DOJ Brings Suit Against Nursing Homes Over Alleged Neglectful Conduct

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint on Tuesday in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against defendants American Health Foundation, AHF Management Corporation, Cheltenham Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, the Sanctuary at Wilmington Place, and Samaritan Care Center and Villa for purported negligence at the nursing homes.

The complaint, which was filed under the False Claims Act, alleges that the three AHF nursing home defendants did not meet various standards of care when treating residents, including not following infection control protocols and not maintaining adequate staffing levels.

A press release issued by the DOJ on Wednesday describes defendant AHF as a “nonprofit corporation that is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, and owns and controls nursing homes in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa,” including the nursing homes that the suit was brought against.

The press release specifically details that defendant Cheltenham “housed its residents in a dirty, pest-infested building; gave its residents unnecessary medications… failed to safeguard residents’ personal possessions, subjected residents to verbal abuse, neglected to provide residents with activities or stimulation,” and more.

Defendants Wilmington Place and Samaritan also reportedly failed to maintain medical records, and Wilmington Place allegedly provided its residents with unnecessary medications “while also failing to ensure that its residents had the prescriptions they actually needed.”

The complaint contends that as a result of the defendants’ misconduct, a resident at Cheltenham that had been admitted with a history of self-harm was admitted to a local hospital after slashing their wrists. Upon returning to Cheltenham from their hospital stay, the defendants “ignored additional warning signs and failed to provide him with needed psychiatric services.” The resident committed suicide weeks later.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, who is head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, asserts that “the department will not tolerate nursing homes – or their owners or managing entities – who abdicate these responsibilities and seek taxpayer funds to which they are not entitled.”

The complaint cites a violation of the False Claims Act, payment by mistake, and unjust enrichment. The United States seeks damages and a trial by jury.