New federal study finds nursing facilities deficient in care planning

Let's face it: the nursing home industry does not have an exactly stellar reputation. It's not difficult to find stories in the media about allegations and findings of nursing home abuse and neglect of our elderly and disabled relatives and friends. The stress is unbearable of worrying about a loved one in a nursing facility when you suspect poor treatment.

HHS study

In February 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General released study findings of a comprehensive review of 2009 patient admissions to skilled nursing facilities, also called SNFs, that provide rehabilitation and nursing to elderly and disabled patients. A major payment type for SNFs is Medicare, the federal health care benefit for many elderly and disabled people.

Federal nursing home regulation

Federal law establishes detailed service delivery standards and requirements for SNFs that serve Medicare patients. The HHS study looked at the sufficiency of required care plans, whether patient care was administered according to the care plans and the adequacy of discharge plans. Unfortunately, significant deficiencies were found in all three areas:

  • SNF care plans were not compliant with federal standards or care was not delivered in accordance with care plans in 37 percent of patient stays.
  • SNF discharge care plans were insufficient in 31 percent of patient stays.
  • SNF medical record review revealed serious deficiencies in quality of care and recordkeeping in the areas of wound treatment, medication management and therapy delivery.
  • A whopping $5.1 billion was spent by the federal government for care that did not meet federal quality requirements in 2009.

The federal agencies involved are considering ways to improve compliance with federal quality-of-care standards and the study makes specific recommendations. But in the meantime, the results of the study do nothing to ease the fears of people concerned right now about their loved ones in nursing homes.

Seek legal representation

Anyone who suspects elder abuse or neglect of a family member in an SNF or other care facility should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who has represented nursing home abuse victims. A knowledgeable lawyer will instigate a thorough investigation and advise you about potential legal remedies to stop the abuse and get justice for your loved one.

Similarly, if your loved one tragically died under suspicious circumstances in a nursing home, in home care or in another health care setting, don't hesitate to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney about your legal rights and remedies. Your actions may make a wrongdoer pay legal damages for your loss and could prevent others from suffering at the hands of a negligent provider