Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 1.6 million people currently reside in nursing homes across the United States. Although we want to believe that these facilities are safe and reliable, they have a long history of problems. The methods in which nursing homes across the United States are rated have covered up long-term and deep-rooted problems, rendering systems unprepared to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Around twelve years ago, the government of the United States introduced a powerful tool that helps grade various components of nursing homes. This five-star system was designed to rank nursing homes from best to worst, allowing families the ability to best choose a facility for their loved ones. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the rating system played a critical role in informing families how safe their loved ones could be during these unprecedented times. However, despite years of warnings, the government-designed system fell short of providing people with a true view of what to expect from each facility.
Nursing Homes Data Analyzed
More than 130,000 people in nursing homes have died since the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020. An analysis conducted by the New York Times found unpleasant trends surrounding nursing homes in the United States during the pandemic. The New York Times reviewed more than 373,000 reports surrounding 15,000 nursing homes and on-site examination reports performed by state health inspectors. The truth of the matter is that people in five-star facilities were just as likely to die from the disease as those within one-star facilities.
After reviewing the information in the reports, the Times found that:
- The bulk of information submitted to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is wrong. In nearly all circumstances, the information falsely boosted the rankings of cleanliness and safety in the facilities.
- A lot of facilities presented inflated staffing levels by including employees who were on vacation. Facilities went out of their way to hide the number of patients taking dangerous antipsychotic medications and those who suffer adverse health complications.
- Those with self-reported data are most likely to flunk in-person inspections. However, the nursing home data was rarely audited by the government.
- At least some of the facilities knew in advance when inspections were going to occur, which allowed them to prepare.
There were many instances where five-star facilities masked serious problems like residents developing bedsores that exposed their bones, rodent infestations, and other dangerous conditions.
What is Driving the Negligence?
Facilities that have higher ratings in the five-star system receive more funding from the government. This often drives workers to improperly rank their facilities to boost their rankings. The study found that in 2019, facilities with five-star ratings were provided $2,000 in profits per bed. Those with three and four-star rankings were provided only $1,000. Those with poor rankings were found to be generally unprofitable.
This alarming trend among self-reported facilities went widely unnoticed, considering the fact that the majority of nursing homes did not receive adequate in-person inspections to verify the self-reported information. Given the fact that these facilities functioned in this manner before the pandemic, it is no surprise that the dangers surrounding patients only increased after the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. As a result, many people lost their lives unnecessarily due to the negligence of nursing home employees and the overall unpreparedness of these facilities.
If You Have Lost a Loved One
Losing a loved one under any circumstance can be devastating. However, knowing that they lost their life due to the negligent practices of long-term care facilities can make the situation even more unbearable. When victims lose their lives due to facilities being unprepared, taking inadequate actions to sure their residents, and endangering those who depended on them, they can be held accountable. If you have lost a loved one in a nursing home facility as a result of COVID-19 in the Cleveland area, contact our wrongful death attorneys in Ohio at (216) 777-5756 at your earliest convenience. Our team is available to discuss the options available for you.