Six nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) for various violations in which residents were injured or endangered. Masonicare Health Center in Wallingford was fined $7,800 after a resident with dementia fell from an X-ray table to the floor. The resident fell on Aug. 22, 2018, and suffered a head laceration that required five sutures, according to DPH. A registered nurse had asked the X-ray technician whether straps should be used to secure the resident to the table, but the technician said none were available.
Fifteen Connecticut hospitals will lose 1 percent of their Medicare reimbursements this fiscal year as penalties for having relatively high rates of hospital-acquired conditions, data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show. The hospitals are among 800 nationwide being penalized – the highest number since the federal Hospital Acquired Conditions Reduction Program started five years ago, according to a Kaiser Health News (KHN) analysis of the CMS data. The penalties will be levied during the current fiscal year, which began in October 2018 and runs through September. Under the program, which was created by the Affordable Care Act, the government levies penalties based on hospitals’ rates of infection related to colon surgeries, hysterectomies, urinary tract catheters and central lines inserted into veins. It also reviews infection rates for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and Clostridium difficile, known as C. diff, as well as rates of blood clots, sepsis, post-surgery wounds, bedsores and hip fractures, among other injuries.
Six nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) for violations that resulted in residents being endangered or injured. Noble Horizons in Salisbury was fined $6,660 for incidents related to elopement risks. On Sept. 23, 2018, a resident with dementia left the facility when a WanderGuard sensor malfunctioned. A driver in a pickup truck found the resident walking down the facility’s driveway.
Five Connecticut nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) for various violations, including several instances in which equipment wasn’t properly cleaned. In one citation, Apple Rehab Saybrook was fined $10,000 for two violations. On Sept. 4, 2018, two licensed practical nurses (LPNs) failed to properly clean and sterilize glucometers after drawing blood from multiple diabetic residents. One LPN who took blood from two residents and another who drew blood from four residents cleaned glucometers with alcohol wipes instead of germicidal wipes, the citation said.
Five Connecticut nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) following lapses in care, including one incident after which a resident died. Jewish Senior Services of Bridgeport was fined $3,060 after a resident with multiple sclerosis died after falling from a bed onto the floor. On June 12, 2018, a registered nurse was applying protective dressings to the resident’s coccyx, turned away to dispose of the dressing wrappers and, when she turned back toward the resident, saw the resident was starting to fall, according to the citation. The RN tried to stop the fall but couldn’t. The RN had moved the patient without help, even though the resident’s care plan called for two-staff assistance with mobility, according to the citation.
Connecticut hospitals reported increases in patients suffering from pressure ulcers, as well as serious injuries or deaths associated with falls and burns in 2017, compared to 2016, according to a new state report. Overall, the total number of “adverse events” reported by hospitals dropped from 431 in 2016 to 351 in 2017, a 19 percent decline, the Department of Public Health (DPH) said. But most of the decline was due to the elimination of two categories in 2017: serious injuries or death resulting from perforations during open, laparoscopic or endoscopic procedures; and those resulting from surgeries. Together those categories accounted for 72 adverse events in 2016. The reporting requirement for the two categories was eliminated after a work group of the Quality in Health Care Advisory Committee concluded that the vast majority of perforations that occur during some procedures aren’t preventable, and that serious injuries or death resulting from surgery are already better captured by other categories, the DPH report said.
Stamford Hospital has been fined $55,000 by the state for allowing a phlebotomist to draw blood at a Southington facility before obtaining a certificate of approval to operate. A state Department of Public Health (DPH) inspection at Feel Well Health Center in Southington on or around Jan. 26 found that a phlebotomist who had contracted with Boston Heart Diagnostics in Massachusetts was conducting venipuncture, or puncturing a patient’s vein to draw blood, before Stamford Hospital obtained the necessary written certificate to operate the blood collection facility, according to a consent order signed Sept. 7 by the hospital and DPH. The phlebotomist was collecting and sending specimens to Boston Heart for laboratory analysis and was being paid by Boston Heart to do so, the consent order said.
In 2018, the state took the unusual step of issuing a consent order requiring a New Haven nursing home to hire an independent nurse consultant and implement minimum staffing ratios after inspections at the facility uncovered numerous lapses in care and safety violations. The order, agreed to in April by the Advanced Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation and the state Department of Public Health (DPH), tasked the independent nurse consultant with assessing the staff’s ability to do their jobs and evaluating how care is delivered. The minimum staffing ratios ordered are 30 patients to one licensed nurse on all shifts, on most units; 10 patients to one nurse’s aide on the first shift; 12 patients to one nurse’s aide on the second shift; and 20 patients to one nurse’s aide on the third shift. Officials at the facility didn’t return calls seeking comment. It isn’t often that DPH mandates staffing or requires nursing homes to hire consultants, but the order reflects a broader emerging problem affecting the care provided at many nursing homes: insufficient staffing levels and caregivers who lack training.
Most Connecticut nursing homes will see their Medicare reimbursements reduced in the coming year for having high resident readmission rates to hospitals. Of Connecticut’s 224 nursing homes, 75 percent (168) are being penalized by Medicare based on how often their residents were re-hospitalized within 30 days of discharge. Twenty-five percent (56) in Connecticut are receiving bonuses for having few readmissions, according to a Kaiser Health News (KHN) analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This is the first time nursing homes are being penalized or rewarded based on how many of their residents are readmitted to hospitals for conditions that could have been prevented. Medicare has administered a similar program for hospitals since the 2013 fiscal year.
Consumers will have the shortest open enrollment period yet to shop for 2019 health insurance plans – 45 days — but they can “window shop” and compare plans beginning today. Open enrollment for health plans effective Jan. 1, 2019, will run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, giving consumers the least amount of time to enroll in or renew plans since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law.