|Cheryl Powers fixing the hair of her mother, Elaine Fisher|
The state’s public health department designated Parkview, a Bakersfield, Calif., nursing home, a “special focus facility,” requiring it to either fix lapses in care while under increased inspections or be stripped of federal funding by Medicare and Medicaid — a financial deprivation few homes can survive. After 15 months of scrutiny, the regulators deemed Parkview improved and released it from extra oversight.
But a few months later, Elaine Fisher, a 74-year-old who had lost the use of her legs after a stroke, slid out of her wheelchair at Parkview. Afterward, the nursing home promised to place a nonskid pad on her chair but did not, inspectors later found. Twice more, Ms. Fisher slipped from her wheelchair, fracturing her hip the final time.
The violation drew a $10,000 penalty for Parkview, one of 10 fines totaling $126,300 incurred by the nursing home since the special focus status was lifted in 2014.
While special focus status is one of the federal government’s strictest forms of oversight, nursing homes that were forced to undergo such scrutiny often slide back into providing dangerous care, according to an analysis of federal health inspection data. Of 528 nursing homes that graduated from special focus status before 2014 and are still operating, slightly more than half — 52 percent — have since harmed patients or put patients in serious jeopardy within the past three years.
These nursing homes are in 46 states. Some gave patients the wrong medications, failed to protect them from violent or bullying residents and staff members, or neglected to tell families or physicians about injuries, inspection records show. Years after regulators conferred clean bills of health, levels of registered nurses tend to remain lower than at other facilities.
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Poor Patient Care at Many Nursing Homes Despite Stricter Oversight