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Behind national nursing home grades, problems galore

Wish budgett oxygen ers
Miami Herald photo

@patriciaborns  When Families for Better Care, a Florida-based nursing home resident advocacy group, published the first-ever state-by-state nursing home report card, Florida looked pretty good. The state's nursing homes scored an overall 'B.'

But behind Florida's good grade, a more detailed scorecard noted the following:

* Professional nursing services were almost non-existent in Florida’s nursing homes, wherein each resident averaged only 39 minutes of professional nursing care per day.
* Deficiencies were found in 90.20 percent of facilities reviewed.

Nationwide, the report found that only seven states provided more than one hour of professional nursing care per resident per day, Only 1 in 3 nursing homes nationwide scored above average on health inspections Nearly 90 percent of all nursing homes were cited a deficiency.One in 5 nursing homes abused, neglected, or mistreated residents in almost half of all states.

Compared with a state like Montana whose long-term care ombudsman verified 100 percent of identified claims, you might think Florida, whose ombudsman verified about 50 percent of complaints, is doing something right. But as the Herald reported, the state's long-term care ombudsman program has been functioning as a rubber stamp for the nursing home industry. How reliable are the verified complaint numbers, in that case?

"It's easier to score higher when the care across the country is awful," says Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care, who served as Florida's long-term care ombudsman for close to a decade. "The other states are just so darned awful."

On the plus side, Florida has one of the highest staffing ratios, Lee says.

Fortunately for consumers, Florida is also among a handful of states that keeps a watchlist of nursing homes whose care is considered "dangerous" to residents, leaving them vulnerable to pressure sores, falls and/or deaths. Currently 140 nursing homes are on the list.  Read the report card.

Comments

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blee4eva

According to the Miami Herald report cited in this article, the Ombudsman program began to decline and become ineffective after Brian Lee resigned from his position as State Ombudsman. Even though this isn't true (the Ombudsman program is as strong as ever), let's just assume for the sake of argument that things did take a turn for the worse after Lee left. This means that when the author claims the Ombudsman program has been functioning as a rubber stamp for the nursing home industry, she means that it has been functioning this way ever since Lee left. This, of course, implies that the Ombudsman program was NOT a rubber stamp for the industry while under Lee's supervision. Based on this logic, the author questions the reliability of reported data which ranks Florida's complaint verification percentage as one of lowest in the nation (giving them a grade of A in this category according to Lee's grading system). The insinuation here is that Florida's Ombudsman program is reporting a low percentage of verified complaints either because they've been told to do so by the nursing home industry, or because they've catered to the nursing home industry in such a way that that their data reflects a kind of rubber-stamping of the industry’s agenda.

Regardless of which of these assumptions the author is making, in the end her overall argument is flawed, because during the eight years prior to 2011 (which is the year covered for ombudsman data in the nursing home grading system), Florida actually had significantly lower complaint verification percentages (see data here: http://www.agid.acl.gov/CustomTables/NORS/Results/). And who was at the helm of the Ombudsman program during these eight years? You guessed it - Brian Lee. So does that mean that Lee was also functioning as a rubber stamp for the nursing home industry? And doing, in fact, a better job of it than his predecessor, Jim Crochet, whom Lee once accused of being a “lapdog for the industry”?

I'm pretty sure this is not an argument that the author would want to make (I'm guessing she hasn't checked the data) and I'm certain that it’s a claim that Brian Lee would disagree with. After all, this is the same Brian Lee who contends that he was fired from his position as State Ombudsman because he consistently refused to buddy up with the industry. This is BRIAN LEE, rightful heir to the Ombudsman throne. This is Brian Lee, professional provocateur and long-term care charlatan who preaches his spin from a pulpit propped up and funded by malpractice attorneys who use his zealotry to generate million dollar nursing home lawsuits. This is Brian Lee, the self-aggrandizing, self-appointed expert of long-term care advocacy whose fake non-profit creates sham nursing home rankings to further advance the goals of nursing home litigators. This is Brian Lee, the all-time king of sore losers. This is Brian Lee - hear him roar.

blee4eva

Link to data in above comment didn't work. Try it here: http://www.agid.acl.gov/CustomTables/NORS/Results/

Patricia Borns

Thanks for this. The site is full of fascinating data. For instance, It appears the rate of Ombudsman-initiated complaints rose dramatically from 42 in 2004, to a whopping 627 in 2010, before dropping precipitously to 173 in 2011, the year Mr. Lee was fired.

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