Complaints involving residents receiving poor care at nursing homes reportedly increased by 33 percent during 2011 and 2015 compared to previous years. To make matters worse, this alleged increase came at a time when the number of residents living in these long-term care facilities experienced a decrease.
Data compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) also shows that many of the investigations launched into these complaints by state Medicaid or Medicare administrators was delayed.
Federal Medicare and Medicaid guidelines generally require any complaints involving any suspected "immediate jeopardy" for the resident to be investigated within two days of its filing. This terminology is used among these certified assisted living facilities to refer to a resident's death or serious injuries.
In "high priority" cases, or ones that threaten a resident's physical or mental health, federal guidelines require an investigation to commence within 10 days.
Poor quality of care became the No. 1 reason for nursing home complaints that were filed. Among one of the most egregious incidents of this type that was reported was a situation from 2015. In that case, a diabetic patient died after the nursing home failed to provide staff with testing strips to measure the patient's glucose levels. The second most popular reason complaints were filed was in suspected cases of neglect.
Of all the states, Georgia and Tennessee both routinely failed to launch investigations into immediate jeopardy complaints within the prescribed two-day window. These two states also happened to be responsible for at least 86 percent of all tardy investigations of this type during this time frame.
As for high priority complaints, Tennessee, Maryland, Arizona and New York were the four states that responded the slowest to resident complaints of this type. In these states, investigations were often not initiated until 26 days after they were first reported. These instances accounted for as much as 66 percent of all cases during this period.
DHHS data shows that at least 31 percent of all high priority cases were ultimately substantiated.
If you suspect that your loved one suffered injuries or died due to poor care he or she received at the hands of his or her nursing home staff, then a Tucson nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can advise you of your legal options.
Source: Skilled Nursing News, "Nursing home complaints up 33%, some states slow to respond," Alex Spanko, Sep. 29, 2017