Publicly Traded Healthcare Services Provider Settles Class Action Lawsuit Involving Allegations of Understaffing
Last Month Kindred Healthcare, Inc. and its various facilities settled a class-action lawsuit for 8.25 million dollars. Kindred Healthcare is a publicly traded, fortune 500, company that operates hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living care facilities. Several of the facilities are located throughout California and the lawsuit was filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
The class plaintiffs were the residents of the facilities and families of the residents. The class plaintiffs alleged that Kindred Healthcare and its various skilled nursing facilities failed to comply with the medical staffing laws of California. Specifically, the class plaintiffs claimed that the facilities understaffed and failed to provide the required hours of direct “nursing hours per patient day”. Under California law, skilled nursing facilities must provide a minimum of 3.2 direct nursing hours per patient day. The federal guidelines recommend a minimum of 4.1 direct nursing hours per patient day.
The class plaintiffs claimed that as a result of the understaffing, the facilities failed to provide the quality of care they claimed they would provide. The class plaintiffs claimed that the facilities collected millions of dollars from patients and their families under the false belief that the facilities were complying with state law and would provide a quality of care consistent with those standards. The class plaintiffs also claimed that as a result of the understaffing, patients did not receive a high quality of care which led to various harms, dangerous conditions and resulting injuries. The lawsuit was advanced under the theory that the alleged actions of the facilities constituted unlawful, unfair and deceptive business practices.
Kindred Healthcare and its facilities denied the allegations and took the position that they would prove that their facilities complied with the law and were among the finest in the state. Nevertheless, Kindred and its facilities agreed to settle the matter by paying the class plaintiffs sliding scale payments up to 8.25 million dollars. Kindred and its facilities also agreed to a court placed order that would require them to consistently use staffing practices that would ensure compliance with the law.
Although there were no findings against the facilities or any admission that the facilities violated the law, it is not uncommon for medical providers and facilities to cut corners. Medical providers and medical facilities are for-profit businesses. The bottom line and profit margins matter. Lowering operating costs equals greater profits. One way to achieve lower operating costs is by paying employees less and reducing their hours.
The attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group, LLP have worked on these cases and have an understanding of what goes on behind the scenes. We are familiar with the shortcuts taken by these organizations and the resulting harm it can cause patients and families. If you or a loved one were a victim of nursing home neglect, medical malpractice or just plainly treated unfairly by a medical provider, contact an attorney at our firm for a free case consultation.