In Wake of Reports that Nursing Homes Inflate Staffing Numbers on Medicare.gov, Attorney Samuel W. Bearman Calls for Independent Verification and Oversight
Jun 24, 2015, 08:30 ET
PENSACOLA, Fla., June 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Putting a loved one into a nursing home is never an easy decision. Most families do their homework beforehand, visiting nearby nursing homes and, increasingly, checking the U.S. government's Nursing Home Compare tool at Medicare.gov. There's just one problem: According to a damning report by the Center for Public Integrity, over 80% of nursing homes have consistently overstated their staffing levels to Nursing Home Compare in an apparent bid for higher rankings at the site, putting patients at increased risk of substandard care and even death. Now Florida attorney Samuel W. Bearman is calling for independent verification and oversight of the figures nursing homes are currently self-reporting to Nursing Home Compare.
"Inaccurate self-reporting appears to be a systemic problem with Nursing Home Compare," noted Bearman, who regularly handles nursing home abuse and neglect cases. "It's clear from the Center for Public Integrity's series of reports on Nursing Home Compare that nursing homes are not being held accountable for the information they provide to Nursing Home Compare. Families need to know that there has been no independent verification of the data nursing homes are reporting to the site."
Of particular concern to Bearman is the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity's discovery that in a troubling number of cases, nursing homes reported to Nursing Home Compare as much as twice the staffing hours they actually had--primarily hours of highly trained staff like registered nurses (RNs). Families who decided to place loved ones in particular nursing homes based on the rankings at Nursing Home Compare didn't have accurate information. Many, like Bearman, were likely dismayed at the Center for Public Integrity's findings, especially since fewer hours of skilled nursing care generally translate to a higher death rate in any given nursing home.
The simplest way to remedy the problem, Bearman suggests, is to create a body that reviews the numbers nursing homes report to Nursing Home Compare. Bearman is calling upon the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the federal agency that manages Medicare.gov's Nursing Home Compare tool, to implement that body.
Bearman also hopes families will do their due diligence when it comes to choosing nursing homes. To that end, he recommends Florida families sit down with nursing home management and ask tough questions about staffing. Bearman also suggests that families explore the resources offered by Florida's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program when evaluating nursing homes.
"The Nursing Home Compare problem unearthed by the Center for Public Integrity is nationwide, though there appears to be a higher incidence of inaccurate reporting in the Southeast," observed Bearman. "Some of our most vulnerable citizens are at risk as a result of the artificially inflated numbers some nursing homes have self-reported to Nursing Home Compare, and that should outrage every American. We need to demand real oversight of Nursing Home Compare, and families must do their own research into nursing homes instead of relying on the information they can find at Medicare.gov."
About Bearman Law
A Northwest Florida practice handling nursing home abuse and neglect, personal injury, wrongful death and flood claims, the Law Office of Samuel W. Bearman, L.C. is located in Pensacola, Florida. Bearman serves clients throughout the state, especially those in the Panhandle area.
Mr. Bearman is a member of the Florida Bar and can practice in any State Court in Florida. He is admitted to practice in the Federal court for the Northern District of Florida and the Middle District of Florida. He is also admitted to the United States Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition, Bearman, a speaker and co-author of two books on personal injury and flood claims and a comprehensive brochure on nursing home claims, is frequently quoted in the media. He is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association's Top 100 Florida Trial Lawyers. Learn more at http://www.bearmanlaw.com.
Law Office of Samuel W. Bearman, L.C.
SOURCE Bearman Law
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