Report: 560 lowest-ranking nursing homes fail to improve

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Feb 24, 2012 in Nursing Home Injury or Death

In effort to prevent nursing home neglect and abuse, the federal government began rating the nation's nursing homes on a scale of one to five stars in 2008. Earlier this month, USA Today reported that 560 nursing homes with one-star ratings have not improved over the past three years.

Nine of these lowest-ranking nursing homes are located in West Virginia, and two are found in Charleston, USA Today reported. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it applies a one-star rating to nursing homes that rank "much below average" when compared to other homes in the same state.

A few characteristics of a one-star rating include equipment and linens that are consistently dirty, mistreatment of patients and unlicensed caregivers or workers. These are all attributes that can put nursing home patients at risk of injury or neglect.

Under the system, nursing homes are inspected about once a year and a rating is awarded based on a variety of factors, including the amount of time staff spends with patients and the quality of care that is administered.

After the rating system was initially introduced, many nursing homes protested, calling it unfair. However, some consumer advocates say that a rating system helps promote quality of care, which can drastically shift in nursing home settings.

Thankfully, the USA Today report concluded that quality of care has improved on average over the past two years. Since 2009, the total number of nursing homes rated with either one or two stars slightly declined while the number of homes rated with four or five stars slightly increased.

However, hundreds of nursing homes, including several in West Virginia, still have a long way to go to reach an acceptable rating. Hopefully, these nursing homes will decide to put the safety and well being of their patients first.

Source: USA Today, "As nursing home care improves, some problems slow to mend," Paul Monies, Feb. 10, 2012

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