As we have written about before, states and the federal government have over time increased the quality and quantity of data kept on nursing homes across the country in an effort to quantify and qualify the quality of care and incidents of abuse and neglect that occur. Through this data and information the government, through appropriate agencies like federal and state health departments or departments of aging and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, among others, can know which facilities to increase the frequency of investigations for violations of the law and regulations, and can furthermore publish such information to inform the public so that people in search of a nursing home for themselves or for a loved one has as much information as possible at hand. In addition to the government, advocacy groups that specialize in the promotion of safe and quality nursing homes and long-term care facilities seek out data on abuse and neglect incidents as well as reports on quality of care to also aid the public’s awareness and knowledge about nursing homes’ respective records. These groups add another vital group of watchdogs to such an important issue.
Sometimes the data and information collected is used not only to look at individual homes, but to also rate by state. Just recently, the advocacy group called Families for Better Care, which is based in Florida, conducted a survey and published findings in its second annual nursing home report card. In this report card, Families for Better Care included the ranking of states based on the quality of care offered in nursing homes statewide. In the last report card, the state of Oklahoma finished 48th nationwide, and this year things got worse as it fell all the way to 49th. It is now the third-worst in the nation, with Louisiana at 50th overall and thus second-worst, and Texas as 51st and therefore the worst, all out of an assessment of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia.
In earning the ‘F’ rating, Oklahoma for its part had 98% of its nursing homes cited for at least one deficiency, which according to the report is 7% higher than last year. Even worse, 25% of nursing homes across Oklahoma “were cited for actual harm or immediate jeopardy to residents.” There were also verified nearly 62% of ombudsman complaints levied against nursing homes in the state. Louisiana nursing homes were found to have given residents “less than 2 hours and 15 minutes of direct care” every day, and according to the report almost every facility was cited for at least one deficiency during the year. In earning an ‘F’ rating, Louisiana had nearly 80% of ombudsman complaints against its facilities verified. And last and unfortunately least, Texas “failed to score an above average grade in any quality measure, failing 6 of 8 statistical categories.” Almost 80% of facilities across the state did not receive above average health inspection ratings, which is 10% worse than last year, according to the report card. And about 95% of facilities across Texas violated either federal or state laws in some way, while almost every complaint against facilities submitted to the state ombudsman were verified.
While negative and distressing particularly for those in certain states receiving failing grades, this report card in general demonstrates the important of keeping tabs on nursing homes as both a wake-up call to those facilities, as well as to the respective states that have much to do to ensure their in-state facilities operate up to code.
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