Nursing Homes With “No Harm” Deficiencies Are Not Being Held Accountable

Nationwide, a majority of nursing homes voluntarily participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Because of this partnership, facilities must adhere to minimum standards of care established by the federal Nursing Home Reform Law. Those who do not comply, should receive health violations leading to various penalties including fines or in some of the most severe cases, a group’s Medicare or Medicaid certification will be suspended or revoked by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

CMS data indicates that about 95 percent of these health violations are cited as causing “no harm” to residents. In a May 2019 newsletter published by the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) several examples of these “no harm” deficiencies, taken from Statements of Deficiencies (SoDs) on Nursing Home Compare, were discussed. Surveyors classified all of the shortcomings listed below as “no harm,” meaning that they determined that residents were neither hurt nor put into immediate jeopardy for their health or well-being.

Examples of “No Harm” Deficiencies:

  • The facility administers an “unnecessary drug” to a resident, tripling his dosage over eleven days.
  • The facility fails to accurately report an allegation regarding the misappropriation of a resident’s property.
  • The facility’s staff member fails to follow the resident’s care plan for a two-person assist, causing the resident to experience “pain and discomfort.”
  • The facility does not inform a resident of medication changes, violating her right to be fully informed and understand her health status, care, and treatment.

At Levin & Perconti, our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys agree with the LTCCC newsletter conclusion that “The failure to recognize resident pain, suffering, and humiliation when it occurs too often means nursing homes are not being held accountable for violations through financial penalties. In the absence of a financial penalty, nursing homes may have little incentive to correct the underlying causes of resident abuse, neglect, and other forms of harm.”

How Illinois Nursing Homes Are Regulated

Several public and private agencies are responsible for the licensing, regulating, inspecting, and certifying of approximately 1,300 nursing homes in Illinois and responding to about 6,000 related complaints each year. Guided by more than 1,500 specific state and federal standards, these groups include the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and CMS. IDPH is responsible for ensuring nursing homes comply fully with mandatory state regulations.

  • These inspections (also called surveys) are conducted to evaluate the fitness and adequacy of the nursing home, its equipment, staff, policies, procedures, and finances.
  • Illinois has approximately 200 surveyors, including a registered professional nurse (RN), a nutritionist and an environmental health practitioner.
  • Specific areas of care reviewed include resident rights, access to care, activities, assessment and care plans, health care and dietary services, housekeeping, staffing, quality of care, and quality assurance.
  • The state’s inspection average is once every 12 months, and surveys are conducted without notice to the facility.

Based on CMS’s quality measures, Illinois scores 3.18 out of 5 stars, meaning the overall nursing home quality is just “Average” likely leaving room for too many “No Harm” deficiencies to linger without resolve. This rating also places the state in the bottom 10 of nursing homes in the U.S.

Free Consultation – Contact Levin & Perconti

If you suspect any injury resulting from neglect or abuse at your loved one’s Illinois nursing home, contact the attorneys of Levin & Perconti now at 1-877-374-1417 or by completing our online case evaluation form for a free consultation.

Also Read: IDPH Releases First Report of The Year Listing Nursing Home Violators