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New Tool to Warn Consumers of Nursing Homes Cited for Abuse and Neglect

Today, there are more than 15,000 nursing homes in the United States. With so many options, how can you determine the best facility for your loved ones?

The Centers for Medicare and & Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal agency involved in administering Medicare/Medicaid payments and setting standards for long-term care facilities, wants to help. CMS has announced that it will begin displaying a red consumer alert icon on its website designed to warn members of the public of nursing home facilities that have been cited for neglect, abuse, or exploitation. Consumers will be able to see these icons on CMS’ website when comparing nursing homes in their area.

In addition to promoting transparency, the move seeks to “empower consumers to make the right decisions for themselves and their loved ones.” According to the CDC, nearly 1.5 million Americans live in nursing homes. However, more than 10 million Americans need some form of long-term care or assistance performing daily activities. Sometimes, families are unable to deliver the level of care a loved one needs. In those cases, a nursing home is the only option. Finding the right nursing home can be challenging.

CMS has 10 regional offices, spread throughout the country. When it comes to nursing homes, CMS establishes national standards for patient care, healthcare, best practices, and billing, among others. Nursing home residents have basic rights, and federal agents and investigators diligently seek to make sure their rights are not violated. For example, each resident of a nursing home has the right of dignity and respect. Nursing homes should not abuse those rights in any way shape or form. CMS defines abuse as “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain or mental anguish.” Abuse encompasses many forms such as verbal, sexual, physical, mental, and emotional.

CMS maintains a website specifically dedicated to letting consumers compared nursing homes in their area. The decision of where to place a loved one is not one to be made lightly. It can be hard to make the right choice simply by visiting a home and looking at their promotional material. Thus, the CMS website is a highly valuable tool for members of the public. The website rates nursing home facilities in several categories. These include health and fire safety inspections, staffing levels, quality control, issues and resident care, and issues relating to abuse. Nursing homes are also given an overall score. CMS used to update their information quarterly, but now will seek to update the icons monthly. This will allow members of the public to access more up to date information, which will in turn allow them to make better decisions for their loved one’s care.

If you suspect your loved one is being abuse in a nursing home, there are several steps you can take. First, you can always speak with the nursing home administrator to report concerns and ask for their plan to properly address them. If you suspect an emergency or criminal activity, you should call 911 or your local police department. States have their own hotlines for reporting elderly abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Another option suggested by CMS is contacting the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, a program with advocates for nursing home residents who are trained to answer questions, help resolve issues, address concerns, and point residents in the right direction if they face problems.

If your loved one has suffered traumatic injuries in a nursing home, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 800-529-4004 or complete our confidential form. Our nursing home abuse lawyers take pride in helping injured people seek justice. We recognize the trust that people place in nursing homes to deliver proper care to elderly and sick residents, and we unfortunately see what happens when that trust is abused. For a free and confidential consultation, contact our law firm today. We have offices in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri.