A recent national study of nursing home care hours released by the Center for Public Integrity (“CPI”) shows reason for concern in Oregon. The study found a consistently wide discrepancy between staffing levels reported by nursing homes across the country and actual staffing levels shown in cost reports made annually to Medicaid and Medicare programs.
The CPI study examined data from the publicly available Nursing Home Compare website, which is promoted and operated by the government for comparison shopping and reflects staffing levels self-reported by nursing homes during a two-week period before annual federal inspections. Numbers were then compared against the same data categories in Medicare and Medicaid annual cost reports. Medicare-certified institutional providers like nursing homes are required to submit an annual cost report with information such as facility characteristics, utilization data, cost and charges by cost center, Medicare settlement data, and financial statement data. CPI’s website referenced a 2005 statement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”), the federal agency responsible for overseeing nursing homes, that cost reports are a more accurate source of information than Nursing Home Compare.
CPI found that nationally Data compiled for Medicare showed lower levels of care than the Nursing Home Compare consumer website. Karuna Law analyzed the CPI data specific to Oregon, which included 65 Oregon nursing homes. We found that Oregon nursing homes reported an average of 13.11% more hours per resident than their cost reports supported.
According to the CPI, the “discrepancies in reporting means that family members . . . believe their loved ones are receiving one level of care, when they may be receiving less of it.” The data included Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, and certified Nursing Assistants. The CPI’s analysis found that reporting differences “were particularly high for registered nurses, the most skilled and highest paid workers.” This is consistent with the study’s data on Oregon nursing homes. Nursing Home Compare Oregon Registered Nurse daily hours per resident were an average 64.83% greater than cost reports. In contrast, Oregon Certified Nursing Assistant hours reported to Nursing Home Compare averaged only 8.169% higher than cost reports.
Registered nurse hours are particularly important because numerous peer-reviewed, academic studies have shown that the amount of care provided by registered nurses is strongly connected with residents’ quality of care. Lower levels of care are associated with a higher likelihood of injury and even death.
The CPI study indicates that nursing home neglect and abuse continues to be an alarming problem. If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of elder abuse or neglect in an Oregon nursing home, you should immediately submit a formal complaint of neglect or abuse to the Oregon Long-Term Care Ombudsman at (800) 522-2602 or (503) 378-6533. Because important time limits and strict deadlines apply to personal injury and wrongful death claims, you should also promptly contact a qualified Oregon elder abuse and neglect lawyer to evaluate any potential case.
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Center for Public Integrity, Analysis Shows Widespread Discrepancies in Staffing Levels Reported by Nursing Homes