Two mandatory reporting bills have been introduced in the Pennsylvania House as part of a “Promise of Care” legislative package designed to protect residents and increase transparency. House Bills 1713 and 1714 would require nursing homes to report all resident deaths to the county coroner.
As representatives told Mcknight’s Long-Term News, the current reporting system in the event of a “suspicious” death leads to “subjective decision-making in determining deaths to report that may have actually been a result of inadequate care.” This is consistent with the narrative presented by the representatives that the mandatory reporting bills would increase pressure on negligent nursing homes that may harm residents.
In many ways, the mandatory reporting bills are designed to catch wrongful deaths from negligent care centers. However, there are some vocal opponents such as Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. Mr. Shamberg said of the mandatory reporting bills that they “assume the worst” of nursing homes. Additionally, he stated that if the bills were to pass then legislation should also be made to target home health centers, hospitals, hospice care facilities and any other facility who provide long-term care. Ultimately, Mr. Shamberg dismisses the mandatory reporting bills “reeking” of a “plaintiff’s bar” and the desire of law firms and plaintiffs to “find more and more avenues to litigate against Pennsylvania’s hardworking nursing home providers and staff.”
While nursing home corporations would like to claim that the efforts presented by the mandatory reporting bills are a mere witch hunt among hard-working individuals, the recent Special Focus Facility list of severely neglectful and underperforming nursing homes lists Pennsylvania 25 times. Out of 400 candidates from 50 states plus Puerto Rico, it does seem like Pennsylvania’s nursing home residents could benefit from the mandatory reporting bills and increased efforts to designate responsibility and accountability to nursing homes caring for residents.
Whether these efforts will succeed is something that can only be speculated on. The bills have been presented before the Pennsylvania house and they are now being debated and explored. If they pass, it will be a big win for advocates for the safety and fair treatment of nursing home residents.
For more information about wrongful deaths from neglect or poor treatment, visit the National Association of Nursing Home Abuse’s Wrongful Death Page.