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Nursing homes may warrant greater scrutiny

A federal hearing about nursing homes has led to statements from both the health care industry and patient advocates. Advocates are interested in making sure that there is greater awareness of what happens to both patients and care workers in nursing facilities across the country. According to the CEO of the American Health Care Association, patient care in New Mexico and elsewhere has improved dramatically since 2011.

However, the CEO also acknowledged that even a single incident of patient neglect and abuse was too many. The CEO also said that the American Health Care Association has submitted ideas to government officials that would add greater transparency to the process of reporting abuse. The CEO for LeadingAge said that there is a need for public long-term care services in addition to private services currently offered. A member of the Long-Term Care Community Coalition noted at the hearing that there is little government oversight of nursing homes.

This means that there is little stopping nursing homes from prioritizing profits over patient care. The CEO testified that up to 40% of nursing home facilities have chronic deficiencies when it comes to meeting minimum care standards. One major issue is the use of anti-psychotic medications within nursing homes and other care facilities. Patient advocates have called for a study outlining exactly how often they are used.

If nursing home negligence results in a patient injury or death, the family of that patient may be allowed to take legal action. Negligence may occur if a patient is improperly medicated or is not moved on a regular basis. A facility may also be liable for allowing staff members engage in financial or other forms of elderly abuse. If a claim is successful, a patient's family may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and other damages.

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