Why Nursing Home Offenses in Los Angeles County May Not be Reported to the Public

When families in Los Angeles County or elsewhere in Southern California are seeking information about nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities in the state, they often turn to the CMS star rating system and to publicly available information about safety violations. Yet according to a recent report in The New York Times, some of the worst offenses at nursing homes across the country might not be reported to the public. Why are serious nursing home abuse and neglect injuries hidden? The report suggests that a “secretive appeals process” prevents the public from getting the full picture. Our Los Angeles County nursing home abuse attorneys can tell you more. 

Serious Injuries are Not Factored Into the Star Rating System

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publishes information about nursing homes through its star rating system, which is supposed to provide the public with information about recent safety violations at nursing homes and harms suffered by elderly residents. Yet the recent report, which stems from a New York Times investigation, indicates that “at least 2,700 . . . dangerous incidents were not factored into the rating system.”

Those incidents included reports of elder abuse and neglect at various facilities, as well as cases of sexual assault. State inspectors discovered many of the unpublicized incidents, but they were not publicized. The New York Times learned about many of the incidents through public records requests, according to the report.

Appeals Processes Obscure Information About Abuse and Neglect

The report suggests that a key reason that serious incidents of abuse and neglect have been hidden from the public is the appeals process for nursing homes that have been cited for safety violations. Here is what The New York Times had to say: “On the rare occasions when inspectors issue severe citations, nursing homes can fight them through an appeals process that operates almost entirely in secret. If nursing homes don’t get the desired outcome via the informal review, they can appeal to a special federal court inside the executive branch. That process, too, is hidden from the public.”

While appeals are in progress, the citations do not tend to appear on Medicare’s Care Compare website or to show up in the star rating system. Further, even when the special federal court upholds a nursing home safety violation citation, the citations tend to be kept off the rating website. Indeed, according to the report, there are nursing homes with serious violations that have turned to the appeals process and had the citations upheld, but those facilities nonetheless have a five-star rating on Care Compare.

To put it another way, appealing a citation can give a nursing home a way to avoid, temporarily, public knowledge of a serious safety issue at the facility. Even if the nursing home loses its appeal, it may still avoid having the citation affect its CMS star rating, according to The New York Times.

Contact a Los Angeles County Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

Do you have questions about filing a claim against a nursing home for injuries resulting from abuse or neglect? Our Los Angeles County nursing home negligence attorneys can speak with you today about your case. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.


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