ACHCA pushes back on liability for individual nursing home admins

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The American College of Health Care Administrators has issued a firm policy statement that says that although nursing homes should be held accountable for certain misdeeds, individual nursing home administrators should not be held criminally, professional or personally liable for the actions of others.

“ACHCA does not now, nor will it ever, support the concept of strict liability for the individual nursing home administrator,” it said in a statement following the board's adoption of the policy on July 13. “It is our position that the administrator is well-regulated and held accountable for the performance of their duties. We do not believe any additional liability should be imposed on these professionals.”

The position went on to note that a nursing home administrator is the “CEO” of the building but does not provide direct care of medical services.

“The training of the administrator is not clinical. They do not dispense medications; they do not tend to the sick; they do not change bandages,” the statement reads. “The administrator makes sure that qualified staff is hired to provide these services. Holding the administrator personally and individually liable for the actions of others in a field that they do not practice is unacceptable.”

ACHCA's committee to draft a policy followed a handful of states, Connecticut most recently, attempting to pass a law that would let a nursing home administrator be held criminally liable, said ACHCA board chairman Steve Fromm.He credited the state ACHCA chapter with defeating the measure but said it was time to make the national organization's policy clear.

“Hopefully, as different states considering passing [something similar], if they are looking for general view from the profession, they'll ask questions before trying to pass a law that doesn't make sense,” he told McKnight's. “The administrators want the same consideration of administrators in other roles, which is that we are held liable for what we personally do but not for what others personally do.”

ACHCA said it believes strict liability would create a crisis in long-term care.

“No one should fear losing their home, their license or their freedom because of someone else's mistake at work,” ACHCA's statement reads. ACHCA's position is that Nursing Home Administrators should be supported, not punished.”

To read the complete statement, click on the download link above, or click here.