GAO Report Questions Federal Oversight Of Nursing Homes

In the last 10 years, the average number of serious deficiencies cited in nursing home inspections in Connecticut has dropped by 50 percent, while reported nurse staffing levels have risen, and reports of residents injured by lapses in care have declined, federal data show. But a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) questions whether those measures – many of them self-reported by nursing homes – accurately reflect improvements in nursing home care, or instead are due to deficiencies in reporting and oversight. The GAO notes that the average number of consumer complaints per nursing home actually has climbed in 30 states since 2005, including a 20 percent increase in Connecticut. The ability of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to assess nursing home quality “is complicated by various issues with these data, which make it difficult to determine whether observed trends reflect actual changes in quality, data issues, or both,” the GAO said. The agency said that self-reporting of some of the data is among the problems that could undermine CMS’s much-touted Nursing Home Compare program, which rates nursing homes on a ‘five-star’ scale and is intended to help guide consumers’ decisions.

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GAO Report: VA Provides Inconsistent Treatment To Veterans With Depression

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides inconsistent treatment to veterans with depression and may be underestimating the number of vets who suffer from the condition, according to a government watchdog agency. The VA also needs to do a better job monitoring veterans who are prescribed antidepressants and in tracking suicides, according to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The GAO analyzed VA data from the 2009 through 2013 fiscal years and found inconsistencies in the way veterans were treated and medical records were kept. It also found that the VA’s own clinical guidelines were not always followed. VA officials did not respond to requests for comment about the report.

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Dr. Julie Schiff discusses a developmental behavioral screening with a patient and family member.

Connecticut Lags In Kids’ Mental Health Screening; Reforms Considered

Selenia Velez remembers the near-daily phone calls from the pre-school, alerting her that her 2-year-old son had acted out aggressively and needed to be picked up immediately. The calls went on for months, as Velez, 27, of Hartford, and her husband bounced between the pre-school and their son’s pediatrician, who recommended that they take him to a psychiatrist for an evaluation. But the psychiatrist was booked and held them at bay, as Velez watched her son’s behavior deteriorate. “We just felt hopeless,” the mother of four recalls of her oldest son, now 7. “It was one of the most heartbreaking things you can go through as a mother.

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New Report Underscores Gaps In National Strategy On Elder Financial Abuse

A few months before he died last November, Robert Matava of Unionville, a decorated World War II veteran, spoke publicly about his battle with a stealthy domestic enemy: financial exploitation of the elderly. After his wife died, Matava had moved to Florida, entrusting his son with his estate, including the house he built and the auto repair business he started. When he returned to Unionville in 2010 to spend his remaining years at home, he said, his son “refused to let me in” and he found himself penniless. “In all my 90 years, I couldn’t predict the abuse I’d suffer” at the hands of a family member, he had testified at a hearing convened by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who is pushing legislation to strengthen detection and prosecution of elder abuse. A new government report highlights the need for better collaboration among federal agencies, banks and state authorities to combat the kind of exploitation that Matava said he suffered.

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