The ABC11 I-Team recently revealed a series of problems with the existing nursing home rating system in North Carolina.
The federal government ranks nursing homes on a system ranging from 1-star for the worst to 5-star for the best such facilities. The news station report revealed that almost half of the homes in North Carolina’s biggest counties are providing subpar service to their needy North Carolina residents.
This low ranking means that almost half the facilities in such populated parts of the state are unsanitary and could even place patients’ health at risk. The report discovered serious violations including failure to report abuse, failure to properly secure residents during transport and even one facility that had room temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees which resulted in one resident dying from hypothermia.
However, even the best facilities can still have serious problems. One woman told reporters that she’s angry after her mother’s death at the Kindred Transitional Care Rehabilitation, one of the top-rated nursing homes in Raleigh, NC. She claims that the staff at the home neglected her mother and never provided the care she needed.
An investigation showed that while the nursing home may have had a 4-star rating, the simplistic system failed to reveal serious past problems at the facility. Just two years ago the state fined the home more than $200,000 for putting residents in “immediate jeopardy to health and safety”. In 2009, another investigation by the state turned up a series of violations that the home then had to take action to correct.
Yet despite the importance of some of the information, the Medicare website where such rankings are found, www.medicare.gov, contained none of it. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid responded to this news by saying that recent changes to the site should help to improve the depth of information available for concerned patients and their families. Though that’s great news, it doesn’t help the families who already placed loved ones in homes while relying on faulty ratings.
Even now, many patients’ rights advocates complain that the Medicare website lags in providing accurate information for caregivers. Given high staff turnover at such facilities, nursing homes can deteriorate quickly and it can take time for resulting problems to appear on the rating website.
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