Most community members do not grasp the true scope of the problem of poor nursing home care until it affects them personally. However, those who do a bit of investigating are quick to learn how many stories exist of extremely substandard care that occurs time and again at facilities across the country, including in Illinois. As Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers, we are attuned to the horrific treatment of some residents. But we know that the problem will never be fully addressed if only elder care advocates are aware of the issues. Instead, we need more awareness of the examples of mistreatment so that real political muscle and public pressure can be used to demand that the law is followed at every facility, every day.
Nursing Home Inspections
Fortunately, there is a growing number of resources that are easily accessible to help spread the word. For example, ProPublica recently published an article that discusses some “uncensored” nursing home inspection information from the federal government. The inspections offer a good example of the poor quality of care provided at some long-term care facilities. All told, the ProPublica database includes information about 267,000 deficiencies noted in federal inspections of nursing homes in recent years.
These unredacted inspection reports are an improvement on the older reports that were already available on the ProPublica site. The “Nursing Home Inspect” tool allows anyone to search for problems at facilities nearby. This is a helpful way to made decisions about which home to admit a loved one. However, in the past, the only reports available using the tool were “censored” versions of federal reports. No longer. Now, the Nursing Home Inspect tool will provide full and complete access to these reports. This is a welcome change, as there should be nothing to hide when it comes to understanding the quality of care at facilities treating our vulnerable senior loved ones.
Please Click Here to access the Nursing Home Inspect website.
So what information was previously redacted?
According to an article announcing the change, the federal government previously claimed that the censorship was necessary to balance privacy concerns. For example, prescription information was previously hidden in order to protect the interests of the patients. However, patient names are not used in any version of the reports (even the uncensored ones), and so there is little risk of identifying former residents. Having access to the medication use is helpful, as understanding if antipsychotic errors were made in the past might influence a choice about placement for a loved one.
We encourage all local families to take advantage of these helpful tools when learning about long-term care issues for their loved ones. We have seen too many cases where seniors experienced mistreatment because they were admitted to a substandard facility. Yet, if a family member ever is harmed by mistreatment at a facility, it is critical not to let it go without acknowledgement. Contact our legal team to see what steps are appropriate to ensure that there is accountability for the poor care.
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