The federal government uses a ‘Care Compare’ rating system to track nursing homes in the United States via their Medicare.gov website. This rating system was designed to track nursing home safety violations and help loved ones choose safe homes for their family member needing care. Unfortunately, a New York Times investigation has found flaws in the reporting system which is allowing many heinous infractions to be left off this rating database.
A series of problems with the Medicare rating system has been found and reported. Much of the data put into the system is incorrect and often makes nursing homes seem cleaner and safer than they are. The rating system also obscures how many residents are receiving powerful antipsychotic drugs.
The investigation found multiple nursing home infractions across the United States that were never reported, including Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington, where the first coronarvirus outbreak occurred. Currently Life Care Center still shows a 5-star rating despite the safety complaints they received from how they handled the outbreak at their facility.
According to the article, “the investigation found that at least 2,700 similarly dangerous incidents were also not factored into the rating system run by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or C.M.S., which is designed to give people reliable information to evaluate the safety and quality of thousands of nursing homes.”
It was also found that many nursing homes can appeal safety and health violations, which keep the infractions off of their Medicare ratings even if the appeal is eventually denied. Appeals can drag on for a year and the infractions are not reported while in the midst of the appeal process.
Additionally, inspectors are typically urged to encourage facilities to make improvements before writing up citations for nursing home safety problems. Citations require extra paperwork and time to continue to follow-up with nursing home visits, but inspectors are typically overwhelmed with caseloads.
The New York Times article, “A Flawed Nursing Home System”, is a reminder that if you are researching nursing home facilities for your loved ones, to not just rely on the nursing home’s marketing materials or the Medicare rating system. Make sure to visit the nursing home facility a few different times of the day and week to review the staffing levels and the care residents are receiving. Talk to other resident’s family members and get their feedback on the level of care as well. Due diligence is very important when choosing the right nursing care home.
If you suspect your loved one has been mistreated or abused at their nursing home, contact Clark, Perdue & List for a free consultation. Our experienced nursing home abuse team will help you obtain medical records along with nursing home violation records.