For the first time, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) issued its annual VA nursing homes ratings. The VA claims the data show that, overall, the VA’s nursing home system, which is composed of more than 130 community living centers, compares closely with private sector nursing homes, even though the VA on average cares for sicker patients in its nursing homes than do private facilities.
The VA stated that the overall star rating for VA’s nursing homes compared to the 15,487 private sector nursing homes rated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shows that VA has a significantly lower percentage (34.1 percent lower) of one-star, or lowest rated, facilities than the rest of the nation.
The VA states that 60 of the VA’s nursing homes improved their quality score from last year to this year (2nd Quarter FY17 to 2nd Quarter FY18), and only one facility had a meaningful decline in that metric (that facility was already rated with four stars).
The VA notes that its nursing homes often serve residents with more numerous and challenging medical conditions than do private sector facilities. Specifically, VA nursing homes serve a much higher proportion of residents with conditions such as prostate obstruction, spinal cord injury, mental illness, homelessness, PTSD, combat injury, terminal illness, and other conditions rarely seen in private nursing homes.
The VA stresses that private sector nursing homes admit patients selectively, whereas the VA will not refuse service to any eligible Veteran, no matter how challenging the Veteran’s conditions are to treat. In other words, VA nursing homes often house residents with more complex medical needs that private sector facilities will not accept, which makes achieving good quality ratings more challenging, according to the VA.
As a result, VA nursing homes at times rate lower than private sector facilities on specific metrics such as pain and type of treatment. Despite that fact, VA nursing homes compare well with private sector facilities in overall facility rankings.
The VA claims that VA nursing homes have a higher staff-to-resident ratio than private sector facilities, meaning residents in VA facilities get more direct attention from nursing home staff than do residents in the private sector.
The Acting VA Secretary stated in announcing the annual VA nursing home ratings: “Now that VA has made a commitment to reporting accurate quality and comparative data on its nursing homes, we are pleased to begin adding that important information to our transparency portfolio for the benefit of Veterans in making their health care choices. Further, we will release this data annually and use it to drive improvements across the VA nursing home system, including aggressive efforts to improve our 11 one-star facilities by sharing best practices.”
However, a U.S. Congressman has called for a national investigation into allegations of neglect and misconduct at Department of Veterans Affairs nursing homes after a report by USA Today and The Boston Globe showed that nearly one-half of VA nursing homes received one out of five stars, including three in the Congressman’s homestate of Florida, stating, “A congressional investigation should leave no stone unturned in finding out how this happened in the first place and how it can be prevented in the future. Those responsible for gross misconduct or negligence must be terminated immediately.”
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) while a resident of a VA nursing home due to nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, a nursing home fall, or the nursing home failing to properly care for a vulnerable adult, you should promptly find a VA nursing home claim lawyer in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a VA nursing home claim on your behalf or behalf of your loved one, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice attorneys (nursing home claim attorneys) in your U.S. state who may assist you with your nursing home claim, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959.
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