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Nicholas A. DiCello Esq. | Mar 5, 2014

Analysis: Ohio Nursing Homes Need to Improve

When families ultimately make the difficult choice to send their loved ones to a nursing home, because they are unable to take care of themselves, the family member's hope is that their loved one will receive adequate care. Unfortunately,nursing home neglect and abuse does occur in Cleveland, and a recent USA Today survey indicates some nursing homes in Ohio still have a long way to go before their care is considered exemplary.

Three nursing homes in Cleveland appeared on a list of 15 facilities in Northeast Ohio that USA Today has rated as consistently bad in its analysis of ratings given by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Ratings are assigned to nursing homes based on a number of factors, including incidents of resident abuse, facility and equipment cleanliness, staff licensing and quality of care for residents.

The report noted that despite the stagnant ratings in Ohio, most nursing homes' ratings are improving. Ohio isn't alone in its struggles to provide senior citizens with good places in which to spend their sunset years.

The five-star nursing home rating system was introduced in 2008 as part of a federal effort to increase the transparency of consumer health care. Nursing homes residents are especially vulnerable to faulty health care practices. Many homes that rated low in the survey are staffed by caregivers who fail to provide proper care. For example, a check of a home on the east coast found that on 19 occasions, staff had given patients an incorrect dosage of a drug used to treat Parkinson's disease. Not surprisingly, that home received a one-star rating.

Some people might expect that chain-owned nursing homes would have more uniform standards and achieve higher ratings as a result. But the survey found that is not always the case. The nation's largest chain by number of beds received a consistent one-star rating for 22 of its 277 nursing homes over the last three years. None of this company's homes has received regular five-star ratings.

The good news is that USA Today's analysis showed a trend in overall quality improvement in most of the 15,700 nursing homes monitored. The number of homes with four or five-star ratings increased by five percent -- from 38 percent to 43 percent -- over the three-year period studied. During that same time, the number of homes with the worst ratings of one or two stars dropped five percent from 40 percent of all nursing homes to only 35 percent.

Even with these overall improvements, there are individual homes that seem unable to improve. Nationally there are 564 homes that received one star in each of the seven reporting periods analyzed. Fifty-four of these homes are in Ohio.