The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as of 2014 there were approximately 15,600 nursing homes in the United States. At that time, about 79.8% of these nursing homes were owned by private individuals and corporations, and they served as many as 1.4 million residents at any given time.
The problem is it’s hard to find accurate information about nursing homes. It’s so hard, in fact, that in 2009 Congress passed the Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act, which aimed to make more information public than ever before. Of course, this doesn’t help the consumer if they don’t know where to look. Here are a few great resources for Illinois residents and their families to find out the truth about a potential nursing home.
Start With Medicare
First, you can begin by going to Medicare’s Comparison Website. At this site, you can type in the facility you are considering and learn a lot about how it measures up to other facilities near you. Type in a zip code and the system will generate the names of facilities in your area. You can search by distance as well. Here are some things you can view:
- Comparative and subjective ratings
- Comparison to other facilities
- Number of deficiencies and complaints
Just be aware that this comparison tool only focuses on objective and measurable data collected from regular state surveys and complaints. It may not be the most accurate measure of quality.
Illinois Department of Public Health
As you set your sites on more specific information, no search is complete without going to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). This state agency is responsible for investigating complaints of nursing home resident abuse and neglect. You can use the easy pull-down search tool to look up a nursing home. On the right side of the page, you can click on “Surveys” to access several years of complaints and investigations. You can see everything from what people are claiming went wrong with their loved ones to the nursing home’s response. This can be very interesting reading, and it may give you an idea what you can expect. Here is what you can view:
- Owners’ names
- Surveys and investigations
Examples of Abuse
Examples range from bed sores to fractures and even medication errors. We recently saw a case where a southern Illinois facility was cited because a nurse admitted to stealing Fentanyl patches from residents and using them for herself. While it’s bad enough this trained healthcare worker would have such a tragic addiction while working around vulnerable seniors, just imagine the poor senior who is left to suffer without her prescribed pain medication. This is textbook abuse, and victims of this conduct have specific legal rights to compensation. Keep in mind that because these surveys and investigations are kept confidential, all names are redacted for privacy reasons. That said, you can tell a lot about a facility by its "plan of correction." This is where the nursing home responds to the state, explaining what they plan to do to fix the problem.
How Brown & Brown Can Help
If you suspect someone is hurting a loved one in a nursing home, you do not have to take it. Sadly, a lot of seniors die from neglect and it goes unreported and uninvestigated. At Brown & Brown, we will work hard to figure out what happened and why.
Contact our firm at (618) 888-8888 to speak with us about what’s going on. We won’t charge you for the consultation, and if we find that there is abuse or neglect, we may be able to aggressively pursue financial compensation for you and your family. But there are tight deadlines on bringing this type of case against a nursing home. So whatever you do, call as soon as possible to find out if you have a right to compensation.