Tennessee Nursing Homes – 5th Worst in United States

Tennessee’s nursing homes rank the 5th worst in the United States, according to an analysis done by the Tennessean.   

The February 3, 2010 article points out that 

[a]bout 15,000 nursing homes nationwide got ratings of one to five stars, with five being the best, from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The ratings are based on inspections, complaint investigations, staffing levels and other nursing home survey data collected in 2008 and 2009.

More than 60 percent of Tennessee’s 319 nursing homes got low ratings — one or two stars — for staffing by registered nurses.

Overall, the state ranked in the bottom five. Only West Virginia, Texas, Georgia and Louisiana had lower average scores. However, Tennessee fared better than it did a year ago, when the star ratings earned the state’s nursing homes a third-worst designation.

The article goes on to explain that

[a]dvocates say the staffing level required by state law is not enough to care for nursing home residents, and that carries consequences: ignored bedside calls, medication errors and unanswered questions. Under Tennessee law, each patient should have at least two hours of direct care each day, including 24 minutes of a licensed nurse’s time. Standards in neighboring states vary, with Mississippi requiring 2.8 hours of direct care and Arkansas mandating more than 3.8 hours.

This data is revealed to Tennesseans at the same time that the health care industry seeks to limit its liability for non-economic losses (including punitive damages) caused  by  injuries and deaths caused by care at nursing homes and other health care facilities to $1,000,000.

 If enacted into law, this cap on damages will directly impact the value of every nursing home case because these residents have no loss of income or future earning capacity and thus their losses are principally non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, disfigurement and loss of consortium.  In addition, a jury will occasionally award punitive damages against a nursing home that recklessly causes injuries to patients.  A cap on damages limited the downside risk for the health care provider and its insurance company because they know that a jury cannot hold them fully responsible for the harm caused by their conduct.   

I urge you to consult your state representative or state senator and urge them to oppose this legislation.  Here is the contact information for your representative and senator.

Go to this site to see the ratings of nursing homes in Tennessee and across the nation.