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Nursing Home Residents Prevail in Neglect Lawsuits Against Chains

Published on Nov 19, 2014 at 8:36 am in Nursing Home Abuse.

As families look to hold nursing homes accountable for neglecting proper care of their loved ones, some are finding success when action is taken against a corporate chain of homes. In these types of suits, families can show the corporation as a whole is making a decision to put its profits over the care of its residents.

The industry blames attorneys for bringing these suits and claim the homes operate on slim margins, but when you look at the merits of the cases, it doesn’t seem the corporate-run homes can hide behind attorney-bashing.

Consider, for example, a lawsuit against a West Virginia nursing home involving an 87-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. She was only at the Charleston-based Heartland Nursing Home for a short while before she died. Court records say that she was “dehydrated, malnourished, bedridden and barely responsive” prior to her death and had suffered head trauma from several falls.

Nursing Home Patient Hospitalized After Being Left in Sun

Published on Nov 18, 2014 at 8:30 am in Nursing Home Abuse.

A Pennsylvania nursing home patient had to be hospitalized after he sat for hours in the hot sun last August. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports that the state has imposed a correction plan on the home and the head administrator has left.

The incident occurred at the Claremont Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Cumberland County near Carlisle. The resident had been in the sun for two hours and was non-responsive by the time a visitor called attention about his condition to one of the staff.

The visitor noticed the resident sitting by himself sometime about 3:45 pm that day. The visitor saw that the man’s head was drooping, and he was drooling and non-responsive. The last documented interaction with the resident by staff was at 2:00 pm in his room. After that, the resident interacted with a social worker on the elevator and told the worker that he was “going to go work on his tan.”

Overuse of Antibiotics in Nursing Homes

Published on Nov 12, 2014 at 7:51 pm in Nursing Home Abuse.

I’ve written before about nursing homes that over prescribe painkillers and mood altering drugs to control and sedate their residents. Now it turns out that regular antibiotics are also being overused – and the US government is trying to do something about it.

The White House has issued an Executive Order addressing the problem of over-exposure to antibiotics. Nursing homes aren’t the only ones over prescribing. Doctors and hospitals are part of the problem as well.

Owner of Troubled Nursing Homes Wants to Make Suing Harder

Published on Nov 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm in Nursing Home Abuse.

The Kentucky long-term care industry is lobbying hard to make it more difficult for nursing home residents to file lawsuits against the homes. Nursing home providers want a law passed that would require lawsuits be reviewed for merit by a medical review panel of health care providers.

One of the primary people funding this push is wealthy political donor, Terry Forcht. Forcht runs nine nursing homes, along with ventures in several other industries, including Forcht Bank, which has $1 billion in assets.

Some legislators, who have received hefty campaign contributions from Forcht, argue the review panels are necessary to protect the nursing homes from “predatory law firms”.

Medicare Improves Its Nursing Home Ratings System

Published on Nov 3, 2014 at 8:28 am in Nursing Home Abuse.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced improved auditing procedures will be used to make its five-star rating system for nursing homes more reliable. The changes will take effect in January and address many of the concerns that have been raised about the rating system. 

In 2009, when the rating system was first put in place, 37 percent of homes earned a four or five star rating. By 2013, nearly 50 percent of homes rated four or five stars. Many critics have argued that companies have learned how to rig the ratings system. The main problem is that the system is ripe for rigging because much of the information comes from the homes themselves, without any review or auditing. 

The Medicare ratings are supposed to show a homes quality in the following three areas:

  1. Health Inspections rating – Using the three most recent and comprehensive (annual) inspections and inspections that resulted from complaints in the last three years. This is the only category of data that comes from an independent source.
  2. Quality Measures (QM) rating –QMs are based on clinical data by the nursing home.
  3. Staffing rating – Based on: 1) Registered Nurse (RN) hours per resident day; and 2) total staffing hours per resident day, as reported by the homes.

We previously wrote about the incentives that nursing homes use to manipulate the data. The Medicare ratings impact where doctors discharge patients from hospitals and influence insurers’ decisions about which nursing homes to include in their networks.  

Increased Auditing and Reliability

Starting in January, the New York Times reports, nursing homes will have to report their staffing levels quarterly, with an electronic system that can be verified with payroll data. Critics pointed out that under the current system, many homes have been accused of ramping up staffing just at reporting time and laying people off right after.

For the Quality Measures rating, Medicare is launching an audit program to check the accuracy of the reported data.

The system is adding in data about two additional measures of quality. The ratings in January are planned to include information about how many patients are being prescribed antipsychotic drugs. By 2016, the system is also planned to display data on staff turnover.

CMS officials said they have been testing an auditing system at the state level that they plan to expand. The program would include both random and targeted audits.