U.S. nursing home industry fails to protect residents as aging population demand grows

posted on:
September 14, 2017

author:
Chris Boutwell

 U.S. nursing home industry fails to protect residents as aging population demand growsA new study from the RAND Center for the Study on Aging shows that more than half the U.S. population will require nursing home care at some point during their lives. The number is much higher than the 35 percent previously estimated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The needs can range from weeks of temporary care for rehabilitation to longer term care. These findings come on the heels of a recently released report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at HHS. When combined, the information from the two reports is very troubling for our country’s aging population and their loved ones regarding the abuse and neglect running rampant in nursing homes across the country.

Auditors for the OIG found that skilled nursing facilities or nursing homes failed or refused to report more than one-quarter of severe incidents of abuse as required by law.

In an ongoing review of potential abuse and neglect of Medicare beneficiaries, auditors uncovered 134 such incidents and learned that 28 percent of the cases showed no evidence they were reported to local law enforcement “despite State mandatory reporting laws requiring the hospitals’ medical staff to do so,” the report noted. While the audit continues, OIG officials believed it was critical to issue an “early alert” insisting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees nursing homes, immediately address the significant underreporting problem.

The auditors discovered the grave problem while sifting through and comparing reports for services paid to beneficiaries who obtained emergency room treatment in addition to the treatment and care they were already receiving at their nursing home. Auditors learned that CMS does not conduct the same type of comparison of beneficiaries’ records. This finding was key to alerting auditors that CMS procedures to identify and report abuse and neglect incidents were deficient.

As federal regulators and consumer advocates work to combat nursing home abuse and neglect and make nursing homes safer for residents, others are working to block these efforts, including the nursing home industry. In the coming weeks, we will highlight the shortfalls within the industry and the challenges facing nursing home residents and their families and caregivers in this Nursing Home Series of stories.

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If you need more information on nursing home litigation contact Chris Boutwell at 800-898-2034 or by email at Chris.Boutwell@beasleyallen.com. Chris handles nursing home litigation for our firm, and he will be glad to talk with you.

Visit BeasleyAllen.com on Thursday, Sept. 21 for another installment in the Nursing Home Series.

Sources:
RAND Center for the Study on Aging
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Office of Inspector General

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