Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced settlements with seven nursing homes over systemic failures that led to five residents’ deaths and several injuries.  The failures identified by Healey’s office include allegations of staff ignoring serious injuries that led to two residents bleeding to death. They also include a fatal medication error, failure to treat residents with histories of substance abuse, and allowing a resident with a history of wandering to escape from a locked, supposedly secure unit.

Healey’s office said it weighed the evidence and determined civil enforcement was the best way to improve safety and quality in these nursing homes.  The settlements impose fines on the nursing homes ranging from $30,000 to $200,000. Five of them will be required to upgrade staff training and policies, conduct annual audits of their progress, and report that progress to the attorney general’s office for three years.

One company, Synergy Health Centers, has been banned from operating any taxpayer-funded nursing homes in Massachusetts for seven years.  Synergy is a troubled New Jersey company that started buying Massachusetts nursing homes in 2012 and quickly ran into problems with serious patient injuries as it bought 10 more facilities.

Candi Hitchcock, whose mother, Betsy Crane, died in one of the cases, said she is still grieving her mother’s horrific death. Crane, a resident at Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center, fell at least 19 times because staff failed to adequately intervene. She died after the 20th fall. “She was my best friend, and our family had to watch her bleed out from head trauma over 10 days and die an unnecessarily painful death,” Hitchcock said.

Hitchcock said she discovered her mother bleeding from her head hours after that fall in late July 2015. Hitchcock said she pleaded with nurses for help, and eventually one applied a Band-Aid. But the 89-year-old woman complained of not feeling well and staff eventually sent her to the hospital. By then it was too late. The internal bleeding was too great.

 

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