Pervasive Home-Ratings At the Crux of Nursing Home Issue

Saul Gruber, Esq.

New evidence reveals that Medicare nursing home ratings, the most referred to and mistakenly trusted measurement for quality elder care, are dangerously misleading.

Why? There are three criterion for grading a nursing home, one of which involves  an outside health inspection, the other two are self-reported. It’s no surprise that in 50 homes on a federal watch list, most had 4 or 5 stars in the areas they could rate themselves (like incidents of falls or bedsores), but overwhelmingly received rates of 1 or 2 stars in the area of independent inspection (NY TIMES).

The value of the Medicare badge of honor (much like that give to 5-star hotels) is undeniable. Trusting the name Medicare, consumers trust the accolade without knowing that the criterion for earning it are not fully reviewed by Medicare. In fact, it is an honors system taken advantage of by big players: nursing home companies are given the ability to fudge their rating and gain from the false marketing. Beyond lying about the quality of their homes and number of incidents that occur, there is far less incentive to invest  in labor and quality care–it simply doesn’t matter to their score. The true data on damage, injury, and death of loved ones from such poor care is shoved under the rug and given a new face. At the end of the day, negligent nursing homes continue to make millions of dollars by promoting themselves falsely, while consumers and their loved ones pay a heartbreaking price.

Notably, Medicare ratings do not include other negative reports filed by state authorities or consumers. Unbeknownst to most consumers,  homes with 3 or even 5 star ratings may have  faced wrongful death lawsuits, settlements, or fines for involvement in  patient deaths. Still, the 5-star rating system prevails and may even foray into other health care branches including hospitals, home health care systems, and dialysis centers.

If you are considering a nursing home for your loved one or are concerned that they are an unsafe residence, read our post on how to choose the best nursing home.

If your loved one has been harmed or neglected in a nursing home or place of assisted living, reach out to an attorney for help. You may be able to explore legal options.

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