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August 2017

Nursing Home Patient Care Problems Continue Despite Oversight

Washington Watch


Despite efforts at stricter oversight by the federal government, nursing homes that have come under intense scrutiny often slide back into providing dangerous care, a new analysis of federal inspection data reveals.


Federal inspectors look for repeated safety violations, and when a nursing home facility is deemed dangerous, it is labeled a “special focus facility” (SFF). Since 2005, there have been 900 nursing homes that have been put on this watch list and are deemed some of the poorest facilities. Designated as a special focus facility requires the nursing home to either fix lapses in care while under increased inspections or be stripped of federal funding by Medicare and Medicaid – a financial deprivation few homes can survive.


The number of nursing homes under special focus at any given time has dropped by nearly half since 2012, because of federal budget cuts. In 2017, the federal government designated 88 nursing homes with this designation and put $2.6 million devoted to fix the issues. But federal regulators identified 435 facilities as warranting scrutiny.


An analysis by reporter Jordan Rau at Kaiser Health News (KHN), found that even with this high-risk designation, many of these facilities lapse back into problems years later. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) defends the program saying it is working to ensure nursing homes do not regress in their performance.


Of the 528 nursing homes that graduated from special focus status before 2014 and are still operating, slightly more than half – 52 percent – have since harmed patients or put patients in serious jeopardy within the past three years, the KHN analysis showed. These nursing homes are in 46 of the 50 states. .


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Let's Trade Places For a Moment

Laverne’s View


I was sitting in my favorite Japanese restaurant, alone, doing the two things I love most: eating sushi and eavesdropping. Two men, probably in their mid-50s, were seated in a booth behind me, discussing their mothers. Their conversation was so absorbing that I grabbed pen and pad from my purse and began taking notes.


“She drives me crazy,” said Son #1. “She calls every f - - -ing day, complaining that I don’t call. I asked what difference it makes who does the calling if we speak every day? But, she wants me to call her. And, each time we speak, she needs a full report of that day’s activities. I dread hearing the phone ring. I mean – I love her, but I don’t have time for this crap. She needs to get a life."


“That’s gotta be tough on you. I guess she’s lonely since your dad died,” said Son #2.


“She plays bridge on Wednesdays, and the senior bus takes her to the market once a week, so I doubt she’s lonely.”


Every woman’s fantasy life.


“Does she drive?”


“No more. Her eyesight isn’t great, so after she had a near miss on the road, we took her keys. She wasn’t happy about it.”


“Hey, I get it. What choice did you have?”


Touch my car keys and you’re dead.


“She’d like to move to a senior retirement place. The one she wants is 50 minutes away. Too far. Besides, I hear a lot of sex goes on in those places. Not really the environment I want my mother exposed to.”


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