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CMS To Add Consumer Alert Warning To Nursing Home Facilities Cited For Abuse And Neglect

Long-term care facilities that have been cited for nursing home abuse and neglect will soon be identified with a consumer alert icon placed on a federal nursing home rating website, according to regulators.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a press release on October 7, indicating that it will employ a special icon on its Nursing Home Compare website, which will allow consumers to identify facilities associated with abusive or substandard care. The move is part of a continuing effort to better equip families and patients with information to choose the correct nursing facility.

The nursing home compare website informs consumers on whether facilities meet federal standards with respect to health and safety compliance inspections, staffing levels, and quality measure performance. In the past, potential patients and families had to undergo a difficult multi-step process to retrieve abuse and neglect reports filed against a facility.

With the new icon, which will begin to appear on the website on October 23, the CMS claims families will instantly see whether facilities have been cited by inspectors for instances resulting in abuse which harmed a resident within the past year or abuse which could have potentially led to the harm of a resident in each of the last two years. That data will come from both federal and state investigations and fines.

Earlier this year, CMS announced it would be partnering with State Survey Agencies (SSAs) to oversee nursing homes, since these agencies are generally also responsible for state licenses. CMS stated the agency’s overall goal is to keep nursing home residents safe by implementing strategies based on five “pillars”: strengthening oversight, enhancing enforcement, increasing transparency, improving quality and putting patients over paperwork.

In June, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report warning that many skilled nursing homes are failing to report injuries sustained by the residents in accordance with federal requirements.

The OIG found that about 20% of Medicare beneficiaries treated in emergency rooms in 2016 were a nursing home resident suffering from injuries arising from potential abuse or neglect occurring at their facility. 

The OIG report called for CMS to take action immediately to better identify and respond to neglect and abuse incidents arising at nursing home facilities. The agency recommended retraining State Survey Agencies on how to identify and report incidents and to provide a detailed guidance with examples of potential abuse or neglect common to nursing homes.

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