If you have an elderly loved one who recently required care in a hospital and now will need long-term care in a nursing home in Escondido, how do you know which facility will provide the best quality of care and does not have a history of nursing home abuse or neglect? According to a recent article from NPR, a potential change to the rules concerning Medicare and hospitals’ rights and responsibilities toward patients could mean that more hospitals, which often see elderly patients in Southern California and throughout the country, could provide helpful information to families struggling to select a quality nursing home in their budget.
Hospitals Required to Provide ‘Unrestricted’ Information About Nursing Homes
Up to this point, why have hospitals in San Diego County avoided giving patients and their families information about certain nursing homes that they believe can provide quality care? The article explains that “hospitals have long been reluctant to share with patients their assessments of which nursing homes are best because of a Medicare requirement that patients’ choices can’t be restricted.”
As a result of that requirement, hospitals largely have provided a facially neutral list of skilled nursing facilities—in other words, a list that does not make clear whether one facility might be better than another—and have only provided information particular to a facility when it concerns whether or not space is available. In other words, hospitals largely have not provided patients with information about the quality of a nursing home. Even if they know that a particular facility has received poor ratings in terms of quality from Medicare, or that the facility has been cited for violations by the California Department of Public Health, the hospital is reluctant to highlight that type of information.
Nancy Foster, the American Hospital Association vice president for quality and patient safety, indicated that “hospitals are not sure enough that it would be seen as appropriate and so they don’t want to take the chance that some surveyor will come around to cite them for violating Medicare’s rules.” What happens when hospitals fail to disclose this type of information? Much too often, a hospital patient will select a nursing home that has been cited for violations, and that patient may sustain injuries as a result of nursing home neglect.
How the New Rule Could Allow Hospitals to Guide Patients
The Obama administration drafted a rule in October 2015 that states hospitals “must assist the patients, their families, or the patient’s representative in selecting a post-acute care provider by using and sharing data” concerning the needs of the individual patient and the quality of care that she is likely to receive at a particular facility. The new rule would not only allow hospitals to share knowledge with patients about skilled nursing facilities, but about other post-hospital options, as well. For instance, in California, the rule might enable hospitals to provide quality of care information about assisted-living facilities or residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs).
The rule has not yet been finalized. If it is not finalized before President Obama’s term ends, it may not become a reality.
In the meantime, if you are concerned about a loved one’s quality of care at a nursing home or assisted-living facility in Southern California, an experienced Escondido nursing home abuse lawyer can answer your questions today. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.
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(image courtesy of Sam Wheeler)