Nursing Home Violations Found at 90% of Facilities

A new government report indicates that over 90% of all nursing homes are cited every year for violating federal safety standards. Many of the violations are designed to identify problems which could expose residents to a high risk of injury from nursing home neglect or abuse.

There are roughly 1.5 million people living in 16,000 nursing homes in the United States. These homes are supposed to be inspected by government officials at least once a year to ensure that they conform to federal regulations designed to ensure the safety of residents.

In a report released September 29, 2008 by the Department of Health and Human Services, the nature and extent of nursing home violations and complaints in 2007 were described and trends were identified from 2006 and 2007.

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The most common nursing home problems involved issues with quality of care, resident assessment and quality of life. In addition, 17% of nursing homes were cited for problems that caused actual harm or placed residents in immediate jeopardy of an injury, such as nursing home bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration or abuse.

“In each of the past 3 years, over 91 percent of nursing homes surveyed were cited for deficiencies and a greater percentage of for-profit nursing homes were cited for deficiencies than not-for-profit and government nursing homes,” wrote Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson in the memorandum report.

When looking only at nursing homes that are operated for a profit, the report indicates that 94% of the facilities were cited for deficiencies, compared to 88% seen among not-for-profit nursing homes and 91% at government nursing homes.

Commonly seen violations in 28% to 36% of nursing homes involved improper food distribution and storage, dangers from accidents and inadequate service.

Nursing homes are required to strictly adhere to certain federal standards to remain eligible for reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, the government health program for the poor. Without these government funds, most nursing homes are unable to stay in business.

To increase accountability within the nursing home industry, earlier this year, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) started to publicly identify the worst nursing homes in terms of performance during inspections.

Read the full nursing home report (PDF).

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