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Georgia Nursing Homes Receive Poor Ratings for Patient Care and Health Outcomes

Very old sad woman looking away with her hand on her face inside a nursing home.

In a recent analysis by U.S. News & World Report, Georgia's nursing homes have been found lagging in patient care and health outcomes compared to other states. This sets the stage for rampant incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect.

This analysis evaluates staffing levels, patient outcomes, and harm prevention. It drew data from Nursing Home Compare by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Out of 357 facilities, only three achieved the highest rating in this study. Another 120 Georgia nursing homes received low ratings of one or two out of five. Only 35 nursing homes ranked above average in one of the two services examined.

Overuse of antipsychotic drugs in Georgia nursing homes

U.S. News data indicates that in 22% of the evaluated nursing homes, at least one in four residents received antipsychotic drugs. While these medications are legally prescribable, they raise concerns when used excessively.

“Basically, some people refer to them as chemical straitjackets,” said Ben Harder, the chief of health analysis and U.S. News managing editor. “And so if a patient is doped up on these drugs, they may be much easier to kind of manage because they may just sit all day in a chair in a wheelchair and not really give the staff a lot of trouble. But that’s obviously not good quality of life or good quality of care for those residents.”

Staffing shortages in Georgia nursing homes

Staffing shortages are a primary cause of poor patient outcomes in these facilities. To address this problem, the CMS has proposed a mandate for minimum staffing levels. A 20-minute increase in registered nurse care per resident per day has reduced COVID-19 cases by 22% and related deaths by 26% in nursing homes.

However, this is challenged by the existing workforce shortage and exacerbated by the pandemic. In Georgia alone, the nursing home industry lost about 6,000 employees due to COVID-19, according to Chris Downing, president of the Georgia Health Care Association. Nationwide, over 200,000 nursing home residents and workers died during the pandemic, accounting for one-fifth of COVID-related deaths in the U.S.

The proposed federal staffing mandate would require an additional 4,000 nurses and aides in nursing homes. To achieve adequate staffing, Georgia nursing homes would need to hire another 3,652 full-time employees. That includes 2,754 nurse aides and 898 registered nurses.

Improving quality of care in nursing homes

The U.S. News report serves as a tool to help identify nursing homes providing quality care and adequate staffing. It allows for a detailed search based on location, ratings, capabilities, size, and name. This aims to assist individuals in making informed decisions about care facilities for their loved ones.

However, challenges remain, such as the preference of nursing homes for patients with more generous insurance plans over those reliant on Medicaid and Medicare, which typically offer lower reimbursement rates.

While ratings are a useful starting point, U.S. News & World Report emphasizes that they should be complemented with in-depth visits and personal observations. This approach provides a more comprehensive understanding of a nursing home's environment and care quality.

Holding negligent nursing facilities accountable

At Kurle Justus, LLC, we understand the importance of quality care and respect for our elderly in Georgia nursing homes. If you suspect mistreatment or negligence, get legal help as soon as possible.

Our experienced team of Georgia nursing home lawyers is dedicated to protecting the rights and well-being of nursing home residents. We are committed to ensuring that nursing facilities uphold the highest standards of care. When they fail to do so, we'll be ready to hold them accountable.

Take a stand for justice and dignity for your loved ones. Contact us today for a free consultation. We're here to listen, advise, and advocate for the best interests of your family.

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