National HealthCare Corporation Lawsuits for NHC Nursing Home Negligence
Even the best nursing homes are fallible. Large nursing home chains like NHC can make mistakes. Unfortunately, when corporate run nursing homes commit error, the results can be deadly. This is why, historically, chains like National HealthCare Corporation (NHC) have faced nursing home negligence lawsuits in the past.
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A Focus on Money Can Lead to Neglecting Patient Care
According to multiple government investigations, properly staffed homes, where care comes before the bottom line, will almost always deliver better health and wellbeing outcomes when compared to profit-focused facilities. This is backed statistically, where many of the best nursing homes in the country are run by non-profits.
It might surprise you that there are nursing homes being run with a focus on profits, and not on residents. The reality is that only a minority of nursing homes throughout the US are run by non-profit organizations; the rest are for profit.
When profits are the end goal, nursing homes commonly cut corners with their expenses, especially with staffing, which leads to poor care for the residents. This is dangerous, as staffing is vital for a well-run nursing home. When a nursing home’s staff-to-resident ratio is poor, abuse and neglect within the home can fester.
National HealthCare Corporation, also known as NHC, and the many homes they run are no exception. NHC is most definitely a for-profit nursing home chain. The company provides better care than most other chains. However, NHC nursing homes have been sued in lawsuits alleging nursing home negligence in the past.
If your loved one was wrongfully injured or killed inside a nursing home, call our nursing home abuse attorneys today at 888-375-9998, or live chat with our office today using the chat feature on this page.
Who Is National HealthCare Corporation? Statistics and Facts on the Nursing Home Corporate Giant
NHC, otherwise known as National HealthCare Corporation, is one of the largest nursing home chains in the United States, with over 100 facilities, which includes 75 nursing homes and 24 assisted living facilities. Within the facilities, there are 13,432 full- and part-time employees as of December 31, 2020. NHC operates in ten states on the eastern half of the United States, with their western-most location in Missouri.
The corporation reported nearly $1 billion in annual revenue and took home around $59 million in profits. The publicly traded corporation has been profitable for its shareholders, as the stock has nearly doubled in the last ten years and grown nearly ten times in price over the previous twenty years. Because they are a publicly traded company, National HealthCare Corporation provides an annual report that covers all avenues of revenue and future plans for maximizing profits.
NHC is Most Definitely in the Business of Operating Nursing Homes
On the corporation’s website, they note in their section for investor relations that their goal is to provide services that are “designed to maximize the wellbeing and independence of patients” and are dedicated to ensuring that their patients’ needs are met with “cost-effective health care services.” In their breakdown of revenues, noted in their annual report, the company shows that Medicare and Medicaid accounted for 64% of their revenue. Medicare typically does not cover long-term care, but they will cover medical costs while in a nursing home for short term rehab. For NHC homes to be relying on Medicare, they also have to count on patients who qualify to use Medicare at their homes. They do so by attracting patients who can pay for rehabilitative programs and post-acute care services, which they state in their annual report.
The corporation also mentions in their annual report that the “increasing costs of being publicly owned are likely to impact… [the] results of our operation.” They also state that the trend in the industry towards “value-based purchasing” could hurt their revenues.
Indicators of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect at an NHC Nursing Home
If you believe your loved one is being neglected inside a long term care facility, get medical help immediately. If you do not trust the caretakers in the facility, call a non-emergency transport and have them checked out at the local hospital.
Indicators of nursing home negligence include the following injuries:
- Bed sores
- Brain bleeds
- Serious weight loss
- Medication mistakes
- Physical attacks
- Sexual assault
- Wrongful death
If, unfortunately, it is too late and your loved one passed away, attempt to request their medical records from their recent hospitalization or nursing home residency.
Regardless of whether they remain alive or have passed on, consult with a nursing home abuse attorney if you suspect negligence played a part in their injury. Senior Justice Law Firm provides completely free case consultations, and we work on a contingency fee basis, so there are no out of pocket payments for fees or costs.
Senior Justice Law Firm Can Help
Have you or a loved one suffered preventable harm inside a nursing home? Has a facility’s lack of adequate resident attention enabled abuse or neglect? You might feel overwhelmed by your situation and wonder what you should do next, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. With Senior Justice Law Firm, you will have someone by your side every step of the way to offer guidance, counsel and to litigate your matter in the goal of delivering justice to you and your family.
Nursing home residents have guaranteed rights, which includes being free from abuse and neglect. Nursing homes that enable abuse and negligence are violating their patients’ rights and should be held accountable.
Some families feel it is easier to try to move on from the abuse and neglect a loved one has experienced. Other families feel that that holding the nursing home that wronged you accountable not only helps you, but also helps other future residents. This is ultimately a family decision. However, if you want to take steps to prevent the nursing home from allowing this to happen again, your family should consult with our law firm.
Our caring, compassionate and experienced nursing home abuse attorneys are narrowly focused on this specific practice area. We are here to help.
Legal Citations and Lawsuits Against NHC Nursing Facilities
Certain NHC nursing homes have frequently been rated poorly in annual inspections. In the 2017 annual report, the company revealed that they had received 60 NHC nursing home lawsuits in that year alone. They did not disclose the number of lawsuits received in 2020, although they did point out that they expect a certain bulk of litigation every year.
Additionally, NHC’s quality of care has often been called into question. In 2000, a lawsuit against National HealthCare Corporation claimed that the company failed to provide basic care, thanks in large part to their continual record of poor staffing. In 2003, a fire killed 11 people at an NHC nursing home in Nashville, Tennessee.
While NHC homes are not reviewed cumulatively, we can look at individual homes. The NHC location in St. Charles, Missouri has a two-star rating on Medicare’s website, with poor staffing and health inspections dragging their rating down. Medicare’s website also shows that the location has been fined twice in the past three years for a total of roughly $110,000.
Lawsuits Against National HealthCare Corporation Nursing Homes
You might feel alone in pursuing a case against a large nursing home chain like NHC. However, many families affected by this type of nursing home behavior have filed lawsuits against NHC for nursing home abuse or neglect. Additionally, NHC facilities have been cited by state agencies for violations and deficiencies.
For example, since 2000, NHC’s four facilities in Missouri have been fined 12 times and have been forced to pay almost $850,000 in fines. All but one of those long-term care facilities in Missouri were rated as one-star nursing homes in their inspections regarding their offered care. They have also paid $27 million for improperly using Medicare in their billing in the past twenty years. Despite the substantial payouts, their most recent annual report still states that they aggressively pursue ways to qualify for Medicaid dollars. They note that they have to maneuver through “a highly regulated industry” while admitting to their dependency on Medicaid and Medicare to carry their revenue.
A jury in Warren County awarded a plaintiff that sued National Healthcare Corp. for nursing home abuse a whopping $29.8 million in punitive damages. Parts of this award was later set aside and reversed, however, the jury verdict against an NHC nursing home shows the potential animosity a jury may have against a nursing home in this context.
In the Canavan case against NHC for nursing home abuse, a Pinellas County jury awarded the estate of the deceased actual damages of $500,000 and punitive damages of $250,000.
The corporation also was involved in a larger effort to cap non-economic damages in two states (Florida and Tennessee) so they would avoid exorbitant payouts in the event that they were found liable for injury or wrongful death. While the Florida effort failed, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld a $750,000 statutory cap on non-economic damages in civil suits. While the Tennessee case that was challenged in the Supreme Court was not related to NHC, the Supreme Court did cite a previous case (Smartt v. NHC Healthcare/McMinnville, LLC) within their decision to allow for a cap.
Smartt vs. NHC
Smartt v. NHC Healthcare was a case filed in 2009 that alleged “general negligence and medical malpractice claims” against the NHC McMinnville location, and also blamed the nursing home for the death of the plaintiff’s father, who was a resident in the facility at the time. The plaintiff, Christine Smartt, noted that her father had suffered many injuries, from pressure ulcers to multiple fractures and infections, and died in the nursing home’s care. The jury ruled in favor of Smartt, who was awarded over $4 million in compensatory damages, though the nursing home was ruled as not liable for the death of the plaintiff’s father. NHC was also saddled with almost $1.2 million in punitive damages.
Other Lawsuits and Legal Issues Involving NHC Nursing Homes for Negligence and Abuse
While the recent public health challenges have brought unprecedented difficulties for everyone, NHC nursing homes have certainly not been an exception and have struggled to adjust to the crisis. Both residents and staff have been casualties in NHC’s inability to adjust to the health and safety needs of the facilities.
At the end of May 2020, an NHC facility in Franklin, Tennessee had recorded 7 of the 10 deaths in the county at the time. Thirty-six residents and employees from that facility had tested positive at the time of the reporting. In January of 2021, another NHC nursing home location in Knoxville reported 17 deaths in a span of a week. There were 63 total nursing home deaths in that time period on the eastern half of the state.
In August of 2020, a report stated that NHC Greenwood asked their employees to work, even when they posed a health risk to residents due to illness. NHC issued a facility-wide policy asking them to work and offering additional pay if they did. “Negative patients are not treated by positive employees,” NHC said, according to an article by Index Journal, but they did not comment on the rising number of sick nurses and staff in the facility. The company cited inadequate staffing numbers as the reason for why they were trying to have sick employees return to work.
The Greenwood case is not the beginning of National HealthCare Corporation’s history of allegations involving lackluster employee protections. Kent v. NHC Healthcare, which was reviewed in February of 2021, upheld a previous ruling that forced NHC to pay permanent partial disability in the amount of $44,123.80 after Justin Kent, a former employee of NHC, sued the nursing home corporation following an injury in 2008. Although Kent was not a resident, the company still went through nearly thirteen years of legal battles before losing the case.
NHC has also allegedly struggled to fairly stipulate financial conditions towards non-profit nursing homes. In 2013, NHC, along with NHI (National Health Investors), were forced to pay $40 million to the state of Tennessee to be used for charitable purposes. Both NHI and NHC were in a dispute with two non-profits, and NHI and NHC were forced to settle. Both companies were being cited for unfair financial conditions towards non-profits that they were leasing from, stating that the two companies inflated the amount for homes that were struggling financially and then charged them management fees that were unfair.
*Each case is different. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome or indicate an expected outcome on your particular case. The above prior lawsuit information is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney. This individual case information above is publicly filed information gathered from the publicly filed complaint. This information and these cases are not the work of this law firm. The inspection results are provided from government agency surveys. The deficiencies listed on this page may have been corrected after the date of the inspection and date of publishing this material. The contents of this website should not be construed as legal advice on any specific fact or circumstance. Your receipt of such information does not create an attorney-client relationship with this law firm or any of its lawyers. You should not act or rely on any of the information contained herein without seeking professional legal advice. Speak with an attorney immediately if you believe you have a viable case against a nursing home, assisted living facility or medical facility.
What Should I Do if my Loved One Resides in a Nursing Home?
Certainly, NHC is not the worst nursing home chain. In fact, overall, the company’s ratings are above average. The issues that arise within the company speak to a larger problem we have in our long-term care system. For that reason, no one wants to put their parent in a nursing home. However, because of health issues and the need for round the clock care and rehabilitation, it might be difficult to circumvent a nursing home entirely. If this is your experience, there are still ways to ensure that you or your loved one’s care does not suffer:
- Be aware of signs of nursing home abuse or neglect.
- Know your rights. These depend on the state that you live in, but Medicare.gov has a more extensive list. Here are a few rights you need to know that you are entitled to:
- Respectful treatment
- Freedom from resident abuse and neglect
- Proper medical treatment
- Discrimination and an abuse-free experience
- Freedom from unlawful restraints
- Contact an attorney if you feel like any of your rights have been violated.
In the unfortunate event that you have been a victim of poor care in a nursing home, contacting a legal representative will ensure that your voice does not go unheard. Opening a claim can seem like a frightening task, but with the right lawyers by your side, you will be protected, and you will be able to make sure nursing homes are kept accountable for their care.
Relocating from One Nursing Home to Another Nursing Home
The care compare tool that Medicare offers is also perfect for comparing different nursing homes in your area. Medicare allows you to view how they rank nursing homes, whether the facilities in your area have been red flagged for nursing home abuse, and whether they are owned by a corporation or are non-profits. This tool is not the end all be all, but it is a great starting point for researching nursing homes.
When looking for long term care facilities, remember that homes that do not prioritize profits will often be willing to have smaller facilities. Many of these facilities are not-for-profits. These unconventional homes allow for staff to better care for their residents. While it can be tempting to choose the nursing home closest to your family, the care compare tool searches for nursing homes that are within a 25 mile radius, meaning that sometimes the best nursing home for you is just a few more streets down.
Reach Out to a Lawyer Who Can Assist You in Suing a NHC Nursing Home
If you or a loved one has been a victim of abuse or neglect at an NHC nursing home, and you would like a complimentary legal opinion, contact our firm today.
At Senior Justice Law Firm, we are familiar with the unique challenges that come with cases of elder abuse litigation. Our attorneys would be happy to speak with you for free during a consultation. We work entirely on contingency fee, so there are not out of pocket fees or costs to retain our firm.
We are available at 888-375-9998 or via our online chat tool. You may also use our online form to reach out at any time, day or night.