A Third of Nursing Homes Had Abuse Violations in 1999-2001
More than 30% of 5,283 nursing homes investigated by states over a two-year period ending in January were cited for abuse, according to a congressional review requested by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the Los Angeles Times reports. Problems cited by the report include physical and sexual abuse, untreated bedsores, inadequate medical care, malnutrition, dehydration and inadequate sanitation and hygiene (Trapps, Los Angeles Times, 7/31). The report, which examined annual inspections conducted by states and required by HHS, is the first investigation to comprehensively assess nursing home abuses by examining state inspections. More than 2,500 of the abuse violations in the last two years were "serious enough" to cause "actual harm" to residents or put them in "immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury," the report says. Ten percent of U.S. nursing homes, or 1,601 facilities, were cited for violations that caused actual harm to residents. More than 40% of abuse violations were discovered only after a formal complaint was filed, the report says (House Government Reform Committee minority staff, "Abuse of Residents is Major Problem in U.S. Nursing Homes," 7/30). The percentage of nursing home violations has increased every year since 1996; more than twice as many homes were cited for violations in 2000 as four years ago (Los Angeles Times, 7/31). Charles Roadman, president of the American Health Care Association, said, "When incidents of abuse occur in any nursing facility, those responsible must be held accountable for their actions. It's equally important that caregivers who, day in and day out, provide professional, compassionate care -- which is the norm -- receive the credit, support and attention they deserve" (Reuters/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/31). He added, "Recruiting, training and keeping frontline nursing staff are among the most important things we can do to ensure our patients continue to receive quality skilled nursing care" (AP/Baltimore Sun, 7/31). During a news conference yesterday to release the report Waxman announced the introduction of the Nursing Home Quality Protection Act, which would increase nursing home funding, establish nurse staffing levels, mandate criminal background checks for employees and increase the number of nursing home records on the Internet (Los Angeles Times, 7/31). But Bruce Rosenthal of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging "said Congress should focus on the troubled centers, rather than create cumbersome standards for all," USA Today reports (USA Today, 7/31). To read the report, go to http://www.house.gov/reform/min/nursinghomesabuse.html.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.