Proposal to Close Deficient Texas Nursing Homes Sparks Debate
Last month, at a hearing held to evaluate the Sunset Advisory Commission, Texas State Sen. Charles Schwertner, who is both a medical doctor and chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, took the time to point out that seven nursing homes licensed by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services have been found to be in repeated violation of federal standards for such facilities.
Based on state inspection records, each of those seven nursing homes has a record that includes at least three serious incidents in which residents of the facility were in “immediate jeopardy” of either injury or death. Moreover, all of these incidents occurred within the last 24 months In one case, in this past March, a woman with an untreated urinary tract infection went into septic shock at one of the facilities, and federal authorities found that no one at the facility had even attempted to remove the woman’s catheter even though it was determined hat the catheter was the cause of the infection.
In response, Schwertner has proposed a “three-strikes” rule for such nursing home. Under his proposal, any nursing home in the state that violates serious federal standards at three different times over the course of 24 months would not have its license renewed, and would have to shut down. He plans to bring up his proposal during the 2015 session of the Texas Legislature, where it promises to be a strongly debated from several sides.
The nursing home industry was quick to respond, noting that the state already has a significant level of power when it comes to regulating nursing homes. Some, including many facilities that wouldn’t even face a threat of closure at this point referred to the proposal as excessively punitive. They pointed to the subjective nature of many inspections, and suggested that some inspectors might purposely try to put them out of business.
To that, Schwertner noted that he had only been able to identify seven out of the 1200 licensed nursing homes in the state, so he feels that such criticism is unfounded and that his proposal will not have a widespread effect. AARP Texas has also expressed approval of the new law, as well as other measures that would put deficient nursing homes on notice regarding license renewal. The Sunset Advisory Commission approved of the three strikes rule unanimously, although the measure will have to be passed by the Texas Legislature and signed by the governor before it takes effect.
The Department of Aging and Disability Services can already shut down any nursing home would like, simply by refusing to renew its license, yet in 2013 the agency failed to block any license renewals for nursing homes. If this law passes, the Department would have no choice but to refuse a license renewal to any nursing home that repeatedly failed to meet the standards set by the federal government.
A nursing home should be a place of comfort and good medical care, and its patients and their families have a right to expect that a home will meet and exceed federal standards. The state should be doing more to make sure that nursing homes beat the standards expected of them, or not be allowed to operate. if a loved one has been injured, become sick or even died as a result of what you believe was negligent care as a nursing home or other assisted care facility, please contact the Nursing Home Lawyers at Hill Law Firm today for a free consultation, so that we can help you protect your family’s rights under the law.