WASHINGTON-More nursing homes are being cited for serious violations as inspectors face increasing pressure to crack down on dangerous conditions, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
From 2000 through 2006, the number of citations for putting patients in "immediate jeopardy" increased 22%, according to the records from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which regulates nursing homes. Those citations are the most serious reprimand inspectors can issue and often follow cases in which patients were physically or sexually abused or left without medications.
The increase came as many states stepped up nursing home inspections. Homes that put their patients in immediate jeopardy risk fines or being told they cannot accept new Medicaid patients, a major source of their income.
Inspectors found nearly 2,000 violations last year that jeopardized patients at nearly 850 of the nation's 16,000 nursing homes, according to the records. They account for about 6% of the total violations uncovered in nursing homes.
New York issued 131 immediate jeopardy citations last year, up from 41 in 2000. This year it cited one home for not stopping two elderly patients from hitting others, and another for not doing enough to check on patients who fell down, a common source of nursing home injuries.
The Medicare and Medicaid services' records for 2007, still incomplete, already show more than 1,300 "immediate jeopardy" citations. New York inspectors issued eight of them to the Vivian-Teal Howard home in Syracuse, N.Y., after a January review found more than a dozen patients had not been given their medications over several days.
"Did we have people that were at risk of losing their lives? I would say no," said the home's administrator, Joe Corradino. "There were problems there and we knew that, and we corrected all those issues."
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