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Costly Fines for “Embattled” Brookdale May Reveal Deeper Problem for Consumers




Brookdale Senior Living is making the wrong kind of financial headlines this week.  News of slumping stocks and a “gloomy” outlook have stirred rumors that a sale of the “embattled” Brentwood-based company is a possibility.  Chief Executive Officer Andy Smith lamented that “a competitive labor market” may be to blame for some of the company’s troubles.

While that may be so, a closer look at some questionable management decisions in Florida may shed some light on what’s happening in the company’s trenches, possibly adding to the heartburn of some already anxious shareholders and to the chagrin of residents and their families.

Over the last few weeks, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has slapped Brookdale with more than a dozen fines related to the “untimely submission” of adverse incident[1] reports to the state’s regulatory agency.

Florida law mandates that assisted living facilities are to submit an adverse incident report within “1 business day” of an incident to AHCA and subsequently submit a “full adverse incident report” within 15 days that details the “results of the facility’s investigation” into that incident. Each report that exceeds the statutory timeframe may cost the company a monetary penalty (most likely $500).

The table below details those Brookdale facilities recently sanctioned by AHCA for late adverse incident reports and the number of days the reports exceeded the state’s deadline:

Facility Name

Submission
Due Date

Date
Received

Days
Exceeded

Brookdale Bay Pines

5/12/16

5/22/16

10

Brookdale Bluewater Bay

5/12/16

5/13/16

1

Brookdale Bayshore

5/20/16

5/27/16

7

Brookdale Bradenton Gardens

4/7/16

5/27/16

50

Brookdale Bradenton Gardens

5/10/16

5/13/16

3

Brookdale Carrollwood

3/11/16

4/1/16

21

Brookdale Coconut Creek

5/8/16

5/18/16

10

Brookdale Conway

4/2/16

4/28/16

26

Brookdale Deer Creek

3/27/16

4/25/16

29

Brookdale Destin

4/24/16

4/27/16

3

Brookdale Fort Myers Cypress Lake

4/25/16

4/30/16

5

Brookdale Fort Walton Beach

3/31/16

4/5/16

5

Brookdale Gainesville Southwest

3/19/16

5/5/16

47

Brookdale Naples

4/13/16

4/25/16

12

Brookdale Centre Pointe Boulevard

4/12/16

4/15/16

3

Brookdale Centre Pointe Boulevard

4/1316

4/15/16

2

 

As one can imagine, numerous costly fines accumulated because of careless paperwork filings would eventually slice into a company’s profit margins.  While this may not be the best economic news for Brookdale’s shareholders, these late reports may translate into a much deeper problem for consumers knowing about the quality of care residents may or may not be receiving.

Surprisingly, Florida law protects adverse incident reports from any public disclosure and further ensures that they are exempt from any civil or administrative case.  Only the Agency for Health Care Administration and a facility’s representatives are privy to these documents.  Residents and families are left in the dark as to the volume and frequency of adverse incident reports being filed from each facility and to the severity of problems identified within those reports.  The only glimpse consumers have into the adverse incident world is when facilities fail to meeting filing deadlines and when that untimeliness results in a state sanction.

Families for Better Care believes Florida law should be amended to open adverse incident reports to public review, thereby improving transparency and accountability of assisted living facilities throughout the state.

As for Brookdale, its shareholders, and its customers; the company may be better served if managers simply followed prescribed state timelines, preserving profits and perhaps offsetting any talk of a company takeover.

[1] An adverse incident is defined by Florida law as an event wherein “the facility could exercise control rather than as a result of resident’s condition” and that event results in such catastrophic outcomes as “brain or spinal damage, permanent disfigurement, fracture of bones, or death” of a resident (Section 429.23, F.S.).


ABOUT FAMILIES FOR BETTER CARE

Families for Better Care is a non-profit citizen advocacy group dedicated to creating public awareness of the conditions in our nation’s nursing homes and developing solutions to improve quality of life and care.