A recent California jury verdict in a quasi-class action suit against the owner of 22 nursing homes in that state awarded 32,000 plaintiffs a total of $677 million in damages. Skilled Healthcare Group is a one of the country’s largest publicly traded long-term care companies, and posted year ending gross profits in 2009 of $133,015,000; it expects 2010 revenues to be between $795 and 805 million. Despite the sizeable revenues that company is claiming to be earning, a California Court has held them liable for injury caused by their failure to adequately staff their healthcare facilities.
The complaint in that case alleged residents of Skilled Healthcare’s nursing homes suffered neglect, "insults and indignities," among other things. There has been accellerated population growth in long-term care facilities over the last decade, which has been met with an abundance of problems like those complained of in the Skilled Healthcare case. Those complaints can usually be traced back to inadequate staffing, which is regulated by state law. Where states fail to write and/or enforce adequate regulations, abuse and neglect becomes endemic, and can be perpetuated by the for-profit nature of some facilities.
Luckliy, despite lax or unenforced industry regulations, preventative measures abound. There are numerous questions family and friends of residents can ask before choosing a facility. There are numerous avenues of reporting or complaining of neglect and abuse, and notifying the responsible parties of injuries. There are also numerous ways to hold a coporation accountable for their abuse of the elderly in the name of profit, and enforce residents’ rights.