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Nursing Homes Rated on New Government Website

Dec 22, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched a Website ranking nearly 16,000 nursing homes.  Reuters Health reports that this is the first-ever federally-managed Website that >ranks nursing home facilities for quality.  

"Around three million Americans depend on nursing homes at some point during each year to provide life-saving care," CMS administrator Kerry Weems said in a statement announcing the website launch.   "Most of those individuals are enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare and we all bear a special responsibility to protect their health and welfare."

The CMS oversees the Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs, explained Reuters Health.  The 15,800 nursing homes rated by CMS participate in the public insurance system.  According to CMS, in the first round of ratings, about 12 percent of the nation's nursing homes received a full five-star rating while 22 percent scored at the low end with one star.  The remaining 66 percent of facilities were distributed fairly evenly among the two, three, and four star rankings, Reuters said.

Looked at were the incidence of bed sores, resident mobility, and if recommended medical care was received, said Reuters Health, which said the site——will receive monthly updates and will include staffing levels and if the facility is for- or not-for-profit.  "The new Website improvements also include links to information for community-based alternatives to nursing homes that may be of great interest to families," Thomas Hamilton, who helped develop the new system, told Reuters Health.  

Nursing homes must meet federal residents' rights requirements to participate in Medicare or Medicaid. Some states have residents' rights in state law or regulation for nursing homes, licensed assisted living, adult care homes, and other board and care facilities. A person living in a long-term care facility maintains the same rights as an individual in the larger community.  

In spite of the law, nursing home abuse continues to be a serious problem.  The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates at least one in 20 nursing home patients has been the victim of negligence and or abuse, noting the number is likely higher.  According to the National Center’s study, 57% of nurses’ aides in long-term care facilities admitted to having witnessed, and even participating in, acts of negligence and abuse.

Earlier this month, Business First of Buffalo reported that New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced the arrests of nursing home employees over charges of resident neglect and abuse.  According to Business First, three employees were arrested and charged and a fourth was convicted for “abusing elderly and ill patients.”

The arrests followed a New York state-wide investigation into institutional care abuse and neglect said Buffalo First.  A prepared release stated that the acts involved “physically attacking and using racial slurs against an 86-year-old Alzheimer’s patient, slapping a 100-year-old patient in the face, and tying an elderly patient with dementia to a chair for two consecutive nights.”

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