The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) use a “star” rating system to indicate whether or not a nursing home is providing quality care to its patients. A single star is the worst possible rating and five stars is the best.
As it turns out, however, that system is remarkably flawed. The number of CMS stars a facility has may be more indicative of its ability to game the ratings than the type of care it offers.
Investigative reports find widespread abuses of the rating system
An investigative report by The New York Times looked at thousands of records nursing homes provided the government. The major conclusion the found was that the star ratings used by CMS cannot be trusted. If a nursing home’s administration wants to inflate their rating and doesn’t mind a little cheating, the ratings system is easily manipulated.
In fact, a minimum of 2,400 of the 3,500 or so nursing homes with five CMS stars were still cited for patient abuses and problems with infection control. Investigators discovered that it was common for nursing homes to submit false information to CMS so that they would appear cleaner, safer and better staffed than they really were. Many outright suppressed reports of infections and accidents among their patients in their CMS paperwork.
CMS, for its part, has done very little to punish those who break the rules. In fact, when pressed on the issues uncovered by the investigation, a spokesperson for the agency only noted that the star ratings were just “intended to serve as one tool” when selecting a nursing home.
When you find evidence of nursing home abuse or neglect, take action
If your loved one was abused or neglected in a nursing home, you shouldn’t let the issue pass. Mistreatment won’t stop until nursing homes find it too expensive to allow the problems to continue. Contact an attorney today about your options.