It’s not uncommon for hospital patients to transfer to a nursing home. Their medical needs may no longer be urgent or intensive, but they are still ongoing and require additional care. However, it’s becoming apparent that many patients who are transferred from hospitals to nursing homes often end up going to some of the most poorly rated. A recent report from Kaiser Health News explains why.
As it turns out, many hospitals may be affiliated in some way with nursing homes in the region. Often, staffers are recommending these facilities to patients, without sharing information that is objective or their own personal knowledge about the quality.
This is deeply concerning when you consider what an important matter it is to choose the right nursing home. Nearly 40 percent of all licensed nursing home facilities nationally have been cited by federal health inspectors over the course of three years for conduct or operations that harm a patient or make certain injuries likely. Despite this, case managers at hospitals don’t share this information. They don’t tell patients or their families that there are better options. A recommendation from a doctor or nurse can be a powerful form of persuasion. This is why some nursing home abuse and neglect prevention advocates say even some of the worst facilities are practically overflowing, since hospitals just keep sending them new patients.
Governments have stated that hospitals can’t specify or limit the choices a patient has with regard to nursing home facilities. However, that doesn’t stop hospitals from sharing information about quality. There are a handful of hospital systems throughout the country that create networks of preferred nursing homes that are of higher quality, while still noting the other available options. But this kind of effort is rare.
Researchers in Rhode Island analyzed practices at 16 hospitals nationally and discovered only four that provided information on facility quality to patients who were weighing nursing home options. This means more patients were at risk for nursing home neglect and abuse.
The Kaiser report noted the federal government is considering changing this hands-off approach by requiring hospitals to give patients better information about the quality of these facilities, while still requiring respect for the preferences of the patient. The new rule would affect not just information provided about nursing homes but also information regarding home health agencies, rehabilitation hospitals, and any other sites or services patients might need after they’ve stayed in a hospital.
Still, the proposed rule doesn’t say exactly what the hospitals have to share, and it hasn’t yet been finalized, even though it’s been more than 12 months since Medicare suggested it. It’s also unclear how far it’s going to make it, considering Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who is chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, has placed it on the list of proposals Republicans want to block this year.
Still, there are some existing incentives for hospitals for so-called “good discharges.” For instance, in response to hospitals frequently just pushing to get patients out sooner rather than later, Medicare imposed sanctions on hospitals that had too many discharged patients who returned within a month. Now, there is incentive to make sure patients have good resources when they leave. Still, as the Kaiser report notes, hospitals may have even more incentive to funnel patients into hospital-owned or affiliated nursing homes, even when there are superior options available.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Why hospital patients go to nursing homes with poor ratings, Dec. 19, 2016, By Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News
More Blog Entries:
Utley v. Smith Hardware and Garden – Injury Due to Open and Obvious Hazard, Dec. 30, 2016, Asheville Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer Blog