Remember, if you have a loved one who is a resident in a nursing home, you have a duty to make sure that the staff looks out for his or her best interests.
Sadly, this is not always the case at some nursing homes. Each year, countless personal injury lawsuits are filed in the U.S. against facilities over claims including bedsores and malnutrition due to abuse or neglect, and issues like medical malpractice, poor medical care and/or prescription drug errors.
When you are picking out a nursing home for your loved one, it may be a good idea to visit the facility ahead of time and research its reputation. Additionally, if your loved one is already a resident at a facility, make sure you visit the site often to see firsthand how it is treating residents. By visiting a facility regularly, it may help ensure that your loved one gets quality care.
In addition to these things, you may want to check out a nursing home’s records through state and federal agencies. One way you can do this is by visiting Nursing Home Compare, a database that allows you to search by a facility’s zip code and name. Facilities included in this database are ones that receive government funding. To view the agency’s database, you can click here.
We bring up Nursing Home Compare because recently it was announced that the federal government would make the rating process for the database harder, as it was going to increase scrutiny over the use of anti-psychotic drugs at facilities.
As we reported in our blog last December, it is common for nursing home residents to be prescribed antipsychotic drugs to suppress anxiety or aggression. This has some patient advocates concerned, as they fear the drugs may be being used as “chemical restraints.” Eerily, in some cases, these drugs have black box warnings due to their links to heart failure, infections and death.
The changes to Nursing Home Compare will be reflected in ratings immediately. It should be noted that in Maryland, prior to the updated scores, of the 228 Maryland nursing homes listed in the database, 135 currently had an overall score of four or five stars, meaning they were ranked “above average” or better. If you thought your loved one’s facility score was high before, you may want to make sure the updated scores still reflect this.
Remember, if a nursing home contributes to your loved one’s injuries, you could potentially hold it liable through a lawsuit. It may be in your best interest to speak to an attorney when issues like abuse or neglect, or drug errors arise—your loved one should not have to suffer due to poor care.
Did You Know? Eighty-eight percent of Medicare claims for antipsychotic drugs prescribed in nursing homes are for treating symptoms of dementia.
Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP