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When Will Care Get Better?

Published on September 20th, 2017

The New York Post tabloid had an interesting article by Betsy McCaughey, a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy research and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, about the  alert issued by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services calls for urgent action. It cites incidents in 33 states where residents were rushed to emergency rooms because of rape, broken bones or severe neglect. The IG warned families to “visit your loved ones often” and “report potential cases of abuse or neglect to your local police.”

One out of every three Baby Boomers will at some point need a nursing home. Not necessarily for permanent living. Many will go for rehab after heart surgery or an orthopedic repair, never thinking the stay could turn deadly.

You can blame the indifference of hospital administrators and government officials for the frequency of these tragedies. When hospital patients are told they need to go to rehab, instead of straight home, the hospital hands them a list of facilities.

Beware. Some facilities have five-star ratings from Medicare, but others have only one or two stars, meaning substandard care. Hospital staff don’t tell you that.

What can families do? Complaining to the facility usually elicits “We’re short-staffed.”

The worst facilities appear on Medicare’s Special Focus probationary list. Still, facilities with numerous complaints stay open, filling beds with unsuspecting patients.

New Jersey enacted Peggy’s Law this month, imposing fines on employees who witness neglect or assault and fail to call police. It will empower caregivers to do the right thing. A similar bill awaits action in the New York Legislature.

Every state should pass such a bill. To spare patients the agony of living with abuse and dying from it.

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