The growing number of Americans who are considered morbidly obese in recent decades has raised red flags across many industries. Whether blame is being directed at the fast food industry, or other sources, the responsibility for treating these individuals disproportionately falls with the healthcare industry. More specifically, as Americans continue to live longer and reach ages that our ancestors (obese or not) never could, healthcare institutions such as nursing homes and long term care facilities are beginning to feel the strain from this growing responsibility. One question that is being asked across the country as well as in Illinois is “how are nursing home facilities (and other healthcare providers) supposed to provide quality care for individuals who require an increased level of care, when their resources are consistently subject to budget cuts and losses?”
Nursing Home Negligence Knows No Budget
Unfortunately for many nursing homes and their patients, the law surrounding nursing home negligence does not contain the defense of “insufficient funds to provide care.” Illinois law defines neglect as “a facility’s failure to provide…adequate medical care…or assistance with activities of daily living that is necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness of a resident.” While it may be possible for a facility to attempt to limit its liability for neglect by outlining specific services that it will provide to the resident in a contract, these contracts often come under fire in the courts if they are seen as too one-sided. Further, even if a contract between a patient and a facility states that the facility must only provide services that are “reasonably necessary,” this may still allow for negligence actions if the lack of care offered does not provide the resident with basic care.
It does not take a legal scholar to understand that when nursing homes, hospitals and healthcare facilities are not provided sufficient funds to operate safely, their patients are the first to suffer. In the ever more common environment of “do more with less,” legislatures across the country have tightened their belts by slashing public funding to programs such as Medicaid, which are a primary funding source for healthcare facilities. Many facilities are finding that without adequate funding, they cannot afford to retain high-quality employees or provide top-notch care for their patients. In a modern day catch-22, these facilities must still find a way to meet their obligations to those entrusted to their care, or face charges of negligence in court.
Given the growing budgetary problems that often plague the healthcare industry, what will happen to the growing number of baby boomers who are aging and will need their services in the coming decades? This is a question that will likely be asked many times and there is no one answer. What is known, however, is that healthcare facilities that are feeling overwhelmed by budget or staffing issues need to also understand that they cannot skirt the law by shifting the blame. If a facility does not have the capability of providing the correct level of care to its patients (both current and future), then it should immediately address the issue before someone is injured by their negligence.
Attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. in Antioch are here to answer any of your questions about nursing home negligence cases and has the experience to get your family results. Do not allow a loved one to suffer in silence. Call today and speak to an attorney about your rights under Illinois law.