NPR had a great article about AARP’s recent study and scorecard. The study from AARP says that care could vary dramatically in cost and quality depending on where they live. The study was motivated by a simple fact: The number of available family caregivers is declining. The study looked at 26 different variables in each state, from affordability and access to whether care is delivered in private homes or more expensive nursing homes.
AARP calls its study a scorecard. The state with the highest marks was Minnesota, followed by Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska. Bringing up the rear were Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, with Kentucky coming in last.
The costs of care — whether at home or in a nursing home — varied widely across the states. But there wasn’t one where care was affordable for most middle-class families. The study found that home care services on average would consume 84 percent of the income of a typical older middle-income family. For nursing home care, it was 246 percent of income.
Sara Comtois was charged with sexually assaulting a resident at the nursing home where she worked. She is charged with two counts of gross sexual assault and one count of intentionally endangering the welfare of a dependent person. No information is available concerning the state of her victim. Nursing home patients are frequently unable to verbalize the abuses they sustain due to their dependent state.
Due to low wages and undesirable working conditions, the staff at these facilities tend to not fulfill the requirements of their position. Such discontent by the staff increases the likelihood of employees directing their anger to the residents, the ones who are unable to defend themselves. Many abuses are denied and covered up by the nursing home facility. See full article here.
In Pisano v. Extendicare, the heirs of a man who passed away in 2011 while in the care of a Pennsylvania nursing home filed a lawsuit against the facility seeking damages for his personal injuries and wrongful death. When the man was initially admitted to the skilled nursing facility, however, his daughter signed an agreement to arbitrate any future disputes with the institution. After the lawsuit was filed, the Wisconsin-based nursing home company asked the trial court to compel the case to arbitration. The trial court refused to submit the wrongful death claim to arbitration and held that the parties’ arbitral agreement only applied to the man’s personal injury claims, not the beneficiaries’ wrongful death claims.
According to the court, Pennsylvania’s wrongful death statute creates a cause of action that is separate and independent from any tort claims that are properly subject to the parties’ broad arbitration agreement. On appeal, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the lower court’s decision.
In late May, Extendicare filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States to consider whether an arbitration agreement precludes a wrongful death claim in a nursing home dispute. The nursing home company argues the high court should review the case because there is currently a split among the states regarding whether or not nursing home arbitration agreements extend to wrongful death claims. In the past, the majority of have reportedly agreed with the Pennsylvania court and held that arbitration agreements do not apply to wrongful death causes of action. In contrast, courts have found that valid nursing home arbitration agreement may apply to a wrongful death claim.
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SFGate reports, Georgia nursing home operator will face time in prison and a hefty fine after a federal appeals court upheld the court’s ruling. George Houser ran two nursing homes in Rome and Brunswick which were both shut down in 2007. Houser diverted the funds he received for the nursing home to pay for personal items and ‘to fund a luxurious lifestyle while residents went without food and medicine’. Houser will face 20 years in prison and pay more than $7 million to Medicaid, Medicare, and the IRS.
Despite the Seventh Amendment’s guarantee of a constitutional right for a jury to determine damages, the West Virginia Supreme Court has slashed by more than half the multimillion-dollar damages a jury levied against a national for-profit nursing home chain for their conscious decision to understaff the facility causing a former resident’s death. Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib Jr. last year denied a defense motion for a new trial. He ruled the verdict appropriately punished Heartland of Charleston’s corporate owner, HCR Manor Care, for a history of intentionally short-staffing nursing homes to maximize profit.
In a 76-page opinion released, the justices reduced the penalty against Heartland of Charleston from $91 million to $37 million. The court arbitrarily reduced a jury’s $11.5 million award in compensatory damages to $4.6 million, saying the lower court erred in its ruling on certain issues, and reduced punitive damages from $80 million to $32 million. The Supreme Court reduced the punitive damages based on a 7-to-1 ratio of punitive-to-compensatory damages reflecting the reduced compensatory amount.
After a nearly two-week trial in 2011, a jury found that Heartland of Charleston which is owned and operated by Manor Care Inc., failed to feed and care for Dorothy Douglas. She stayed at the home for about three weeks while awaiting space to open up at another facility. The neglected woman died after her release from Heartland in 2009.
A new Commonwealth Fund report looks at how the United States stacks up against other countries on things like access to doctors and quality of care. It pulls from three separate surveys conducted over the past three years: a 2011 survey of sicker patients, a 2012 survey of doctors and a 2013 survey of adults over 18. It also uses health outcome data from the OECD and World Health Organization. This means it captures the experience of the medical system from the people who use it a lot, those who use it a little and the doctors treating them.
The American health care system came in last both in the overall rankings, which pull together data on 11 specific measures of success for a health care system. This includes metrics like how easily residents can access health care, if that medical care is affordable and if its effective. There was no measure where the United States came in first place — our best ranking was coming in third in the effectiveness of our medicine.
See also USA Today: Health Survey Ranks U.S. Last Among Rich Peers
The U.S. ranking reflects poor scores on measures of healthy lives — “mortality amenable to medical care,” infant mortality and healthy life expectancy at age 60. The highest U.S. score was a 3, for “effective care.” The USA also outranked its peers on preventive care and on speedy access to specialists. But the nation fares poorly on “access to needed services” and on getting prompt attention from primary care physicians. … What do the healthier cousins have that the United States does not? Universal health care, the Commonwealth Fund points out. Nonetheless, Canada limped just ahead of its southern neighbor in the survey. … Though the Affordable Care Act “is increasing the number of Americans with coverage and improving access to care,” the latest survey relied on data from before the law was implemented fully. Still, the ACA “will further encourage the efficient organization and delivery of health care, as well as investment in important preventive and population health measures”.
New study shows that juice may reduce UTI rates by more than 50%. In the study, 236 residents of nursing homes were divided into two groups. For the first three months, one group drank a placebo and the other drank 89 mL of the juice. For the next three months, the groups were switched and the group drinking the juice drank 156 mL. At the end of the study, the rate of UTIs was reduced by 38% for those who drank 89 mL and 55% for those who drank 55%. Researchers posit that the juice helps reduce UTI rates because it is high in phenolics, which reduces UTI risk.
The complete study can be found here.
Here’s some encouraging news:
Adjusted for timing shifts, Medicare growth is even lower through eight months at just 0.3 percent. And even after removing the effects of temporary policies, year-to-date Medicare growth remains extremely low at 2.5 percent, even lower than through April. This is more than a full percentage point below economic and beneficiary growth, meaning that even excluding one-time effects, Medicare spending is on pace to both fall as a percent of GDP and on a per-capita basis.