About six months ago, journalism non-profit ProPublica launched an interactive, searchable database for those seeking more information about federal sanctions handed down for nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect and nursing home negligence.
Now, the they’ve updated this tool to include a greater amount of information, including fines and payment suspensions of tens of thousands of nursing homes nationwide.
The database was originally created as a way for the journalists to track problematic trends. But the reporters soon came to the conclusion that the information was something to which the public needed access if there was ever to be a greater level of accountability for poorly-performing nursing homes.
Some of these places had the same severe deficiencies reported over and over again. While state officials hold the power to shut down any facility that puts the lives and well-being of patients at risk, that rarely happens.
The new database allows interested parties to compare Florida to other states, analyze individual nursing home performance reports and added several “Top 20” lists – everything from the most fines to the highest number of serious deficiencies.
This database differs from what the federal government offers on its Nursing Home Compare website in that it does not contain self-reported quality measures from the nursing homes.
When we look at Florida as a whole, seven of the state’s nursing homes were given “L” rating deficiencies. These are the most serious, on a scale of “A” to “L.”
One example noted was in Plant City, where federal authorities reported four deficiencies for failure to provide the appropriate housekeeping and maintenance services. Ongoing renovations throughout the facility were being conducted with little to no regard for the dust, debris and noise impact on residents. Further, every day items such as working toilets were displaced and many residents were placed at risk for injury due to these environmental hazards.
Another example was in Estero, where a facility there reportedly failed to make sure care met the appropriate standards. An Alzheimer’s patient who had fallen developed a terrible pressure ulcer on her heel. The nursing staff was not aware of it, and so took no measures to properly treat the wound, which had become blackened by the time investigators arrived. Another patient at that same facility was observed to have untreated wounds on his feet as well. Also at that facility, there was no working fire alarm system, putting everyone at risk.
In a Jacksonville facility, the nursing home not only hired people with a history of abuse, neglect and mistreatment of residents, it failed to report and investigate reported acts of abuse, neglect and mistreatment. When the daughter of a resident voiced concerns that her mother may have been sexually assaulted, this complaint was not investigated.
Those are just a few of the more recently-reported incidents.
Florida averaged 0.35 deficiencies per home. Kentucky reported the highest at 1.35, while Delaware reported the lowest with 0.
The average fine for a nursing home deficiency in Florida is about $25,000. Compare that to Tennessee, which has an average deficiency fine rate of $74,000. Several states, including Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming and North Dakota, did not issue fines for nursing home deficiencies. Florida also had 29 instances of suspension of payment for new admissions over the last three years. This action is taken when a home is being penalized for failure to address previously identified deficiencies. Texas had the highest, with 228 payment suspensions, while South Dakota reported the fewest, with 1.
With regard to the facilities with the most fines, two Florida facilities made the list. A Deltona facility ranked No. 2, with $682,000 in fines, while a Sebring facility ranked 16th with $446,000 in fines.
Nationwide, the top 10 most cited deficiencies (out of 263,000 total) were:
–Failure to ensure the facility is free from accident hazards;
–Failure to establish an infection control program;
–Failure to provide necessary care for the highest practicable well-being;
–Failure to store, prepare and distribute food according to the appropriate sanitary conditions;
–Failure to develop comprehensive plans of care;
–Failure to meet professional service standards;
–Failure to ensure clinical records meet professional standards;
–Failure to employ persons with no history of abuse;
–Failure to ensure that patients aren’t given unnecessary drugs;
–Failure to ensure patients are treated with dignity.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
What’s New In Nursing Home Inspect, Dec. 17, 2013, By Charles Ornstein and Lena Groeger, ProPublica
More Blog Entries:
Elder Care Negligence in Florida’s Assisted Living Facilities, Dec. 11, 2013, Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog