Nursing Home Report Finds 90% Cited for Violations

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By Aliza Marcus

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) — More than 90 percent of U.S. nursing homes in each of the past three years were cited for violating federal standards, according to a government report.

For-profit facilities had a higher percentage of violations than other nursing homes, the inspector general for the Health and Human Services Department said today in the report.

Medicare, the U.S. health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, is trying to increase the quality of care, posting on its Web site the names of facilities that fare poorly in state inspections. The government also plans to use star ratings, similar to rankings of hotels.

“In 2007, 94 percent of for-profit nursing homes surveyed were cited for deficiencies, compared to 88 percent of not-for- profit and 91 percent of government nursing homes,” said Daniel Levinson, the inspector general, in the report.

The most common violations, cited in the case of 28 percent to 36 percent of nursing homes, related to improper storage and distribution of food, accident hazards and care services necessary for residents’ mental and physical well-being, the report said.

The survey process is too subjective to determine how well nursing homes are performing, Susan Feeney, a spokeswoman for the American Health Care Association, a Washington advocacy group for 9,000 nursing homes, said today in a telephone interview. Violations cited may relate to the “mail being delivered, things that have nothing to do with the quality of care,” she said.

Working With Congress

“We’re looking to work with Congress and the administration to implement a process that’s less subjective and has incentives for quality improvement,” she said.

The inspector general’s office said a new voluntary compliance program should help facilities reduce fraud and abuse related to quality of care and payments. The guidelines will be published in tomorrow’s Federal Register.

The rate of violations differed by state, with 100 percent of nursing facilities surveyed in Alaska, the District of Columbia, Wyoming and Idaho reporting citations compared with a low of 76 percent in Rhode Island.

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