Nursing Homes Negligent Installing Sprinkler Systems

Fires at Nursing Homes Reveal Negligence with Building Safety, No Sprinkler Systems

spinkler systemNursing homes have faced heavy criticism in recent years because employees can abuse or neglect residents at these facilities. Vulnerable older adults have been subjected to all types of nursing home abuse from medication neglect to sexual and physical abuse. As more families file lawsuits against these for-profit companies for abuse and wrongful death, the public has become more aware of what terrible situations senior residents can be subjected to.

Now, an investigation of hundreds of nursing homes across the country shows that many of these facilities are negligent even when it comes to basic building safety requirements – they do not have sprinkler systems installed.

According to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, as of August 2013 – a deadline for installing sprinkler systems in nursing homes across the US – 385 nursing homes in 39 states failed to meet these requirements. All together, these nursing homes had 52,000 residents who were put in grave danger because of the facilities’ negligence.

“That is intolerable in this day and age,” said Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care, which advocates for nursing home residents. “It’s not like they don’t have money to put these systems in. They have the money. They just choose not to do so.”

CMS stated that 97% of the offending facilities have updated or installed sprinkler systems, and added basic fire safety tools and resident evacuation plans.

“CMS and states are actively engaging with the rest of the facilities to verify their compliance with this regulation and will take appropriate actions for noncompliance to ensure the safety of residents,” the agency said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Shockingly, CMS did not require sprinkler systems in nursing homes until 2003, and then gave these facilities ten years to meet the requirement. In 2003, two huge blazes in Hartford, CT and Nashville, TN prompted the new regulation. The Connecticut fire led to the deaths of 16 residents, and 15 residents died in Tennessee.

Many nursing homes have hemmed and hawed about the regulation, stating that the cost of installing a sprinkler system is costly and complicated, especially for older buildings. Tom Burke, a spokesman for the American Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, said that although many facilities complained about the cost, ultimately most of the nursing homes understood the value of the safety systems.

“Its value as a safety and patient safety feature is undisputed,” he said.

Nursing Home Negligence: What it Looks Like and Who is Liable

Placing your loved one in a nursing home is difficult.  It is an emotionally and mentally draining decision. You trust that your loved one will be well taken care of and that patient care and proper treatment are cornerstones of the facility. When that promise, contract or the patient’s rights are violated, the nursing home should be held responsible for negligence.

Most states define neglect of an older person as the failure to provide him or her with services essential to health and safety, such as food, shelter, clothing, supervision, and medical care. Whether such failures are intentional, or simply careless, often will determine whether a case against a nursing home is framed as one for neglect or abuse.

A nursing home can be held liable for nursing home negligence if:

  1. the nursing home’s owner or employees breached a duty of care owed to the injured person;
  2. the person’s injury was caused by this breach; and,
  3. the nursing home owner’s or employee’s conduct caused the injury

The Strom Law Firm Defends Families Against Perpetrators of Nursing Home Negligence

If your loved one was injured or died as a result of nursing home negligence, contact the nursing home attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today. We offer free consultations to discuss your situation and to learn more about how we can put our experience to work for you. 803.252.4800

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