Funding cuts may be linked to increases in Ohio nursing home citations

Preparing a loved one for the move to a nursing home is a difficult transition. While signs that more assistance might be apparent, it can be difficult to bring up the subject. The downsizing process is also stressful. But in the end the goal is that your elderly loved one is well cared for in a safe environment.

A worry for many is the care provided at nursing facilities. Over the summer, the Columbus Dispatch reported that citations were increasing at Ohio nursing homes.

The number of "immediate jeopardy" citations doubled between the previous fiscal year and 2011-12. The definition of immediate jeopardy is that something the nursing home is doing has created, or is likely to cause, serious injury or death. In the most recent fiscal year, there were 41 citations compared with 22 in the prior fiscal year.

The increase may be associated with a reduction in the Medicaid and Medicare payment rates. In July 2011, Medicaid payment cuts went into effect. Then in August 2011, Medicare reimbursement rates took an 11.1 percent cut. These cuts require nursing homes to reduce staffing.

Fewer staff can mean that care suffers. When questions arise over the care your loved one is receiving, a consultation with a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney is one way to learn whether remedies are available.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

Although most nursing homes provide good care for residents, with continued funding cuts leading to lower staffing levels care will likely suffer. There are some things that you can watch for that are often red flags that proper assessments and individual care plans are not being following, such as:

Pressure ulcers or bed sores often caused by laying in the same position for long stretches of time Unexplained fractures or bruising, which may result from falls if a resident is unattended Weight loss from subpar nutrition Dehydration, which can occur if there is a lack of monitoring

The Ohio Department of Health has a complaint unit that investigates nursing homes. The unit makes sure that health care providers meet Medicare/Medicaid and all state laws.

Even with the increase in citations, the number of complaints filed with the ODH dropped slightly. Greg Moody, director of the Governor’s Office of Health Transformation told the Columbus Dispatch that complaints had fallen nine percent to 5,866 from the previous fiscal year. The state continues to monitor closely the number of citations and complaints filed against nursing homes to ensure that standards are followed.

In addition to contacting the ODH to report concerns, contacting a local personal injury attorney is also important. A lawyer can discuss the rights of your loved one and assist in holding a care facility accountable in cases where the facility’s negligence cause your loved one’s injury or death.