Reporters at WKRG News 5 in Mobile interviewed a nursing home staffer recently who revealed the too-often silent horrors of the industry, including patients with infected bed sores so severe their tailbones were exposed.
Though the account was given anonymously, our Birmingham nursing home neglect lawyers have learned that a new report lends credence to these tales of woe, with Alabama earning a state grade ranking of “D” when it comes to quality of nursing home care.
The report, released by Florida-based nursing home resident advocacy center Families for Better Care, is based upon a compilation of eight federal quality measures, such as percentage of homes with severe deficiencies in the average number of nurse hours and other staff time dedicated to daily patient care.
States with the best overall nursing home care in the country were Alaska, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Meanwhile, Indiana, Louisiana and Texas were at the bottom rungs. Disappointingly, Alabama was closer to the latter, ranking 31st in the country, with the Southeastern U.S. region receiving comparatively poor scores overall.
Among one of the most troubling findings was that in Alabama, professional nursing services were nearly non-existent. Even in facilities that touted 24-7 care, residents received, on average, less than 38 minutes of professional nursing care each day.
It’s worth noting that only 7 states out of the 50 provided more than an hour of direct nursing care each day.
Additionally, state inspectors in Alabama found at least one deficiency at nearly every single nursing home in the state, handing this state one of the highest violation percentages in the nation. Alabama was given an “F” in the deficiencies category.
The state also received an “F” with regard to the number of health inspection violations. Only 33 percent of nursing homes in the state had satisfactory health inspections. A violation could mean anything from poor food safety preparation standards to improper medication dispensing.
An “F” was also given for registered nurse staffing hours.
It’s a well-documented fact that nursing home neglect very often stems from having staffers who are overworked. This problem has risen in recent years, especially with the rise of for-profit facilities, with polices that tend to place corporate profits over quality patient care.
In half of all states in the country, the report found, one in five nursing homes had been the site of abuse, neglect or mistreatment.
Non-profit news organization ProPublica, which had previously conducted an extensive investigation into the state of nursing home deficiencies nationwide, updated its figures in June. Serious deficiencies, or those that pose some major threat to one’s health and well-being, were found in one-third of all Alabama nursing homes.
One piece of encouraging news: While the national average fine for a serious nursing home deficiencies was $12,000, it was more than double that in Alabama, suggesting stiffer oversight that we hope will lead to higher standards.
State Report Cards: Alabama, August 2013, Families for Better Care
Federal Report: Bedrails To Blame in Elderly Deaths, Jan. 15, 2013, Birmingham Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer Blog