2015, DOH failed in fully enforcing citations and collecting fines. The audit revealed that DOH did not assign enough employees to handle the violations, and could have made improvements in staffing to remedy the situation.
The concern over DOH failing in collecting most fines is that without enforcement, nursing homes will not be deterred from committing violations. It was found that DOH chose which fines to collect and which ones to ignore, and the categories of fines that comprise 85 percent of the issues observed were not categories where fines were strictly enforced. Nursing homes can see the pattern, and most likely will behave according to the possible consequences, or lack thereof. If collected fines do not amount to much, it is posited that the ones enforced will just be considered the cost of doing business.
Without deterrence, more violations are apt to occur. These issues directly affect the treatment that our loved ones receive. For more information about all of your legal options regarding nursing home violations and issues, contact an experienced attorney today who can advise you of your legal rights. Levine & Slavit, PLLC represents clients in pursuing claims arising out of nursing home negligence and abuse, fighting for your right to receive compensation. Contact (888) LAW-8088 for a consultation today.