The federal government announced last week that nursing homes across America would be rated using a new quality-rating system. The government rates over 16,000 nursing homes each year on the Nursing Home Compare Website. Three different categories are used to evaluate nursing homes, including health inspection scores, staffing and QA processes in place.
In the past, nursing homes were required to report their staffing levels only once year, under the new system, they will be reporting on a quarterly basis. The data that they provide will also be verified with payroll data.
Currently, the rating system does not accurately reveal the number of staff working at each facility. The new rating criteria are likely to decrease the number of four and five-star ratings that are handed out to many facilities.
Fraud on the part of the nursing homes is part of the reason that the new criteria were instituted. Nursing homes have been found to over report their staffing levels and fudge other numbers in order to either get four or five-star ratings from the government.
The new criteria will also rate nursing homes on how frequently they prescribe antipsychotic drugs. Recent reports of nursing home abuse has revealed that the drugs are over-prescribed to residents who suffer from dementia. The federal government seeks to reduce the use of antipsychotic medications by 30 percent as compared to the levels in 2011.
Under the new ratings, the top 10 percent of nursing homes in each state, as defined by those that have the least number of deficiencies, will be awarded five stars by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The middle 70 percent of all nursing homes will be awarded two, three or four stars, while the bottom 20 percent will get a one-star rating.
According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the majority of the nursing homes in our county are either average or below average. There are 13 nursing home facilities in Forsyth County.
This is particularly concerning if you have a loved one in a nursing home. If you see signs of nursing home abuse, contact the compassionate lawyers at Lewis & Keller.