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4 congressmen want answers from CMS about nursing home oversight

Residents of nursing homes in New Mexico trust the operators to maintain clean and safe facilities. Ongoing stories of abuse and negligence nationwide have prompted four congressmen, who are investigating skilled nursing homes, to demand answers from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In their formal letter to the agency, the lawmakers stated their expectation that CMS would brief them by April 16.

Concerns about nursing homes arose after a power loss at one facility in a Gulf state during Hurricane Irma allegedly caused 14 residents to die because the home lacked generators. The facility was also owned by someone with a long history of locking horns with regulators and law enforcement.

The letter cited many other accounts of sexual abuse and neglect at numerous skilled nursing homes. Reports from the Government Accountability Office and the Office of Inspector General have also criticized CMS for inadequate oversight of nursing homes. Hundreds of abuse complaints have allegedly been ignored or investigated very slowly. The sweeping demands for information within the letter also requested information about the CMS process for ensuring that only licensed staff members are employed in nursing homes.

In some cases, a person who is concerned about a loved one who has been mistreated could talk to an attorney familiar with litigating cases of nursing home neglect. In addition to gathering information about the person's direct experiences, a lawyer could launch an investigation to determine a facility's compliance with safety and staffing regulations. Photographs, witness testimony and staffing and medical records could be organized to build a lawsuit. This effort might result in a family recovering damages for issues like wrongful death, fall injuries, neglect or misuse of medication.

Source: McKnight's, "Members of Congress ratchet up pressure on nursing homes", April 3, 2018

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