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North Carolina nursing home stats on the upswing

Newly released information shows that the incidence of nursing home neglect may be dwindling in North Carolina, but it appears the state still has a long way to go before its facilities can be considered better than average. A recent survey from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that about 16 percent of the state's nursing homes were considered five-star establishments, providing the best in services and care.

The survey considered a variety of factors, such as staffing levels, health inspection marks and input from patients. Indicators of patient satisfaction and health included the number of residents with bedsores and urinary tract infections, along with pain indicators among the patient population.

Nationwide, about 15.9 percent of nursing homes received the five-star designation. North Carolina's numbers sit just north of average, which means the state tied with Indiana for spot number 23 on the survey's list. Local researchers say the numbers are encouraging. North Carolina's ratings have experienced a significant increase since the 2009 survey. Furthermore, four out of five nursing homes in the state received the critical three-star designation, a measure of the minimum standard of care acceptable for resident patients.

Officials say the rating system generally provides an accurate measure of a facility's performance because it takes into account a variety of factors. Still, relatives seeking the appropriate care facility for their family members should take other information into consideration before they make a final choice. There are certain intangible measures, such as a nursing home's atmosphere and staff interaction with patients, that can significantly improve a resident's experience, even though it is not included in the star rating system.

If your relative has been injured or killed because of negligence at an under-performing nursing home, you have legal options. Do not suffer in silence because you do not have a legal advocate. Instead, consult the services of a qualified personal injury attorney. These North Carolina professionals can help you learn more about your legal rights and responsibilities, allowing you to get the money you need and deserve.

www.charlotteobserver.com, "Medicare report shows NC nursing home quality is improving" Renee Elder, Jul. 19, 2013

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