Abuse allegations rarely get nursing homes shut down

It's not all that uncommon for either Medicare or Medicaid to threaten nursing homes with a loss of federal funding if they fail to pass mandatory inspections of their facilities. In fact, few institutions can afford to exist without taking on residents with this type of coverage.

Therefore, when one of these long-term assisted living homes gets placed in "special focus facility" status, most quickly look to remedy lapses in care that got them in trouble in the first place.

Under Medicare and Medicaid guidelines, each standard of care violation is accompanied by the assessment of a fine. When a facility is under the strict oversight of a federal agency, the goal is to ensure that the facility does not revert back into offering a dangerous level of care.

According to a recent study conducted by Kaiser Health News, more than 528 nursing homes across 46 states were successful in bringing their facilities up to standards before 2014 began. Of those, 52 percent are alleged to return to harming patients within three years of having been removed from that list.

Among the safety standards many of the "special focus" facilities were said to have failed to uphold include grievances such as staff doing little to nothing to quash bullying or violence directed at residents and staff. They also include staff giving residents wrong medications or failing to report their injuries to either physicians or family members as well.

Even when facilities improve their status, they continue to be plagued by staff shortages, particularly of registered nurses.

Despite threats to withdraw federal funding, few facilities actually ever have it happen to them. Even worse, once removed from the watch list, they are rarely put back on it again.

In fact, some watchdog groups point out that most continue operating even in the face of having multiple penalties open against them. States are the ones with the real authority to revoke the operations permits for the facilities, but it's unclear as to how often that occurs.

If your loved one has suffered an injury while living at an Arizona nursing home, then a Tucson nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can help. In doing so, he or she can advise you of your right to recover medical and rehabilitation costs for your loved one. This can go a long ways in protecting future residents from suffering the same fate.

Source: The Day, "Half the time, nursing homes scrutinized by Medicare still treacherous," Jordan Rau, July 27, 2017

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