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Scottsdale  •  Phoenix

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Consider Deficiency Reports When Assessing Nursing Home Safety

If you are looking for a nursing home for yourself or a loved one, you may be overwhelmed by the decision. You likely know that not all nursing homes offer the same quality of care, and no one wants to live in a facility with an increased risk of neglect or abuse. But how can you know what kind of care a nursing facility may provide you or someone you love?

Care experts recommend that you use a variety of information sources to learn more about potential nursing home placements, including visits to the facility, conversations with friends and information from local groups and ombudsmen for long-term care. Nursing home deficiencies, which are failures to meet state or federal health and safety requirements, are one useful source of information for people who are researching nursing homes for themselves or for family members.

They can also be useful for someone who wants to know more about the safety inspections at a facility where a loved one is currently staying. Understanding a facility’s health and safety history can help families watch for nursing home neglect, abuse and harm from poor care.

About Nursing Home Deficiencies

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and state agencies visit nursing homes regularly to see whether they are providing a basic quality of care. Inspectors look for deficiencies in the quality of care and safety measures required by state and federal law. CMS requires deficiencies to be corrected, and if serious problems are not corrected, the agency may block the nursing home from taking part in Medicare and Medicaid.

CMS says that most nursing homes have deficiencies, with inspectors finding an average of six or seven deficiencies at each visit. Usually, nursing homes correct these problems promptly. In some cases, however, CMS finds nursing homes that have more deficiencies than other nursing homes and more serious problems, such as injury to residents. When these significant problems persist, CMS designates the facility a special focus facility. Nursing homes with this designation generally have about two years to fix the problems before being booted from Medicare and Medicaid eligibility.

For people doing nursing home research, one benefit of this program is that CMS publishes the list of facilities. One nursing home in the Phoenix metro area is on the list.

Where To Find Information

Even if a nursing home is not on the special focus facility list, information about deficiencies can help create a picture of the facility’s compliance with state and federal safety regulations. CMS offers a lengthy checklist to help nursing home shoppers find the best facility for their need. One question it recommends asking is whether the home has corrected all deficiencies on its last state inspection report.

You can find out more about nursing home inspections and deficiencies in several ways. The Arizona Department of Health Services provides a searchable database of deficiencies its inspectors found at facilities in the state. In addition, CMS provides a tool called ” Nursing Home Compare” that uses inspection data and other information to compare the quality of nursing homes. Other sites also offer comparison.

Nursing home abuse and neglect can occur even in facilities that get good marks from comparison tools and do not have significant problems with nursing home deficiencies. If you or a loved one has been harmed by nursing home abuse, an experienced Phoenix attorney can help.

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