Long Term Care Facilities Receive Increased Scrutiny

The New York Times: "The Senate Finance Committee has opened an investigation into patient deaths and allegations of substandard treatment at long-term care hospitals, small specialty medical centers that treat chronically ill patients. The investigation focuses on the Select Medical Corporation, a for-profit corporation that runs 89 long-term care hospitals, more than any other company."

Last month, The New York Times "detailed poor treatment and patient deaths at long-term care hospitals, which treat 200,000 seriously ill patients a year nationwide, but rarely have full-time physicians on staff." Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, "asked Select to disclose its policies for patient monitoring, emergency situations and staffing. ... Former employees of Select have said that the company's hospitals are understaffed and rely heavily on temporary nurses. ... In a separate letter, the senators asked that the Government Accountability Office, Congress's investigative agency, examine federal and state oversight of all long-term care hospitals, saying that they worried the facilities might expose patients 'to an unreasonable risk of harm'" (Berenson, 3/8).

The Chicago Tribune: "[Illinois] authorities said Monday that they plan to shut one of the state's largest nursing homes by Friday and are working to transfer out the remaining 76 residents. Medicaid funding to Uptown's troubled Somerset Place facility is being cut off, and the state health department has moved to revoke Somerset's license after repeated inspections that found violence, abuse and mistreatment of residents. Somerset was licensed to hold more than 400 residents, but over the last several weeks, most of the residents have been moved to other nursing homes, said state Department of Public Health assistant director Teresa Garate. ... Somerset, which exclusively serves patients with mental illness, reported profits of $21.4 million on revenues of $132.8 million between 2000 and 2008, much of it from the Medicaid health program, according to cost reports filed with the state" (Jackson and Marx, 3/8).

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