More than 90% of the country’s nursing homes were cited for violations of federal health and safety standards last year. For-profit homes were more likely to have problems than other types of nursing homes, according to a report by federal investigators. About 17% of nursing homes had deficiencies that caused “actual harm or immediate jeopardy” to patients, according to the report by Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. Problems included infected bedsores, medication mix-ups, poor nutrition and abuse and neglect of patients. Inspectors received 37,150 complaints about conditions in nursing homes last year. They substantiated 39% of them, the report said. About one-fifth of the complaints verified by federal and state authorities involved the abuse or neglect of patients.
The report reveals that about two-thirds of nursing homes are owned by for-profit companies, while 27% are owned by nonprofit organizations and 6% by government entities. The inspector general said 94% of for-profit nursing homes were cited for deficiencies last year, compared with 88% of nonprofit homes and 91% of government homes. The Inspector General had this to say concerning the report:
For-profit nursing homes had a higher average number of deficiencies than the other types of nursing homes. In 2007, for-profit nursing homes averaged 7.6 deficiencies per home, while not-for-profit and government homes averaged 5.7 and 6.3, respectively.
Mr. Levinson, the Inspector General, also issued a compliance guide that says some nursing homes “have systematically failed to provide staff in sufficient numbers and with appropriate clinical expertise to serve their residents.” Researchers have found that people receive better care at homes with a higher ratio of nursing staff to patients. The inspector general said he had found some cases in which nursing homes billed Medicare and Medicaid for services that “were not provided, or were so wholly deficient that they amounted to no care at all.”
More than 1.5 million people live in the nation’s 15,000 nursing homes. The homes are typically inspected once a year and must meet federal standards as a condition of participating in Medicaid and Medicare, which cover more than two-thirds of their residents. The cost to the government is $75 billion a year. Medicare pays a fixed daily amount for each nursing home resident, with higher payments for patients who are more severely ill and need more services. Mr. Levinson said some nursing homes had improperly classified patients, or overstated the severity of their illnesses, so the homes could claim larger Medicare payments. Federal officials have publicly identified 163 nursing homes that will receive extra scrutiny because of their “chronic failure to comply with quality-of-care standards.”
Source: New York Times
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