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Nursing home neglect lawsuit: Greed is not good, patients suffer

The 10th largest nursing home chain in the U.S. is under fire in a federal lawsuit filed by the New Mexico Attorney General's office. The complaint takes the unusual approach -- one that the attorney general hopes will be easier to prove -- that the organization itself, rather than the workers, is responsible for lapses in patient care.

The defendant, Preferred Care Partners Management Group L.P., operates more than 100 nursing facilities in 12 states -- New York is not among them -- according to a LinkedIn profile. The facilities provide skilled nursing care and assisted and independent living services, including facilities serving patients with developmental disabilities. Each care facility is operated by a private partnership; Preferred Care manages those partnerships, not the individual homes.

The lawsuit focuses on seven facilities, claiming that the defendant deliberately understaffed them. In order to increase profits, the complaint says, the company knowingly put their patients' physical well-being at risk. If the attorney general can prove this, the company will be in violation of Medicare and Medicaid rules. (Nursing facilities are required to provide adequate care if they accept funds from state and federal programs.)

The complaint was filed within days of a trial involving another multi-state nursing home chain. Family members of patients that died in that company's facilities had sued for neglect and wrongful death; juries had slapped the chain with $2 billion in damages. The plaintiffs are still waiting for those payments and are pursuing the company's officers, claiming fraud and other misconduct.

The underlying wrongful death lawsuits in that collection action are more typical of claims brought against nursing homes. We'll explain in our next post.

Sources:

York Dispatch, "New Mexico sues nursing home chain on care, staff," Jeff Horwitz and Susan Montoya, Dec. 5, 2014

Bloomberg, "Nursing Home Neglect Trial Fights Shell Company Transfers," Margaret Cronin Fisk, Sept. 22, 2014

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