Will TX pass ‘three strikes’ bill to punish negligent nursing homes?

When many people in Bryan entrust the care of their elderly loved ones to nursing homes, they worry about the possibility of neglect or abuse. Even when family members research a care facility and pay close attention to the health and well-being of the loved one staying in the facility, abuse may still occur. However, Texas lawmakers may reduce the risk that elderly state residents will be exposed to abuse with a new bill to increase the potential sanctions for nursing home neglect or abuse.

Targeting the worst violations

The bill proposes to amplify punishments for the nursing homes with the worst violations. According to The New York Times, if the bill became law, the state would be obligated to close nursing homes that have been cited for the worst violations on three different days over a two-year period. As an example, the senator who introduced the bill cited seven nursing homes that had three separate days in which violations that put residents in "immediate jeopardy" were reported. These facilities would close under the bill.

Critics worry this measure could punish facilities that are correcting mistakes or showing performance improvements. Some people also worry about displacing elderly residents, who may have trouble finding places at other nursing homes. However, proponents contend that the law will only affect nursing homes with repeated problems and that the state agency overseeing nursing homes can assist in relocating residents.

If the bill is passed, it won't eliminate every instance of elder abuse; however, it could punish the most egregious cases while giving other care facilities stronger incentive to provide higher-quality care.

Surprising scope of elder abuse

Elder abuse is a more common problem than many Texans may realize. The Administration on Aging reports the following alarming figures:

  • One study reports that 95 percent of nursing home residents have been affected by neglect, either by directly experiencing it or by witnessing the neglect of other residents.
  • The same study found that 44 percent of nursing home residents report experiencing direct abuse.
  • Another study estimates that 13 out of 14 cases of elder abuse go undetected.

These statistics suggest that stronger sanctions for nursing home neglect and abuse may be necessary to protect nursing homes residents. Still, if the new bill passes, resulting in better oversight of Texas nursing homes, some cases of maltreatment and personal injury may still occur.

Anyone who knows a loved one who has suffered from elder abuse should consider speaking with a personal injury attorney. An attorney can provide advice on seeking compensation to address the injuries and any other losses resulting from the abuse.