Last week, House Speaker John Boehner appointed Stephen L. Guillard to serve on the new 15 member Commission on Long Term Care. As an attorney who represents victims of nursing home neglect, I am concerned about this appointment. Mr. Guillard is the retired Chief Operating Officer of HCR Manor Care, the nation’s largest operator of nursing home and long-term care facilities. Manor Care has a less than stellar track record, as evidenced by a recent West Virginia jury verdict. In the West Virginia lawsuit, the jury found that Manor Care was negligent in the death of Dorothy Douglas who died as a result of malnutrition and dehydration. The jury awarded Ms. Douglas’ family a stunning $91.5 million dollar verdict.
Unfortunately, nursing home residents frequently suffer from dehydration or malnutrition. The nursing home is negligent if the dehydration and malnutrition is caused by the staff’s failure to provide sufficient food and fluid or monitor the intake of residents. A nursing home’s failure to keep adequate records and to assess a resident’s dietary needs can lead to severe or life-threatening nursing home injuries. The West Virginia jury’s huge verdict against Guillard’s Manor Care certainly indicates that the nursing home totally failed to meet the required standards to care for Ms. Douglas.
The statement released by Mr. Guillard after his appointment suggests that he may use this appointment to protect the nursing homes, even when they are guilty of neglect, malpractice, or abuse. He stated “I am honored to serve on this new Commission as we seek to develop new, creative approaches to ensure that quality care and services are available to meet the total needs of our elderly while eliminating the significant systemic problems in our financing and payment systems.” The focus on systemic financing problems may be political double-speak for eliminating or limiting jury verdicts. Look to see if Mr. Guillard is one of the first members of the nursing home committee to suggest tort reform on the federal level as a way of “eliminating the significant problem in our financing.”
The possibility of a multi-million dollar verdict against a Texas nursing home has been virtually eliminated by our Governor and our Legislature. Despite the limitations on verdicts in Texas, the nursing home neglect attorneys at Powers Taylor LLP are still working to help nursing home residents and their families hold abusive nursing homes in Texas accountable for their mistreatment, neglect, and abuse. Treatment like that received by Ms. Douglas should never be tolerated. Each nursing home neglect lawyer at Powers Taylor is committed to seeking fairness in the court system after a resident suffers substandard treatment. Please call our office if you believe that you or your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect.