A local newspaper investigation has revealed that the overwhelming majority of nursing homes in several New Jersey counties are consistently receiving low ratings from the federal agency tasked with evaluating the facilities. Violations that led to the low ratings are common examples of nursing home neglect: medication error, unclean and unsafe living conditions, untreated injuries and infections, and residents being ignored or left unattended.
Every year, New Jersey state inspectors visit all of the nursing homes in Bergen County and throughout the state and perform an inspection. The reports from those visits are then sent to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, where they are used to develop consumer ratings for nursing homes. The ratings range from one to five stars.
According to the report from the Press of Atlantic City, more than 65 percent of nursing homes in Atlantic, Cape May, Ocean and Cumberland counties most recently received ratings of three stars or lower. Half of the nursing homes in these counties receive just one or two stars.
To be fair, many nursing homes, upon receiving such ratings, take efforts to correct their missteps and improve their facilities. But when state inspectors return to find the problems fixed, they generally find new issues to justify yet another low rating.
One of the most common problems found during nursing home inspections was the failure to investigate or report incidents of elder abuse by staff members. Another common issue was a failure to properly administer medication.
Making the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is difficult enough without these issues. Hopefully, New Jersey state officials will begin to require more of nursing homes in the state. If a member of your family has been injured as a result of nursing home neglect or abuse, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.
Source: Press of Atlantic City, “Watchdog report: Neglect is routine at some New Jersey nursing homes,” Richard Degener, 27 June 2011