Department of Justice Launches a National Nursing Home Initiative

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

On March 3, 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced “the launch of the Department of Justice’s National Nursing Home Initiative, which will coordinate and enhance civil and criminal efforts to pursue nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care to their residents.”   The Press Release provides information on this initiative, including these items that I’ve excerpted:

  • This initiative is focusing on some of the worst nursing homes around the country and the Department already has initiated investigations into approximately thirty individual nursing facilities in nine states as part of this effort.
  • The department (DOJ) looks for nursing homes that consistently fail to provide adequate nursing staff to care for their residents, fail to adhere to basic protocols of hygiene and infection control, fail to provide their residents with enough food to eat so that they become emaciated and weak, withhold pain medication, or use physical or chemical restraints to restrain or otherwise sedate their residents. These care failures cause residents to suffer in pain and to be exposed to the great indignities.  Care failures cause residents to develop pressure sores down to the bone, to lie in their own waste for hours, to starve because they cannot reach the food on their trays and to remain unwashed for weeks at a time.  Nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care also force vulnerable elderly residents who cannot leave the facilities to live in filthy and dangerous conditions where there are leaks in the roofs, mold is found growing and rodents found living in residents’ rooms.  These are some of the actions and the inactions that the department intends to pursue.
  • “Through this National Initiative, we will more effectively and quickly pursue nursing homes that are jeopardizing the health and well-being of their residents.”
  • The Initiative and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices also support the efforts of state and local prosecutors, law enforcement, and other elder justice professionals to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation, with the development of training, resources, and information.

After reviewing the Press Release, I encourage you to check out these additional pieces of information:

  • Attorney General William P. Barr’s remarks in Tampa, FL on March 3rd to announce the results of the Department of Justice’s 2020 Elder Fraud Sweep and New Nursing Home Initiative.
  • Elder Justice Initiative (EJI). “The mission of the Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the Department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s seniors.”

You can also sign-up for email updates from DOJ to stay on top of what’s happening with this and other initiatives.