Nursing Home Transparency & How It Determines Safety

Safety is of utmost importance. This is a blanket statement that we can all agree on. But behind the closed doors of a nursing home, it is unfortunately hard to guarantee safety from abuse, neglect, and sexual assault. That’s why it’s incredibly important to advocate for nursing home transparency across the board for all areas of care, all instances of negligence and abuse, and all policies regarding emergencies and more. Taking further steps to achieve nursing home transparency will determine the safety of all current and future residents. 

Sexual Abuse & Transparency

In the fall of 2022, KPBS (a news source based out of San Diego), found a major fault in the California Department of Health (CDPH) incident reporting system. Namely, that it uses vague terms and insufficient reporting when it comes to sexual assault in nursing homes. In a case settled last year, it was found that a nursing home resident at San Diego’s Reo Vista Healthcare Center was sexually assaulted by a caregiver. The case was described by CDPH as “employee-to-resident abuse that was substantiated” and the facility was cited for failure “to provide a safe environment.” 

KPBS struggled to get a statement from CDPH representatives describing their methods and how their reporting system works. Additionally, the CDPH website, which is meant to be a hub of information designed to help make choosing a safe facility easy, is less than user-friendly. This, combined with lax reporting overall, means that CDPH is not being as transparent as it should be.

“CDPH has substantiated at least 24 sexual assaults at 18 San Diego County nursing homes from Jan. 1, 2019 through Sept. 10, 2022, according to a KPBS review of complaints from all 84 nursing homes in the region listed on its website.

However, in only nine of those cases did the website show that CDPH found a nursing home had “deficiencies.” A deficiency occurs when a facility fails to meet a state or federal standard.”

Schizophrenia, Antipsychotics & Transparency

We’ve discussed the overuse of antipsychotics issue before. It’s an issue that continues to pervade in nursing homes and is one area where doctors and nursing homes are not being transparent. For example, we last reported that “the way CMS has set up their QMs rating system does not require facilities to include the use of antipsychotics for schizophrenic patients as part of their overall antipsychotic usage. Steps have been taken to dissuade the use of antipsychotics among nursing home residents, but a recent study found schizophrenia diagnoses have increased exponentially, and seemingly without explanation.”

This means that it is likely that they are using schizophrenia diagnoses (a disease that affects only 1 in 150 people in the US) to hide antipsychotic usage among residents. Loopholes like these are at the heart of the transparency issue, creating ways for nursing homes and other organizations to bend the truth and avoid the consequences of dangerous and harmful behaviors or policies.

Financials & Transparency

Finally, there is the issue of privately owned nursing homes burying their financial information. This may not seem like a big deal, but most privately owned, for-profit facilities use intermediate corporate entities to bury financial and ownership information, making it hard to determine how money is used. This allows companies to mishandle money, potentially lessening the amount that goes into essential patient care, and not suffer any consequences. 

All of this equals out to an industry plagued with a transparency issue. There are many areas where nursing homes often fail to be completely honest with the public, but when it comes to citizens looking for a place to live as they age, the need for transparency quickly becomes a life or death situation. It is vitally important, as we advocate for other industry changes that we also demand transparency for nursing homes.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, call Gharibian Law (877-460-1187) today for a FREE consultation and the best legal representation.