Maryland Lagging Behind In Quality of Care for Nursing Home Residents - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Maryland Lagging Behind In Quality of Care for Nursing Home Residents

The situation for residents in Maryland nursing homes may be set to improve after the passing of two bills this year by the General Assembly. Each of the two Senate bills delineates steps the state is taking to improve the quality of facilities located within its borders.

In his testimony in front of the House Health and Government Operations Committee on one of the bills, Sen. (D) James Mathias said, “We always tout with great pride how great we do in Maryland. Unfortunately, with our nursing homes, we haven’t done so well.”

One of the new bills, of which Mathias is a sponsor, will require the Maryland Department of Health to expedite its response to complaints of abuse in nursing homes. Additionally, it mandates that the office responsible for processing and responding to these complaints be bolstered with additional employees starting in 2020.

In a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Maryland is ranked as the seventh-worst state in the country for on-time investigation of nursing home complaints. The state failed to investigate 74 percent of high level complaints in a timely manner, taking 47 days on average to respond. These delays are not new – similar lackadaisical response times were also reported in 1999, 2006 and 2011. Maryland also joined Arizona, New York and Tennessee as the top offending states which accounted for nearly fifty percent of the country’s total late high-priority complaints.

Results delivered in the Maryland Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Quality2017 annual report state that in 2017, there was a 34.4 percent increase in the number of self- reported nursing home complaints over the previous year. In 2017, there were 3,342 total complaints,1,749 quality of care allegations and 941 resident abuse allegations in Maryland nursing homes.

Maryland lawmakers were quick to point out that not all nursing home facilities are lacking in quality, and that the problem is not confined to Maryland. Unfortunately, despite efforts by the federal and state governments to protects the rights of nursing home residents, the prevalence of elder abuse is a continuing chronic problem across the country.

The Law Office of Matthew L. Sharpnotes that the most common complaint from nursing home patients is slow response times and unanswered calls for help, with average wait time in many facilities exceeding 20 to 30 minutes. Allowing calls for help to go unanswered for excessive time can prove deadly for residents in distress, and can constitute gross negligence on the part of the nursing home staff.



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