NURSING HOME QUALITY SCORES DROP

Almost one-third of the nursing homes in the United States will be getting lower scores on the Government’s Quality Scale as a result of tougher standards being utilized for rating purposes. The Government’s Nursing Home Compare website is a five-star quality ratings program used by more than one million consumers to assess the quality of care being provided at nursing homes across the United States. Lawyers, like John Suthers, who have been representing victims of abuse and neglect in nursing homes for years, have urged the Government to implement changes in the way nursing homes are evaluated. Some of the changes being implemented include measures of the nursing homes’ use of any psychotic drugs. Such drugs can place older adults, especially those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, at an increased risk for suffering injuries. The new evaluation measures being implemented also involve a more refined method to evaluate a nursing home for adequate staffing, which is one of the most important factors in providing good, quality care.

In excess of one million people used the Nursing Home Compare website in 2014 to check on a nursing home’s ratings. Some nursing homes who receive good scores use that information in touting their facilities. The five-star rating system is not an exact science, and there is no substitute for going to the facility, observing the conditions there, and asking the right questions of management. For more information about questions to ask, go to the Nursing Home Resource Center page at the Suthers Law Firm website, www.sutherslaw.com. The new rating system, at least, raises the bar in order for nursing homes to receive a higher rating. Those of us who have been suing nursing homes for neglecting residents have been concerned for a long time that the ratings were over-inflated, so we applaud the implementation of stronger measures.

There were several findings resulting from implementing the new rating standards. The average overall rating for all U.S. nursing homes decreased from 3.4 stars to 3.1 stars. The biggest drop in specific areas of performance came in the category for quality of care, where the average score dropped from 4.1 stars to 3.3 stars. Alarmingly, almost 20% of nursing homes received the lowest possible score on the newly implemented measure for using anti-psychotic drugs. The new rating system penalized nursing homes who used such drugs on residents unless the drugs were indicated for specific conditions, such as schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, or Tourette’s syndrome. There are other quality measures that consumers should review, including the prevalence of pressure sore development and the number of falls resulting in injuries, as these remain the most common problems we see in nursing home residents.

If you would like to know the rating for a local nursing home, go to http://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html. If you have a friend or loved one whom you believe has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, contact the attorneys at Suthers Law Firm, www.sutherslaw.com.