Legal, Scales of Justice

Providers are pushing back against an effort by the Department of Justice that would allow criminal charges to be brought against nursing home providers and staff members accused of abuse and fraud in civil cases. 

The DOJ is looking to identify criminal charges that can be added alongside civil actions against providers accused of abusing and defrauding elderly patients, Bloomberg Law reported. Criminal charges, for example, could include wire and healthcare fraud for cases involving alleged false claims, federal prosecutors said. 

“Criminalizing poor quality is not the answer,” the American Health Care Association said in a statement criticizing the effort. 

“Abuse, neglect, and fraud have no place in the nursing home setting or in any healthcare setting. While even one report of this is one too many, the facts show that such instances are rare and the overwhelming majority of nursing home staff provide high-quality resident care,” said David Gifford, MD, senior vice president of quality and regulatory affairs and chief medical officer for AHCA. 

“However, if poor quality of care begins to be labeled as neglect and fraud, respected groups, including the Institute of Medicine, would not recommend a criminal approach to correcting the problem.”

The effort is part of a push to “amplify” the work of the DOJ’s Elder Justice Initiative, the report stated. The initiative is aimed at combating elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors.