America’s veterans age just like the rest of the general population — and many of them end up in nursing homes run by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Many of these nursing homes are providing care that is substandard, at best — outright horrible at worst.
This claim isn’t just supposition. It’s the conclusion coming from the VA itself, based on the results of inspection reports that have been made public for the first time. The reports essentially show that the problems with patient care that exist in privately run nursing homes also exist in nursing homes for veterans.
The decision to publicize the findings didn’t happen randomly. The Globe and USA TODAY have been jointly pushing for information for almost a year.
Among the inspection findings found after visiting a total of 99 VA nursing homes:
- 52 of those facilities had deficiencies that had caused actual harm to patients
- 26 facilities let veterans suffer from bedsores because of inadequate care
- 11 facilities had veterans in “immediate jeopardy” of their safety
Only seven nursing homes of those inspected across 25 states passed inspection without deficiencies. That’s abysmal.
Some of the incidents reported by inspectors are outright shocking. For example:
- Water temperatures were being kept at 128 degrees — which could easily scald residents with dementia or sensory issues.
- A resident with dementia was being allowed to go outside in a wheelchair to smoke — despite being too frail to properly hold the cigarette.
- An untrained aide was so lax in his care of one Ohio veteran that the inspectors found the patient eating pieces of Styrofoam from a food container instead of the food.
Many patients suffered from generally inadequate care, including bruises from falls, broken bones, urinary tract infections and bed sores. Other suffered in pain without their medication or without basic treatment for their injuries or medical problems.
None of this is acceptable. Nursing home neglect is a serious problem, and people have a right to be angry when their loved ones are poorly treated, abused or injured. If it has happened to your loved one, it may be time to talk about your legal options.