If you are seeking a nursing home in Los Angeles County and you are particularly concerned about risks of elder abuse or neglect at the facility, how can you determine whether you are selecting a nursing home that will provide a high quality of care for your elderly loved one? Families in Southern California and across the country go through this complicated process, and many of them turn to the star rating system provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). However, a recent investigation by The New York Times demonstrates that the CMS star system is significantly flawed, and it may not provide any kind of accurate picture of nursing home safety in California or elsewhere in the country.
What do you need to know about the CMS star system and the risks of using it to find a safe facility where your elderly parent or loved one will not suffer harm as a result of nursing home abuse?
Investigation by The New York Times Reveals Serious Flaws in CMS Nursing Home Star System
According to The New York Times, the CMS star rating system looks simple and user-friendly: “Using a simple star rating—one being the worst, five the best—the system promised to distill reams of information and transform an emotional process into one based on objective, government-blessed metrics.” Indeed, Americans in New York and across the country have relied on the star system to determine which nursing homes are safe for seniors. Yet the star system has not provided wholly accurate information about the safety and quality of care at nursing facilities across the country.
Even prior to the pandemic, the star ratings were tied largely in part to self-reported data from the nursing homes themselves, including manipulated information about staffing numbers and resident injuries. According to The New York Times, a significant amount of the information that is self-reported by nursing facilities and submitted to CMS for purposes of star ratings is simply wrong. In many instances, nursing homes are able to rely on reporting loopholes to suggest their staffing numbers are much higher than they actually are at any given point, and it is uncommon for federal investigators to conduct follow-up inspections to determine whether the self-reported data is accurate.
COVID-19 Reveals Stark Problems With Star Ratings
The investigation emphasizes that nursing homes across America have been “working to improve their ratings, but not their quality.” Unfortunately, those ratings and actual quality have become two very different things. During the pandemic, COVID-19 infections and deaths, as well as infection-control measures, have become clear indicators that the rating system is flawed.
According to The New York Times investigation, “[m]ore than 130,000 nursing home residents have died of COVID-19, and The Times’s analysis found that people at five-star facilities were roughly as likely to due of the disease as those at one-star homes.”
Contact a Los Angeles County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
It is critical to hold dangerous nursing homes accountable for resident injuries and deaths, and to move away from a focus on the nursing home’s CMS star rating. Serious and fatal injuries can occur at one-star and five-star facilities, and a Los Angeles nursing home abuse attorney at our firm can help you to move forward with a claim. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.
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