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Nursing Homes

Why You Can’t Rely on State Reports Alone to Judge a Nursing Home

Preventing nursing home abuse and neglect starts with picking the right facility for older family members. At the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A., we encourage people to visit managed care facilities in person, since there are factors to consider that can’t be seen in reports provided by state inspectors. A recent report by the government revealed that many issues with nursing homes go under-reported. Here are some of the reasons why you can’t rely solely on state reports to judge a nursing home. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General recently released a report that examined claims related to Medicare.  The review found that more needed to be done to safeguard Medicare beneficiaries from neglect at skilled nursing home facilities and hospices. The report reviewed Medicare emergency-room claims involving treatment provided to nursing home residents in 2016 and determined that many incidents of potential abuse aren’t being reported. 

The report authors estimated that 20 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes who were transported to hospital emergency rooms in 2016 were treated for high-risk conditions that may have been the result of potential nursing home abuse or neglect. The report looked for high-risk conditions such as treatment for lacerations, fractures, poisoning, and gangrene.

The data analysts for the report found that 7,831 of the 37,607 high-risk claims were the result of incidents of potential abuse or neglect. The level of potentially abuse-related injuries is inconsistent with the number of incident reports being sent to the state. The report didn’t single out any state in particular, but their results suggest that nursing homes are failing to follow federal laws on reporting incidents of abuse and neglect to state health care agencies.

Nursing home groups are aware that some providers use loopholes and vagueness to get out of reporting some incidents. According to media reports, an industry spokesperson for the Florida Health Care Association, Kristen Knapp, said nursing homes “fully support more transparent reporting.” However, the industry maintains the current definition of neglect is “vague and creates confusion about what should be reported.”

The report authors had several recommendations for federal agencies that will ensure incidents of potential abuse or neglect in nursing homes are identified and reported. These recommendations included improving training for state agency staff, surveying agencies record and track all incidents of potential abuse or neglect in nursing homes, as well as referrals made to local law enforcement and other agencies.

Caregivers looking for a high-quality nursing home can’t wait for state agencies to fix the loopholes in the reporting system. This is why it’s essential for family members to visit facilities in person as well as check state records for any incident reports. The reports are helpful, but they can’t give a complete picture of the quality of a nursing home and its staff.

If you need help choosing a nursing home for your loved ones, the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A. can help. We are the nursing home abuse and neglect experts, and we created a guide that has everything you need to pick the right facility for your family members. Download our State of Nursing Home Abuse Report to access helpful information and tools. And if you have questions about a potential case of nursing home abuse or neglect, send us a message online to schedule a consultation.