Burns and McNeill introduce bills to mandate death reporting requirements

HARRISBURG, July 15 – Nursing home and other adult care facilities would be held accountable for all resident deaths under legislation introduced this week by state Reps. Frank Burns and Jeanne McNeill.

House Bills 1713 and 1714 would increase oversight of nursing homes, assisting living residences and personal care homes by requiring them to report all deaths – regardless of cause – to the county coroner. The coroner would then determine, based on interviews with the facility and a review of the deceased resident’s medical history, if a formal investigation is warranted. If it is, the legislation would ensure coroners have access to the information they need to do their jobs.

“Far too many times, we see the disturbing headlines of an older adult who died at a nursing home or other senior care residence, due to neglect or abuse,” Burns said. “Currently, these facilities only have to report a death if staff deem it suspicious, such as a homicide or accident. Allowing administrators to police themselves opens the door for unscrupulous owners or staff to hide signs of inadequate care that could have led to that senior’s death.”

"This oversight is truly needed in these facilities to ensure our vulnerable older aduluts are protected and being provided the best care possible," McNeill said. "Our seniors deserve dignity and respect, and our legislation will provide a crucial layer of protection and rovide peace of mind to their loved ones."

The measures are part of the “Promise of Care” legislative package, a comprehensive approach to protecting seniors and giving family members the vital information they need about their loved ones and their care.

Pennsylvania State Coroners Association President Joseph Campbell, who also serves as the coroner for Bucks County, said recent statewide investigations have raised serious concerns about the services provided in some of the state’s nursing homes and personal care facilities.

“All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in living and in death, whether in their own home or in an assisted living facility,” Campbell said. “We commend the legislative interest in assuring that all elderly deaths, which should be reported to the coroner are, in fact, reported to the coroner.”