Report: Troubling inspections at New Mexico nursing homes

Despite years of troubling inspections, several New Mexico nursing home facilities are still operating.

There are laws in New Mexico and at the federal level that determine the standards by which nursing homes should operate. For example, as the New Mexico Department of Health points out, any facility that participates in Medicaid and Medicare programs must meet certain requirements or else face the consequences.

It is a sad truth that too many nursing homes stray from those standards, even basic ones that ask that medical professionals provide appropriate care for residents. As a recent report reveals, there are several such facilities in New Mexico that have come under fire for their mistreatment and neglect.

Disturbing stories

According to a report from the Santa Fe New Mexican, over the past 15 years, state inspectors have found significant issues with two sister facilities, the Santa Fe Care Center and Casa Real. Those include the following:

  • Failing to monitor a patient, resulting in a painful condition due to a blocked catheter
  • Medication errors
  • Injuries and assaults that went unreported
  • Expired medications and food

The New Mexican states that both have been fined. Casa Real faced a wrongful death lawsuit following the 2010 death of a resident. That claim was settled out of court.

Limited options

Both homes accept payments through Medicaid and Medicare. In fact, the New Mexican reports that they are the only facilities in the area that do so, which paints a troubling picture for residents who rely on those programs. The other option is to pay for private nursing home care, which is often out of reach for people who live on limited means.

Recognizing and reporting abuse and neglect

Neglect and abuse could happen in any nursing home. It could be that a staff member physically harms a patient, or that the staff simply ignores a resident. Bedsores, bruises, sudden weight loss and significant changes in someone's behavior are all symptoms of wrongdoing. A resident may seem fearful of a caregiver, or he or she may appear withdrawn from activities he or she used to enjoy.

Abuse comes in many forms, and it should never be tolerated or unreported. The New Mexico Department of Health provides a toll-free phone number for people to call with reports of nursing home abuse. The health department investigates these claims and then takes appropriate action. That could mean finding a new facility for the patient, fining the nursing home or terminating certain employees.

In some cases, patients may have the right to file a claim against the facility. These lawsuits could result in damages to cover the cost of medical expenses, pain and suffering, rehabilitation and other tangible and emotional losses. Anyone who has a question about this topic should speak with a medical malpractice attorney in New Mexico.