Due to the efforts of ProPublica, an online journalism site, the government has released write-ups of problems found in nursing homes across the nation. The documents show that a facility in South Carolina has received the most fines. Unihealth Post-Acute Care of North Augusta, S.C., has been ordered to pay $737,000 for the last three years.

But this data may be misleading.

According to the statistics, consistent penalties are not given for similar errors in different states. Nursing homes in both South Carolina and Texas were cited for failures to maintain “the well-being of each resident” in the deaths of two patients. But while the South Carolina home was penalized more than $300,000, Texas received only a $9,500 fine for the same type of mistake.

Disproportionate Penalties are Not Unusual

ProPublica found that nursing homes in some states face higher fines than homes in other states for equivalent misconduct problems. Over the past three years, a nursing home in South Carolina has been fined an average of $40,507. But during the same time period, a facility in Texas faced an average fine of $6,933.

The fines are determined through the cooperation of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and state officials. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pays states to inspect nursing homes on its behalf. CMS provides guidelines on the penalty process. But the states are responsible for making recommendations to CMS representatives.

While all actions must be approved by CMS, the states’ suggestions are almost always enforced. Revenue from the fines are then shared by the federal government and individual states.

Standardized Penalty System in the Works

The federal government has the authority to fix this system. Its efforts could make fines more consistent for nursing homes throughout the country.

Based on ProPublica’s findings, officials are working to create more specific guidelines to oversee inspections. Although not every incident is the same and some flexibility is needed, a new program is in the works to standardize the fine system.

Learn More About South Carolina’s Nursing Home Inspections

ProPublica has created an online resource that shows the inspection reports for South Carolina nursing homes that have been cited for serious problems. The site is also searchable by keyword.

Need Legal Help?

The decision to move a loved one into a nursing home can be very traumatic for all involved, so it’s natural to feel betrayed if you discover that the nursing home has abused or neglected your family member. Our South Carolina nursing home abuse attorneys at Joye Law Firm understand how terrible it is to see a family member suffer at a nursing home and we’re ready to fight for your rights. If you or someone you love has been mistreated in a South Carolina nursing home, please contact us for a free consultation at 877-936-9707 to discuss the details of your nursing home abuse case or fill out our convenient online form today.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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