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Serious Nursing Home Violations Are Often Hidden From the Public

Senior woman in a wheelchair alone in a room

A Mobile, Alabama nursing home abuse lawyer explains how the system works

Many serious nursing home violations are never revealed to the public, according to a scathing, in-depth investigation conducted by The New York Times. As a result, the public often does not know if nursing home abuse or neglect has occurred in a facility.

“How do they get away with that?” said Tammy Bowman, whose sister died in a nursing home. “I feel like you can’t hide something like that when we’re talking about somebody’s life.”

How does the nursing home rating system work?

Many families choose nursing homes based on their 5-star rating. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal agency, gives each nursing home nationwide a star rating. The best nursing homes receive 5 stars, while the worst nursing homes receive 1 star.

Medicare reportedly bases its 5-star CMS rating on a nursing home’s safety record and the quality of its services. As a result, such grades should take into account any safety violations, understaffing at nursing homes, or incidents of abuse or neglect.

However, The New York Times investigation discovered that CMS does not include many serious nursing home abuse and neglect violations when the federal agency determines a nursing home's 5-star rating. As a result, some nursing homes receive a high grade despite serious violations.

Why are some nursing home violations not disclosed to the public?

The main reason why many nursing home abuse or neglect violations are not included in a nursing home’s CMS 5-star score is that the nursing home filed an appeal, The New York Times reported.

Other times, serious violations – including sexual assault, staffing shortages, or unsanitary conditions – are not included when calculating a nursing home’s CMS score due to “what regulators describe as a technical glitch,” according to The New York Times.

As a result, families might choose a nursing home based on its high CMS grade, even though the facility has serious violations. And if that happens, a loved one could become another victim of nursing home abuse or neglect.

How do I know if a nursing home is safe?

If families cannot trust a nursing home’s CMS grade, how do they know if a nursing home is safe? Often, the best way to know is to ask nursing home officials questions, such as:

  • How often do you clean the nursing home?
  • How many nurses or doctors do you have on staff?
  • What type of training do your employees receive?

In addition, families should visit the nursing home in person. Look around. Does the facility look clean? Do you notice many staff members there? Talk to residents living in the nursing home as well. What do they think of the facility? Do they look happy? Healthy? Trust your eyes and ears.

Legal help is available

You might think you don’t need an attorney if a family member is abused or neglected in a nursing home. Many states have state agencies that investigate allegations of nursing home abuse or neglect. In Alabama, the state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsmen investigate such allegations.

But it’s important to understand the scope of their investigation. Their investigation simply focuses on whether the nursing home violated state or federal regulations. They are not concerned with whether your family receives financial compensation for your loved one’s expenses, which can add up fast, especially due to medical bills.

The dedicated legal team at Braswell Murphy, LLC in Mobile can help you every step of the way. Our law firm knows how to hold negligent nursing homes and assisted living facilities accountable for their actions, and we will fight for the justice you and your family deserve.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Alabama nursing home abuse attorney.

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