Many seniors call Florida home. Aside from native residents, thousands
of retirees migrate to the state every year to enjoy the warm climate
and sunny skies.
However, if those seniors experience an acute health problem, a recent
article in The New York Times suggests that they may have trouble finding
adequate short-term nursing home care.
Not only that, but they may be lured into selecting facilities that tout
luxury amenities while, in reality, providing substandard,
negligent nursing home care.
Many Facilities Put Profit before Patient Safety
According to the
Times, today's nursing homes are chasing after Medicare dollars at the expense
of the residents who fill their beds.
The reason: Medicare pays 84 percent more for short-term patients than
what they would get from Medicaid, the government program that covers
The result: Patients expecting a few weeks' rehabilitation in comfort
run the risk of re-hospitalization for conditions stemming from negligent care.
report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 22 percent
of patients who rehabbed in a nursing home for 35 days or less were harmed
as a result of their care. The study determined 59 percent of those adverse
events were "clearly or likely preventable."
Examples of nursing home negligence discussed in the report included:
- Medication errors
- Improper hygiene
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Urinary tract infections associated with catheters.
Doctors say that patients who need short-term care after a procedure such
as a hip replacement still need intense medical supervision. They told
the Times that it is becoming even more crucial as hospitals are being
pushed to discharge patients more quickly to avoid penalties.
However, many of the same problems that have plagued long-term nursing
homes exist in short-term facilities such as nursing shortages and a high
turnover of aides to help with tasks such as turning patients and helping
them get to the bathroom.
Watch Out for 'The Chandelier Effect'
As nursing homes clamor for short-term patients, they are investing in
decorating lavish lobbies and offering promises such as hot baths on demand,
according to the Times article.
But beware of what geriatric specialists call "the chandelier effect"
- a beautiful appearance masking a facility that is ill-equipped to meet
a resident's needs.
Instead, it is important to do some research before settling on a nursing home.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services developed a
five-star rating system to evaluate quality-of-care issues at nursing homes nationwide, which
can be a helpful starting point for one's research.
The ratings system is based on:
- Health inspections
- Staffing ratios and how much time staff spends on each resident per day
- Quality measures.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration also provides consumers with an
online search tool to investigate quality-of-care findings at nursing facilities statewide.
While the ratings are a useful tool to narrow down one's nursing home
search, keep in mind that there is no substitute for visiting the facility.
Seeing the nursing home with one's own eyes can help to discover things
that ratings system cannot measure such as the look on residents'
faces as they interact with staff. One may also get a chance to pull aside
a resident or family member to ask for their opinions about the facility.
Finally, a person should consider the proximity of the home to family or friends.
Nursing Home Neglect Is Unacceptable
The attorneys at The Maher Law Firm are committed to restoring the health
and well-being of seniors who have been injured due to nursing home abuse
and negligence. We fight for our clients and strive to preserve the dignity
of vulnerable residents statewide. For a free consultation, call or connect with us