Choosing a nursing home for a loved one can be incredibly difficult, particularly if you’ve heard all the horror stories of what can happen when there is a neglectful or unqualified staff, few oversight controls or just a general lack of caring.
Hallandale Beach nursing home abuse lawyers are hoping that the revamping efforts of a government website that will help family members make more informed decisions.
Reports on nursing home infractions and health violations were previously “available” through the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, as they were technically public records – but good luck finding them.
The postings were rarely updated with any consistency, and they were tough to locate on the agency’s website anyway.
Now, Nursing Home Compare, located at www.medicare.gov/nhcompare/ , will post monthly updates regarding government inspection reports. The idea from the government’s perspective is to drive down costs. If nursing homes and hospitals know that these reports are going to be public, they will have a greater tendency to police themselves. Or so the thinking goes.
The bonus for potential nursing home residents is that caregivers will be able to view everything from the rates of antipsychotic drug dosing to whether staff is feeding patients a proper breakfast.
These are very good things, but Hallandale Beach nursing home abuse lawyers want you to continue to be wary. What’s included on those reports are only what inspectors actually found. Other instances of abuse or neglect may have been hidden or not reported.
But as an example of what you can find when you go to the website above and type in a 33009 ZIP code, the top result is a 120-patient bed with a one star rating for health, staffing and overall. It does have an above average rating for quality measure, but this is already not looking good.
From there, you can click on the “Inspections and Complaints” tab, which will allow you see that the last state inspection was conducted in November. You can view the full report to find that food wasn’t being stored properly, the home wasn’t resolving resident complaints in a timely fashion and patients were being over-medicated. But it didn’t stop there. The home had a fire safety deficiency that was way above average and that administrators failed to keep accurate records. You can also view that a complaint was filed against the home last September, indicating that at least eight patients were improperly medicated – with a number of patients not receiving any at all, despite their prescriptions.
For someone whose health is poor, such errors can mean the difference between life and death.
These are helpful improvements, particularly given that the previous star ratings provided by government officials didn’t provide any insight to the public as to why they had been rated that way. Now they do.
In addition to searching by ZIP code, you can also search by city or nursing home name. You can find records not just about facilities in Florida, but throughout the country.
You can also see what penalties, if any, have been lobbied against those agencies within the last several years. For example, the home we looked up last had a fine levied against it in 2009 for $9,100. We don’t know exactly what the fine was for, except that it was paid as a penalty for a violation.
We also know that this particular home has been deemed a “Special Focus Facility” due to findings from state and federal inspectors that indicate a recent history of persistent poor quality of care.
The site can serve as something of a “cheat sheet” for consumers, but it won’t entirely prevent nursing home abuse or neglect. Even having done all the research in the world, violations still occur.
When they do, call us.
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.