Proposed Virginia Law Would Allow Subpoenas of Nursing Home Records
In a nutshell, I'm all for this. One of the hardest things to see is the individual consideration of a lawsuit, and the high standards to reach to garner a class action against a facility. In a class action (at least in Washington), you have to meet certain requirements, including the injuries being similar (typicality). Because of how people come in, and their diversity of needs, you can rarely meet that threshold. This means that an insurance policy can effectively shield a place from going out of business, even if they have repeated violations. While civil lawsuits can ship away at an egregious violator, this tool allows a facility to be shut down by the agency controlling them if the agency finds a pattern. I'm all for it!
Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has proposed to enact legislation that would allow the Medicare and Medicaid and Elderly Abuse Unit to subpoena all records from nursing homes that are under investigation. This would allow investigators to determine if there is a pattern of abuse in the facility either from various staff members in the facility or from specific staff members. Cuccinelli stated the proposal for this legislation is being backed by the House Delegate Chris Peace and State Senator Ralph Smith.
On the surface, this potential legislation seems like a good idea because it would allow officials more power in investigating these types of incidents and possibly bringing justice for those that are victimized by an entire facility or specific employees. It would allow investigators to look into the entire history of the facility rather than be limited in their investigation. However, on the other side of the coin, it would be very easy for facility operators to hide this information simply by not reporting it or keeping a record of it. Therefore it could still be very easy for a facility to get away with seriously injuring or abusing residents at a nursing home. There are always several possibilities, both negative and positive, to these types of situations. It is important to look at both sides to determine what would be the best plan of action to assist nursing home residents in every way possible.
(Via The Guardian Blog.)