The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) created the five-star quality rating system as a resource to help individuals, families, and caregivers find out more information about nursing homes (skilled nursing facilities) that participate in Medicare or Medicaid. The rating system helps to provide an easy-to-understand summary of three aspects of nursing home quality: health inspection results, staffing data, and quality measure data. Using this information, along with further research, can help individuals and families differentiate between high-performing and low-performing nursing homes.
Children of individuals in nursing homes want to make sure their parents are being well taken care of. This may mean watching for signs of abuse like bruising, cuts and scrapes, or emotional distress. However, these are not the only types of abuse that elders may be exposed to while in a nursing home. Unlike more active forms of abuse such as verbal and physical, neglect often goes unnoticed.
According to a report from Kaiser Health News, 74 percent of nursing homes in America have been cited for not taking proper measures to prevent infections. The report analyzed four years of data from facilities in North Carolina and throughout the country. However, it is rare for nursing homes that are cited to face any significant consequences. Only 1 in every 75 nursing homes that have been cited in the years analyzed have received citations that come with financial penalties.
North Carolina families who have elderly relatives may be interested to learn that more than one in four cases of potential physical or sexual abuse in nursing homes go unreported, according to the Health and Human Services. This data comes despite a law that requires Medicare to report potential cases to the police.
When a family in North Carolina needs to find a nursing home for an elderly loved one, they may feel compelled to sign away the right to settle disputes within the judicial system. Known as a pre-dispute arbitration clause, this element of an admission contract forces a resident to address disputes, including cases of neglect and abuse, in a private arbitration process geared toward limiting the accountability of the facility and preventing cases from entering the public record.
North Carolina residents who live in nursing facilities or have family members who do may be dismayed to learn that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services has stopped enforcing a rule that prevents the facilities from forcing patients to enter into binding arbitration agreements. A memo was sent to Medicare contractors and states in December.
North Carolina residents who have a loved one in a nursing home may also be able to file a lawsuit against the facility they believe has been neglecting or abusing the patient. A ruling from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is now in place that will allow this, although it is expected that it will be challenged. In the past, nursing home contracts contained an arbitration clause that made it impossible for families to sue. This meant that even if an arbitrator ruled against the nursing home, it never became public knowledge.
Elderly adults in North Carolina could become victims of abuse while living in nursing homes. There are many different forms of abuse that can occur in a nursing home setting. Nursing home abuse could be outright physical or sexual assault from staff or patients, or it could be serious neglect from the lack of appropriate medical attention.
North Carolina readers may be shocked to learn that around one in five nursing home residents suffer abuse at the hands of other residents, according to a study. The study, which was conducted by researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, is the first large-scale examination of systematic resident-to-resident abuse in nursing homes.