NURSING HOMES: Neglect, Abuse Still Prevalent
The General Accounting Office will release a report today revealing that the incidence of neglect and abuse in nursing homes has increased since President Clinton "launched a crackdown on problem" facilities, Cox News Service/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. According to the report, nearly 30% of the United States' 17,000 nursing homes "have been cited for harming their residents or for putting them in immediate jeopardy," compared to 28% before the enforcement began two years ago. The GAO wrote that the increase may have resulted from greater detection efforts, but a nationwide shortage of nurses "raise[s] concerns that the actual proportion of homes with deficiencies may have increased." Other findings from the report include the following:
- Although the Clinton administration called for more weekend and off-hour inspections of nursing homes, inspections in several states "continue to be predictable, allowing facilities to mask certain deficiencies if they choose to do so," according to the study;
- It will take two or three more years before much of the enforcement program can be carried out, and this will require "sustained" efforts;
- Monitoring for 60 facilities nationwide was increased due to a Clinton administration directive that called for states to examine more closely their "worst nursing homes." Of these, 12 dropped out of federal finance programs, roughly 50% were fined, and 28 are now "in substantial compliance" with federal standards.