Nursing homes have a high duty to meet the safety and health needs of their residents. This principle was recently upheld in separate cases in New York (NY) and Missouri (MO).

In the New York case, a family won a $19 million jury verdict against the company that operated the Brooklyn Queens Nursing Home in New York City. The family’s grandfather died after developing nearly two dozen bed sores that became infected. One reason the verdict against the New York City company was so high is because evidence came to light during trial that staff at the elder care facility had falsified records to conceal instances of failure to provide proper care.

The problems that compelled a Texas-based operator of nursing homes in numerous states to reach a $1 million settlement with the U.S. government were no less shocking. According to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, residents at Cathedral Rock Corp. homes in Missouri, Illinois (IL), Ohio (OH) and South Carolina (SC), “Some residents suffered from bed sores. Others wandered away. One ended up on a roof. One was found days later. One died after falling from a window.”

Some of the homes involved in the Missouri case also falsified patient records.

Poor or negligent care in nursing care can range from over- or undermedication to lack of supervision and the provision of inappropriate treatments. While no elder care facility or staff member can be 100 percent perfect all the time, they must do everything they can to make sure nursing home residents do not suffer from unsafe practices or environments. I am pleased to note that the New York jury and federal regulators recognized this and acted accordingly.