A recent study by the Government Accountability Office and Health Services Research offices attempted to compare care in government-run nursing homes and private, for-profit nursing homes. Although for-profit nursing homes advertise better quality of care than their government counterparts, this study suggested that superior care in private nursing homes is not always true.
According to the study, which was published in July of last summer, the researchers reviewed complaints from for-profit nursing homes that had consistently provided poor quality care. Interestingly, most of these complaints centered around homes that private investment (PI) firms purchased for large nursing home chains. Many suggest that these PI firms are focusing on monetary success, not quality of care. The government study compared PI homes against other for-profit and nonprofit homes and found that higher instances of serious complaints and issues were found in PI homes; additionally, PI homes also had lower nurse/staff ratios. Additionally this lower ratio resulted in a decreased quality of care and correlated to more pressure ulcers, higher mortality rates, and a higher number of regulation violations. The study reported that "the top ten for-profit homes received 36 percent higher deficiency citations and 41 percent higher serious deficiencies. These deficiencies are issued whenever a facility violates regulations that can lead to injury."
The government sets up standard state and national regulations that private homes must meet, and if these standards are not met, citations are issued. There are over 180 regulations and regulation deficiencies are reported on two different levels, standard and serious, during routine and random federal inspections. A standard deficiency is more related to quality standards, such as cleanliness and food storage, while a serious deficiency is more directly related to putting a patient in immediate danger. Citations can result in a range of consequences, from monetary penalties to revoking a license.
With this in mind, it is important to research the many options available to your family if you are deciding to put a loved one into a nursing home. By gaining the most information possible, you can make the best decision to avoid elder abuse and substandard care. Substandard care in a nursing home often leads to neglect and injuries. Nursing home litigation is a relatively new field of negligence law. We suggest you consult with an attorney who understands the complex federal and state regulations that apply to care plans in nursing homes. For more information on Attorney Doug Stoehr and his central Pennsylvania law firm, please visit our website or call us at (814) 946-4100.