Nursing Home Deficiencies Frequently Overlooked

A report from the Government Accountability Office states that widespread deficiencies addressing malnutrition, bedsores, medication errors, and abuse of nursing home residents are often understated.

Congressional investigators have confirmed in the report something advocates for the elderly have known for sometime. That is, nursing home inspectors routinely miss, overlook, or minimize problems in nursing facilities that can pose a serious risk to patient health.

In California, nursing homes are inspected once a year by the Department of Public Health, which sets the licensing standards. The GAO report found that state employees missed at least one serious deficiency in 15% of the inspections audited by the federal government.

“Poor quality of care — worsening pressure sores or untreated weight loss — in a small but unacceptably high number of nursing homes continues to harm residents or place them in immediate jeopardy, that is, at risk of death or serious injury,” the report said.

The federal study was done at the request of Senators Charles E. Grassley and Herb Kohl who have introduced a bill to improve nursing home care in the United States, and increase the penalties for violations of federal standards.

The New York Times article can be found here. The GAO report is here (.pdf)