For-Profit Nursing Homes Deliver Substandard Care, New Study Reveals

A new study, published in Gerontology, of older adults who live in nursing homes reveals that those who live in for-profit nursing facilities are almost twice as likely to have health problems correlated to neglect or insufficient care than those who reside in non-profit nursing homes or in private homes.

“We saw more – and more serious – diagnoses among residents of for-profit facilities that were consistent with severe clinical signs of neglect, including severe dehydration in clients with feeding tubes which should have been managed, clients with stage 3 and 4 bed sores, broken catheters and feeding tubes, and clients whose medication for chronic conditions was not being managed properly,” stated associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Lee Friedman, who also headed the study.

The study looked at over 1,100 individuals who were 60 years old or older. From 2007-2011, each of the participants in the study had been treated at a hospital in the Chicago vicinity for health issues stemming from lack of proper care.

The study revealed that participants who were residents at for-profit nursing homes were more likely to be victims of neglectful care. “For-profit nursing facilities pay their high-level administrators more, and so the people actually providing the care are paid less than those working at nonprofit places,” Friedman explained in a statement.

He continued, “So staff at for-profit facilities are underpaid and need to take care of more residents, which leads to low morale for staff, and it’s the residents who suffer.” Friedman indicated that more oversight and legislation could potentially help to lessen the occurence of neglect and poor care, stating, “Performance improvement programs and quality assurance and assessment committees, tighter adherence to federal law by Central Management Services that ties Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement with quality of care, and pressure from insurance providers to limit costly outcomes could help reduce the unfortunate diagnoses we saw in our study.”

According to personal injury attorneys Strom & Associates residents of nursing homes are often vulnerable and isolated, which is one reason why they can all too easily become victims of negligent or abusive staffers, especially the residents who are unable to speak up against injustice and advocate for themselves. Warning signs of mistreatment may easily go unnoticed by family or visitors.

Signs and symptoms of neglect, insufficient care or physical abuse may include bruising or fractures, scratches or avoidance of physical contact. Bed sores or lack of medical attention may indicate medical neglect, while signs of personal hygiene neglect may encompass an uncared for appearance or soiled clothing. Social, psychological or emotional neglect are also forms of mistreatment and warning signs may include listlessness, depression, non-responsive behavior or anxiousness.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.