Are there objective indicia of nursing home abuse or neglect?

Helping a loved one transition to a nursing home or residential care facility can be a difficult process. Thanks to an online rating system published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the process can at least be informed. 

The five-star rating system measures several key areas, including rates of hospital-acquired infections. For elderly residents confined to their beds, the risk of bedsores or other infections may be increased. For that reason, this rating area can be important to assure prospective residents that a facility is adequately staffed and that patients are properly monitored. 

The rating system is quite thorough, assigning grades in the areas of health inspections, staffing and quality measurements. The inspections data comes from onsite visits, gathered by inspectors that follow a consistent process. Over 180,000 such reviews reviews factor into the national scoring system.

The staffing rating refers to the average number of hours that a resident will receive care from nursing staff. Facilities geared toward residents with severe needs are rated on a different scale to reflect the increased monitoring required of a special needs population, compared to able-bodied elderly residents. Finally, the quality ranking measures 11 different assessments into its score. The assessments include both physical and clinical tests. Over 12 million of these assessments ultimately shape the online resource.

As a law firm that helps to protect the rights of victims of nursing home neglect or abuse, we have heard attempts to explain away mistreatment as attributable to budgetary constraints or poor resident health. Fortunately, these excuses should fail under the objective criteria established by the quality rating system. An attorney can help investigate the true causes of a nursing home resident’s injury and weave these factors into strong legal advocacy.

Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “Five-Star Quality Rating System,” copyright CMS, Oct. 2015

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