Posted on January 13, 2017

Patients Cannot Count on Hospitals to Provide Info on Nursing Home Care

Being in the hospital is a very stressful time for patients and for the families of patients.  If a patient who was hospitalized cannot immediately go home again after being discharged from the hospital, this creates an added level of stress. A decision must be made on where the patient should go for care, or whether a home health aid should be hired to provide needed services at home.  The choice on where and how to secure care is a difficult one, since close to 40 percent of nursing homes have been cited over the course of the past 12 months for various kinds of violations related to patient safety and security.

Hospitals generally provide a list of possible care facilities to the patients who are being discharged. Sometimes, the nursing home care providers on the list are actually affiliated with the hospital. Often, they are not affiliated and are just a random list of names of caregivers and care facilities.  In either case, patients and their families may rely on the list provided by the hospital to select a care facility. Unfortunately, doing this can be a really bad idea.

When a hospital provides information on nursing homes or health aids who provide care for patients, most often the patient and the family of the patient will believe that the list is essentially an endorsement by the hospital.

It is a common misconception that the hospital has had past experience with the facilities it has put onto the list. Patients trust the word of the hospital, especially if they were satisfied with the care the hospital provided. The patient and family may select someone off the hospital’s list because they believe the hospital is essentially endorsing the facility and because they may not know where to start in searching for other options for patient care.

Unfortunately, hospitals do not necessarily mean to endorse a nursing home or other facility in most cases when giving lists to patients and caregivers. If the hospital does steer a patient towards a particular facility, it usually has more to do with the relationship of the facility and hospital, rather than the quality of care of the nursing home.

Not only do hospitals fail to make certain a facility they recommend is a good one, but hospitals also do not disclose when there are known problems with a nursing home. For example, Washington Post reported on a woman who died after going to a nursing home her daughter selected based on a list from the hospital the patient was discharged from. The hospital did not provide details on the fact the home had only a one-star Medicare rating, nor on the fact the home had been cited multiple times for violations. The outcome of this case was especially tragic, because the negligence of the nursing home contributed to the patient losing her life.

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