Earlier this year we shared information on a new tool created by ProPublica to review the quality of care at nursing homes across the country. Similar to the CMS “Nursing Home Compare” website, the ProPublica option allows anyone to check on past instances of neglect and misconduct at various facilties–a very handy aid for those families trying to parse through the often-complex details of picking the appropriate long-term care facility for a loved one.
You can check out the Nursing Home Inspect tool for yourself by clicking here.
Most Common Problems at Nursing Homes
Recently, after using the tool to collect data, ProPublica put together an interesting list of the ten most common types of nursing home violations. The list is a handy reminder of the many ways that care can be substandard at these facilities and how resident lives can be placed in jeopardy by problems at these homes. We encourage everyone to head over the the website and view the full list.
All told, the tool incudes a list of 262,500 regulatory violations at homes across the country. These violations stem from inspection reports that are conducted at each facility in different states. We often share examples of some of those violations in Illinois. In our state the inspections are done by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Every quarter the IDPH releases a “Quarterly Violator Report” which included copies of the violations issed in the previous few months and includes access to the actual reports which details what went wrong.
It is a somewhat disheartening process to read the individual stories which led to these violations. It is one thing to hear a citatation for a failure to timely call emergency medical crews. But it is another to understand that the failure resulted in a senior resident forced to sit in their own room while experiencing a significant medical emergency without anyone coming to their aid. It is critical not to forget that many of the violations have human stories behind them. It is much more than rote regulations and mundance paperwork violations–real elderly friends and family are invovled, often suffering needlessly because of these errors.
So what erorrs are most common?
According to the ProPublica report, the number one single violation most commonly issued were for facilities that were not “free of accident hazards.” This may include any number of things, all related to failing to keep the physical premises and individual rooms as safe and secure as they should be for the residents using them. These probems may lead to things like nursing home falls and accidents after resident wandering. All told, well over 17,000 citations for these problems were given out nationwide according to the report.
The second most common problem, with over 14,000 violations, is failure to establsh proper infection control programs. Many senior residents in nursing homes have medical vulnerabilities and weakened immune systems. For this reason, it is paramount that the resident be protected from pathogens that may cause them harm. However, many facilities do not operate as efficiently as possible to minimize the spread of infection or to respond appropriately when infections are identified. For example, many residents develop bed sores which are not properly cared for. Those sores are often infected, with serious, lefe-threatening complications developing as a result.
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Illinois Nursing Home Stats from IDPH Report