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Low Fines for Nursing Home Violations End Up Hurting Patients

Generally speaking, monetary fines are issued to businesses or people to penalize them for violating the law and to encourage compliance with the law. But when fines are ridiculously low, they serve neither as a penalty nor a deterrent.

In many states, fines for nursing home violations or negligent care are extremely low and often are not in line with the severity of the facility's actions. In Connecticut, for example, the state health department issued the following fines:

  • Fine for $510 against a facility for improperly transferring a patient with a Hoyer lift and injuring the patient during the transfer
  • A fine of $600 against a facility that did not give the proper medications to 15 patients for over a year
  • Another fine for $650 against a facility where a patient who was not supposed to receive solid food choked to death on marshmallows
  • Finally, a fine of $815 against a facility that improperly transferred two patients and allowed two other patients to suffer drastic weight loss

Given these types of low fines, it is not surprising that nursing facilities do not take the fines seriously. Indeed, many consider them merely the cost of doing business. The fines would serve as a greater deterrent if they were higher and accumulated with the severity of the nursing home violations.

States could learn a lot from the National Basketball Association about how to levy fines effectively. The NBA has recently levied heavy fines ranging from $25,000 to $500,000 against its players and owners for various actions. Players have been fined for failing to show up for All-Star appearances, posting inappropriate pictures on Twitter and making questionable gestures towards the crowd.

Because of the severity and swiftness of the NBA's fines, players and owners take heed and are examples to others of what not to do. Imagine if state health departments acted with such severity for nursing home violations. Nursing homes would act more responsibly, and patient care would be greatly improved.

Source: Nursinghomesbuseblog.com,"Inadequate Nursing Home Fines: Officials Need A Lesson From The NBA," Jonathan Rosenfeld, May 7, 2012

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