Posted on August 26, 2016

The Challenge of Preventing Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse and neglect can have deadly consequences. Often, abuse and neglect occur because a nursing home does not take its obligations to patients seriously enough and the facility fails to develop the policies necessary to protect patients. It is very common for nursing homes with problems to have not just one issue, but a pervasive array of violations which come together to create an especially dangerous environment for seniors.

Preventing abuse and neglect involves doing research to make sure you or your loved one does not end up a nursing home that is systematically failing to provide appropriate care. Doing this research can be difficult, especially with the accuracy of important resources being challenged.

The Difficulty of Preventing Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

A recent article published by Boston Globe perfectly illustrated how problems in nursing homes can snowball to have serious or fatal consequences for nursing home residents. According to the Globe, a patient with dementia died at a nursing care facility after having a heart attack. Staff members who were present at the time of the heart attack did not have the training to revive the patient. Nursing home staff also failed to report the death to the state health department, claiming they did not feel the need to report it because the patient didn’t have any family.

An investigation was launched after this patient’s death and a 70 page report revealed widespread problems. Among the issues included inadequate training in life support, oxygen machines standing empty, defective equipment being used to restore cardiac rhythm during a heart attack, and alarms to prevent Alzheimer’s patients from leaving the building missing. The lengthy report detailing all of the problems is a perfect illustration of the extensive issues that can arise when a nursing home operator does not care about providing a safe environment for seniors.

Ideally, there would be a simple and easy way to find out which nursing homes have been identified as having serious problems affecting patient care. Unfortunately, there is no reliable comprehensive resource to turn to which provides the type of accurate and detailed info that people need when making choices about nursing homes.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has a nursing home compare page, which provides quality ratings and other related info. Unfortunately, Bloomberg BNA reports that there are accuracy issues. In fact, CMS recently changed its nursing home rating system by adding data from five new quality measures, but senators have indicated the change does not “answer questions about the system’s accuracy.” Unless patients can be 100 percent confident they will get accurate and current information about a home facility, nursing home comparison tools provide minimal or no benefits since they cannot be trusted.

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