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New Nursing Home Rating System to Better Evaluate Quality of Care

According to the New York Times, the federal government will be implementing significant changes to the rating system of nursing homes in the United States. Currently, the ratings are based on a five star system that is scrutinized by the public. This five star rating system “has been criticized for its reliance on self-reported, unverified data.” The current system was implemented five years ago and evaluates staffing levels and quality of care, which is reported by the nursing homes and not audited by the federal government.  This flawed rating system “relied heavily on unverified and incomplete information that even homes with a documented history of quality problems were earning top ratings.” In 2009 37% of nursing homes had ratings of four or five stars and by 2013 over 50% had exceedingly high ratings. With more than 15,000 nursing homes in the United States, it is crucial that the optimal quality of care is guaranteed by skilled nursing facilities. 

Beginning January 2015, the new nursing home evaluation system will closely examine each nursing home and evaluate aspects that contribute to elder abuse. The Los Angeles Times explains, “Nursing homes will have to begin reporting their staffing levels quarterly using an electronic system that can be verified with payroll data.”  Additionally, quality of care evaluations filled out by residents will be collected to ensure all information is as accurate as possible.

Additionally, nursing homes will adhere to random in house evaluations to better evaluate the quality of care. These evaluations will examine the number of falls that occur quarterly, the percentage of patients that have acquired pressure ulcers while residing at the nursing home, and the percentage of patients being administered antipsychotic medications. Antipsychotic medications are often used inappropriately “to help sedate residents with dementia, even though doing so can be dangerous.” These medications have the potential to be fatal; the Los Angeles Times states, “20.3% of long term nursing home residents currently receive such medications,” which is an alarming large percentage due to the severity of the medications.

The administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, Marilyn Tavenner, hopes that this new rating system will improve the quality of care for nursing home residents. Ms. Tavenner stated, “We are focused on using as many tools as are available to promote quality improvement and better outcomes for better Medicare beneficiaries.”

This new rating system will ensure that nursing homes are held responsible for the welfare of their residents. Although adequate quality of care should be a guarantee, many residents suffer from nursing home abuse and neglect. The Law Offices of Ben Yeourshalmi, an elite elder abuse and neglect firm, will defend the rights that you and your loved ones are entitled too. If you believe your loved one is a victim of abuse, please contact us immediately for a free consultation.