Orlando personal injury attorneys who sue in cases of nursing home injury can learn a lot from Medicare data, according to a recent story in The New York Times.
The Special Focus Facility Initiative singles out nursing homes with the worst safety records. The program began in 2005. These facilities get more inspections until they improve, but many of them later return to unsafe practices. These nursing homes injured patients by giving them the wrong medicines, for example, or failing to stop physical assaults by staff or other residents.
Safety Improvements Are Usually Temporary
The Times reported that Medicare removed more than 500 nursing homes from special focus status since 2014 because they had made safety improvements. But over half of those returned to unsafe practices. Many of these are unsafe because they do not hire enough registered nurses. Unsafe staffing is a major cause of nursing home injury. The federal government can withhold payment of Medicare and Medicaid funds from nursing homes with poor safety records, but it rarely does. More often, the nursing home will pay a fine and promise to correct unsafe conditions.
The United States has about 15,000 skilled nursing home facilities. Medicare designates only the worst performing nursing homes in each state as Special Focus facilities. Regulators say that more than 400 nursing homes across the country are unsafe enough to be included in the special focus list, but that only 88 will be listed this year because of budget cutbacks.
You can check Medicare’s nursing home ratings at Nursing Home Compare.