As our loved ones age or have a chronic and disabling illness, it is a difficult but often necessary decision to turn to nursing homes and long-term care facilities to assist. While many people are totally justified and comfortable entrusting their loved ones to a high-quality facility, recent disturbing news about some Louisville area nursing facilities emphasize the need to proceed cautiously when choosing any nursing or long-term care facility.
Over $500,000 in fines was levied against eight long-term care facilities in Louisville for deficiencies in patient care in 2013. At least one deficiency was noted last year in 45 out of the 46 Louisville facilities, and state inspectors found 276 deficiencies in all in 2013.
State inspectors from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) conduct annual, unscheduled visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities throughout the Commonwealth. Inspectors evaluate the quality of patient care, and whether nursing homes and long-term care facilities comply with state licensing and with federal certification requirements if they are Medicare and Medicaid-participating facilities. Violations of federal certification requirements result in a “deficiency” finding.
Four severity levels ranging from Level 1 to Level 4 categorize “deficiencies”. Level 4 deficiencies are the most serious offenses deemed to put residents in “immediate jeopardy” of injury, harm, impairment or death, and require immediate corrective action.
Eight Louisville facilities were fined a total of $526,469 in 2013, with four of those facilities sighted and fined for “immediate jeopardy” deficiencies.
According to Aon Risk Solutions’ 2012 actuarial report, the average annual liability of a 100-bed nursing home in the United States is $154,000. In Kentucky, the average annual liability per 100-bed facility is $535,000, almost 5 times the national average!
To compare, the CMMS 2012 Nursing Home Compare database showed seven states had no fines whatsoever, 25 states with fines of less than $50,000.00 and only nine states besides Kentucky and North Carolina with fines of over $100,000.00.
In fact, Kentucky nursing homes were fined over $2,000,000.00 in 2012 and ranked #1 in the country in fines assessed. A distant second, North Carolina was fined a little over $1,000,000.00 in 2012.
Furthermore, the Families for Better Care, a non-profit residents’ advocacy group, rated Kentucky 40th in the nation, with a grade of “D” for patient care in 2013, noting 20% of Kentucky facilities were found to have “severe deficiencies” in the quality of patient care.
The bottom line for concerned family members: be informed about the facility in which you or your loved one resides or that you are considering and do your homework about the quality of patient care. State inspection reports are open records and available for anyone to review. The reports detail any deficiencies found, the severity and frequency of deficiencies, whether the deficiencies were corrected, and any fines assessed.
Follow this link for the 2013 Nursing Home Survey Inspection Findings for all nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the Commonwealth. http://chfs.ky.gov/os/oig/LTCinspectionfindings.htm
Another excellent resource to evaluate all Medicare and Medicaid-participating facilities is Nursing Home Compare at http://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html.
Nursing Home Compare is a nationwide database that includes information about the last three state inspection reports, complaints filed and deficiencies found in nursing home throughout the United States. You can also compare and evaluate all Medicare and Medicaid-participating hospitals and home health agencies.
And if you or a loved one is injured, neglected or abused in a Kentucky nursing home or long-term care facility, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help answer your questions and to protect your rights.