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Rating system for nursing homes omits incidents of abuse

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2021 | Nursing Home Abuse

For families in New York and around the country, finding the right facility for an elderly loved one becomes a priority when they can no longer take care of themselves. It seems that relying on federal resources, however, may no longer be a reliable option.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (C.M.S.) is not only responsible for oversight of Medicare and Medicaid services, but also the five-star rating system that allegedly provides accurate information to those families who are researching their options in the communities in which an elderly family member lives.

This federal agency relies on self-reporting by nursing homes to compile the necessary information, and it appears that their ratings system provides a less than accurate picture to families of the actual conditions of some homes. Added to this, the omission of abuse incidents that state agencies submitted to the C.M.S. may be giving a false impression of the care that residents receive at certain facilities.

Reporting on flaws in the ratings system

According to the New York Times, investigative reporting suggests a deliberate suppression of incidents of abuse in the agency’s appeals process, with regulators also claiming technical glitches for the omission of some incidents on the website. The report documented 2,700 dangerous incidents, including sexual assault, neglect, or endangerment, that never appeared in the C.M.S. data of many nursing facilities around the country

The rating system omits citations from onsite inspections to make nursing homes seem cleaner and safer than they actually are, and their data also appears to obscure evidence of the widespread use of powerful antipsychotic drugs on residents at some facilities.

But where state inspectors do issue severe citations, a secretive appeals process within the federal jurisdiction creates delays in the judgements on negative decisions that could prove damaging to these nursing homes. Federal court decisions that do uphold citations often do not show up on the Medicare website, which is called Care Compare.

Discovering nursing home abuse

Families of loved ones in Olean and surrounding areas should not rely on just one source when researching their options. It can help to get recommendations from trusted healthcare providers, social workers, or community and religious groups. Visiting the facility and asking question is essential.

If you suspect that your loved one has not received the right treatment at a nursing home or shows telltale signs of neglect or abuse, such as unexplained bruises or broken bones or a drastic change in behavior, it is important to take immediate steps to investigate the cause and take necessary action.