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  • Writer's pictureLeitner Varughese Warywoda

The Nursing Home Star System and Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits

When adult children are struggling over a decision about whether or not to move an elderly parent into a nursing home, it can be difficult to know with any kind of certainty whether a facility in New York is safe and if it will be a healthy environment in which patients are provided with routine quality care. For many American consumers who are shopping around for nursing homes for elderly loved ones, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Five-Star Quality Rating System, which was implemented in 2019, following on an earlier version of the system, was supposed to demystify the process of finding a safe nursing home and avoiding nursing home negligence.

Yet according to a recent investigation by The New York Times, the star system “is broken” and cannot provide an accurate portrait of nursing home quality of care. As such, even if your elderly loved one has been living in a highly rated facility, it is critical to seek advice from a New York nursing home negligence attorney about filing a lawsuit.

The Nursing Home Star System is Not Accurate

As the investigation points out, the CMS star system ultimately has “provided a badly distorted picture of the quality of care at the nation’s nursing homes” given that many of these facilities “relief on sleight-of-hand maneuvers to improve their ratings and hide shortcomings that contributed to the damage when the pandemic struck.”

What is some of the most recent evidence that the star rating system has not been a safe bet for families seeking out facilities that would provide quality care to seniors? When it comes to COVID-19 deaths and infection-control measures, The New York Times determined that “people at five-star facilities were roughly as likely to die of the disease as those at one-star homes.”

Problem of Self-Reported Data

One of the major problems with the star system, according to the investigation, is that it relies in part on self-reported data from the facilities and staffing information, both of which are easily manipulated for purposes of earning a high star number.

The New York Times investigation of the data being reported to CMS by nursing homes showed that the information is frequently incorrect, and inaccurately reported data “makes the homes seem cleaner and safer than they are.” Nursing homes have also made their facilities appear to be better staffed than they are, suggesting a much better staff-to-patient ratio than what occurs in practice. Staffing data can be manipulated in various ways, such as by citing “employees who are on vacation,” according to the investigation. Moreover, the data supplied by nursing homes to produce the star ratings rarely leads to government audits. As such, inaccurate information is not identified and addressed.

Seek Advice From a New York Nursing Home Negligence Attorney

Regardless of whether your elderly loved one has been residing at a five-star or one-star facility, it is essential to seek advice from a New York nursing home negligence lawyer if you have concerns about elder abuse or neglect. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC today to learn more about filing a claim.

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