The state of Texas has sued nursing homes over legal violations underscoring that families must vigilantly monitor care quality in Texas nursing homes.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in June 2014 that the Texas Attorney General’s Office has filed three nursing-home neglect lawsuits against long-term care facilities on behalf of DADS or the Department of Aging and Disability Services, the state agency charged with overseeing and licensing nursing homes and other long-term care facilities:

  • Against Oakwood Nursing and Rehabilitation in Arlington alleging many licensing violations, including improper care and treatment of bedsores, also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, including in one 31-year-old disabled patient whose bedsore led to a fatal infection
  • Against assisted-living facility Westchester Plaza in Fort Worth and its management company alleging several illegalities, including dangerous fire safety violations
  • Against Avalon’s The Willows Assisted Living Community in Fort Worth for allegedly failing to respond appropriately to a medical emergency that resulted in death

These lawsuits are not surprising considering the dismal conclusions of an independent appraisal of Texas long-term care services for seniors and people with disabilities, including nursing-home care quality, by AARP.

The AARP Scorecard

AARP, supported by with The Commonwealth Fund and The SCAN Foundation, issues each state a scorecard after investigating five “key dimensions” or aspects of care. New scorecards were issued in 2014. Overall, Texas came in 30th with significant variations in how it performed in the five dimensions:

Quality of life and quality of care: 49th place
Effective transitions: 47th place
Choice of setting and provider: 16th
Support for family caregivers: 11th
Affordability and access: 10th

For families and all Texans, scoring almost last among the states in quality of life and of care is very disturbing. Looking closer at some of the Texas findings within this dimension:

Texas ranked 39th in percent of high-risk nursing-home patients with bedsores.

Texas ranked last (50th) in two key issues: nursing-home staff turnover and percent of long-term nursing-home patients on antipsychotic medications, seen by some as a potential type of chemical restraint.

Advice for Texas families

The verdict is certainly in: many Texas nursing homes have room for improvement and some are even dangerous. Family members with loved ones who need nursing-home care must be vigilant in watching for signs of neglect or abuse, which can come in many forms like verbal, sexual, physical, emotional or financial. Some of the more common signs include:

  • Bruising, cuts and other injuries
  • Injury to personal areas of the body
  • Abrupt change in personality or alertness
  • Weight loss
  • Poor hygiene
  • Social withdrawal
  • Incontinence
  • Missing personal property or money
  • And more

Of course, a family member who finds an elderly loved one in an emergency situation should call emergency services or contact local welfare authorities immediately. If nursing-home neglect or abuse is suspected or has occurred, speaking with a skilled personal injury lawyer with nursing-home abuse experience will provide guidance and crucial information.

An attorney will launch an investigation into the situation on behalf of the victim and provide advice about how to protect the elder’s human and civil rights, including the potential filing of a personal injury, medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit.

Keywords: quality of care, Texas, nursing home, neglect, lawsuit, long-term care facility, DADS, Texas Attorney General, licensing violation, bedsore, assisted living, AARP Scorecard, abuse

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