Nursing Homes Substantially Underreport Falls and Bedsores
Nursing home rating systems are a crucial tool in finding a safe, reliable facility for your elderly loved one. However, a 2023 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that nursing homes in the United States underreport resident falls and bedsores requiring hospitalization.
These findings cast doubt on the reliability of these rating systems and highlight potential dangers to nursing home residents in California and across the U.S. Reviewing the study results and what they could mean for your elderly loved one can help you protect their rights if neglect or abuse occurs.
Underreporting of Falls and Bedsores in Nursing Homes
The May 2023 JAMA study assessed the quality of life in 13,179 nursing homes nationwide. The study used data from more than 131,000 residents over six years, from 2011 to 2017.
The study revealed that resident falls and bedsores leading to hospitalization are significantly underreported nationwide. 69% of nursing homes have less than 80% reporting rates for falls, and 71.7% of facilities have less than 80% reporting rates for pressure ulcers.
The lowest reporting rates for falls were 33% and 34.2% for bedsores. The reporting rate for major injury falls resulting in hospitalizations was only 60%, while the reporting rate for stage 3 and 4 pressure ulcers was 67.7%.
The study also found that fall rates were 2.2 to 2.5 times higher for white residents than black residents within the same facility, and pressure ulcer rates were 1.8 to 2.5 times higher for black residents than white residents in the same facilities.
Despite federal reporting requirements, these findings suggest that nursing home facilities failed to report thousands of falls and pressure ulcer injuries to the government. The worrying lack of transparency in nursing homes raises concerns about the reliability of the current rating system.
What This Means for California Nursing Home Residents and Their Families
Falls and bedsores are critical incidents that nursing homes must report to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as part of its 5-star rating system. The 5-star rating program is an essential tool designed to help families make well-informed choices about nursing homes for their loved ones.
The rating system assesses nursing homes based on health inspections, staffing levels, quality measures, and reported incidents such as falls and bedsores. It provides a transparent and standardized rating system, enabling families to compare facilities objectively through the Care Compare website.
Ideally, families can rely on the ratings to identify nursing homes with higher quality care and safety standards. This system makes it easier to place their loved ones in a secure and compassionate environment.
However, when nursing home facilities inaccurately report data, it can artificially inflate their scores. Consistently low rating accuracy for each facility undermines the integrity of the rating system. It also means that families looking for quality care for their loved ones may be unable to understand a facility’s true care quality or comfort level.
Without accurate ratings, families may choose an unsafe facility for their elderly relative, despite their best efforts to make an informed choice.
Identifying Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
When you place a family member, a friend, or a loved one in a nursing home, you entrust their care to the facility and its staff. However, some facilities may fail in their duty to care for your loved ones, resulting in nursing home injuries due to neglect, abuse, or mistreatment.
Looking for signs and evidence of abuse is crucial to build your case and prove the nursing care’s responsibility.
Signs to Look For
Common signs of abuse and neglect toward a nursing home’s residents include the following:
- Fall injury symptoms: Fractures, back pain, bruises, scrapes, and muscular numbness can all result from nursing home falls.
- Bedsore symptoms: Bedsore symptoms can include discolored (e.g., red, purple, white) or swollen skin, cuts, shallow wounds, infections, and foul odors.
- Behavioral indicators: Behavioral changes that may indicate abuse or neglect include agitation, non-responsiveness to stimuli, severe disruption to eating or sleeping patterns, anxiety, depression, and fear around specific staff members.
- Other neglect symptoms: Neglect symptoms may include unsanitary living conditions, inadequate clothing, poor personal hygiene, poor or insufficient diet, or over- or under-medication.
Many of these signs and symptoms can be unexplained, especially if your family member or loved one has no recollection of a fall. If the nursing home’s staff cannot explain your loved one’s injuries, bedsores, or other worrying signs, it may be due to a lack of proper care or monitoring of their health and well-being.
Seeking the Help of a Nursing Home Neglect Attorney
While finding any of these signs or symptoms in your elderly loved one can be distressing, you don’t have to face this situation alone. An assisted living facility negligence law firm such as Berberian Ain LLP has the resources to protect your loved one’s rights and dignity with the care, expertise, and compassion you deserve.
Our team can help you with the following if you suspect your elderly family member is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect:
- Gathering evidence: We will help you investigate the nursing home facility and staff. Our team can assist you in collecting the evidence needed to demonstrate the abuse and neglect that occurred. We can help you gather documents like medical records, injury photographs, and witness statements to build your case. We can also help you find the facility’s previous state and federal inspection records for evidence of past regulatory violations.
- Contacting the authorities: We can help you contact authorities such as local law enforcement or the California Department of Public Health to report the facility. Reports can help initiate investigations and ensure the assisted living facility is held accountable.
- Communicating and advising you with care: We will communicate throughout the legal process, from the initial consultation to the case resolution. We will explain your loved one’s rights, provide compassionate guidance and support, and detail all available legal options. We aim to be the reassuring presence you and your loved ones need until the case’s resolution.
- Obtain compensation: Berberian Ain LLP fights on behalf of nursing home abuse victims until we obtain maximum compensation for all damages suffered due to a fall, bedsores, or other injuries. We will consider all costs incurred, from medical expenses to pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
- Represent you in court: If necessary, our team will provide you and your loved one with full legal representation in a court of law. While a legal battle can be emotionally challenging, Berberian Ain’s expert lawyers will stand by your side and provide strong legal representation during the court process. We will work tirelessly and fight on your loved one’s behalf until we reach a settlement or a verdict in your favor.
Berberian Ain LLP Can Help Nursing Home Abuse Victims
Berberian Ain LLP is an expert team of elder abuse and neglect lawyers. Our firm has a long history of protecting the rights of California clients in cases of nursing home abuse, personal injury, and medical malpractice. If you or a loved one has suffered from fractures, bedsores, and other injuries as a nursing home resident, we can help you secure the compensation you need.
Let our skilled lawyers help your loved ones in need. Contact our offices today to schedule a free consultation.