Assisted living caregiver abandoned residents during fire to evade police, authorities say

An assisted living worker in North Carolina stopped helping residents during a fire Wednesday and fled the scene, because he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, according to news sources.

HIPAA breach leads to first-ever 'neglect' settlement for a healthcare provider

A recent, first-of-its-kind HIPAA settlement demonstrates that long-term care and other providers need to be vigilant about updating software and other basic security tasks, officials say.

Also in the news for Dec. 19, 2014 . . .

NJ nursing home workers protest over wages ... More hospitals to see Medicare bump due to value-based purchasing ... CDC updates chronic kidney disease website

Rehab providers blast site-neutral payments, call for rejection

Rehab providers blast site-neutral payments, call for rejection

Site-neutral payments for skilled nursing facilities and inpatient rehabilitation facilities should not be considered until the recently passed IMPACT Act has been implemented, a rehab provider association strenuously urged Wednesday in a letter to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

Owner of compounding pharmacy indicted for 25 acts of second-degree murder over meningitis cases

Fourteen people have been arrested and two of them have been charged with second-degree murder related to a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak, authorities announced Wednesday.

Prosecutor drops terrorism charges against nursing home worker who allegedly threatened beheading

Prosecutors in Oklahoma have dropped terrorism-related charges against a former nursing home worker accused of threatening to behead a colleague, news sources reported Wednesday.

Also in the news for Dec. 18, 2014 . . .

Obama signs spending bill ... MI man arrested for threatening to bomb a nursing home ... Senate passes bill enabling savings accounts for long-term care of people with disabilities

Judge issues ruling in $1 billion nursing home case, says IL governor's firm not responsible

Judge issues ruling in $1 billion nursing home case, says IL governor's firm not responsible

A federal bankruptcy judge tentatively ruled that two New York businessmen, and not a private equity firm formerly led by the incoming Illinois governor, are responsible for $1 billion in nursing home wrongful death liabilities.

People with dementia experience less depression in nursing homes than community living, large European study suggests

People with severe dementia are less likely to be depressed if they are living in a nursing home rather than a community-based setting, recently published findings suggest.

Program to support home-based services leads to slower growth of Medicare costs, LeadingAge analysis finds

A program that supports people's transitions between healthcare settings and coordinates care has slowed the growth of Medicare costs, according to an evaluation by the LeadingAge Center for Applied Research and RTI International.

Also in the news for Dec. 17, 2014 . . .

HUD issues final rule on financial reporting requirements for LTC facilities ... Drugmakers would have to provide prescribing information to healthcare professionals electronically under new FDA proposed rule ... Exercise helps stave off Alzheimer's, new study affirms

NY nursing home worker faces homicide charges after a resident was impaled

NY nursing home worker faces homicide charges after a resident was impaled

A nursing home aide in New York allegedly got in a physical altercation with a resident, causing the latter to fall and fatally impale himself on part of a table, according to authorities. Cherrylee Young, 41, now faces negligent homicide charges and is scheduled to go before a grand jury.

Congress leaves Medicare and Medicaid untouched in $1.1 trillion spending bill

The $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by the Senate on Saturday will fund the government through September 2015, without any major changes to Medicare or Medicaid.

CMS clarifies long-term care surveyor guidance on same-sex marriages

When they appear in Medicare and Medicaid regulations, terms such as "support person" and "next-of-kin" can include same-sex spouses in most instances, according to a recently issued memorandum to long-term care surveyors.

Also in the news for Dec. 16, 2014 . . .

Labor Relations Board issues final rule meant to ease union elections ... Document clarifies RUG coding for skilled nursing facilities doing end-to-end ICD-10 testing ... Seniors who feel younger than their age have a lower death rate, researchers find ... 37-year-old surgeon general confirmed

4 hospitalized after nursing home fire, officials praise sprinkler regulation

4 hospitalized after nursing home fire, officials praise sprinkler regulation

Four residents were hospitalized after a fire broke out at a North Carolina nursing home last week, according to local news sources. Officials said the building's recently installed sprinkler system prevented further harm, and they praised the national mandate requiring such systems.

Political pressure impedes some nursing home overbilling investigations, WSJ claims

Pressure from politicians sometimes undermines efforts to stop overbilling by keeping Medicare and Medicaid payments flowing to nursing homes under investigation, The Wall Street Journal claimed in an article published Thursday.

'Landmark' study: Social media training increases nursing home residents' cognition

Seniors in long-term care experienced multiple cognitive and emotional benefits from being trained in how to use social media, according to findings from a "landmark" study in the United Kingdom.

Also in the news for Dec. 15, 2014 . . .

Gunman threatens TX nursing home worker and resident, steals meds ... Actavis must continue selling Alzheimer's drug, federal judge rules ... CMS proposes star ratings for home health ... CMS announces next phase of DMEPOS bidding

LTC facilities must extend spousal rights to same-sex married couples, CMS proposed rule states

LTC facilities must extend spousal rights to same-sex married couples, CMS proposed rule states

Long-term care facilities in all states would have to recognize certain same-sex marriages in order to participate in Medicare and Medicaid, under a proposed rule released Thursday.

Code status 'cheat sheet' draws scrutiny, nursing home challenges neglect finding

A "cheat sheet" to track residents' code status has become a source of controversy in the case of a Minnesota man who died without being given CPR, according to local news sources.

Impostor RN worked at 8 hospice companies, authorities charge

A Dallas woman has pleaded guilty to stealing the identity of a registered nurse and using that identity to work for eight hospice companies, authorities announced this week.

Also in the news for Dec. 12, 2014 . . .

Pfizer antipsychotic could cause fatal skin reaction, FDA warns ... Kindred to expand headquarters, add 500 jobs ... Sleep apnea increases dementia risk, study suggests ... Congress to hold ICD-10 hearing early in 2015

House panel hears testimony on site-neutral payments, potential for Medicaid cuts to providers

House panel hears testimony on site-neutral payments, potential for Medicaid cuts to providers

Site-neutral payments for post-acute services could potentially reduce federal spending on healthcare without compromising patient outcomes, a Medicare Payment Advisory Commission official told a Congressional panel Tuesday.

2 dead after blaze at senior living facility in Dallas

Two people died in a massive fire in a Dallas senior living complex early Wednesday.

Hospice benefit should be redesigned with nursing home residents in mind, researcher says

Medicare policy should change to better support nursing home residents who need hospice care, say investigators at the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University Center for Aging Research. They have been studying the characteristics of nursing home hospice patients, and announced their findings Tuesday.

Also in the news for Dec. 11, 2014 . . .

OIG has recovered $5 billion so far this fiscal year ... Researchers identify new genes to target in battle against UTIs ... Government grant will support research into bile salt solution to C. diff

HHS gives active shooter guidance for healthcare facilities, says there is 'no perfect response'

HHS gives active shooter guidance for healthcare facilities, says there is 'no perfect response'

Federal agencies recently issued guidance for how long-term care facilities and other healthcare providers should prepare for an active shooter emergency. The 33-page document covers threat assessment, actions to take during and after an emergency, and other best practices.

Many foreign-born LTC nurses report language barrier, current English proficiency test may be inadequate, study suggests

About 15% of U.S. long-term care nurses say their English language proficiency or accent creates communication problems with residents, family members, other nurses and/or medical providers, according to recently published findings.

Government is lax in issuing serious citations for antipsychotic overuse, NPR claims

Only 2% of nursing home deficiencies for inappropriate medication lead to a fine or harsher penalty, suggesting that the government is not doing enough to reduce antipsychotic drugs, NPR reporters argued in a story that aired Tuesday.

Also in the news for Dec. 10, 2014 . . .

Little Sisters of the Poor leader speaks out, arguments in the contraception mandate case are made in court ... Stanford researchers reverse Alzheimer's memory loss in mice by targeting 'beat cop' cells ... OIG: Access to primary care sorely lacking under managed care ... Coalition takes stand against site-neutral payments

Revised federal health IT strategic plan released, linked to long-term care

Revised federal health IT strategic plan released, linked to long-term care

Although physicians and hospitals are the main focus of an updated federal health information technology plan announced Monday, long-term care and other providers were also identified as targets of a push into new territory

Stryker to pay $80 million in OtisMed claims

Medical device manufacturer Stryker and its subsidiary OtisMed Corporation will pay more than $80 million to resolve criminal and civil liability claims related to knee replacements, the Food and Drug Administration announced Monday.

Psoriasis drug called candidate for Alzheimer's treatment

A drug used to treat a chronic skin infection holds promise for stimulating a certain enzyme in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, according to a new study.

Also in the News for Dec. 9, 2014

CT scan within a day after mild stroke may indicate future risk .... ICD-10 coding basics explained in new video from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ... New treatment developed for adult-onset diabetes, obesity at Indiana University

Make auditors also pay for their mistakes, doc group insists

Make auditors also pay for their mistakes, doc group insists

Recovery Audit Contractors making incorrect accusations should also be penalized, the American Medical Association is telling lawmakers and regulators. Physicians, long-term care operators and other providers have long criticized the RAC system, which rewards the government's contracted investigators based on the volume of "improper payments" they point out.

Rides for loved ones a reasonable benefit, AHCA claims

Operators should be able to offer free or discounted rides to the loved ones of residents being transported to skilled care facilities, asserts a letter from the American Health Care Association.

NM uses unique tactics to sue nursing home chain over care, staffing issues

Providers nationwide will be anxiously watching to see if there is traction in a lawsuit filed by the New Mexico attorney general alleging insufficient staffing made proper care impossible. Outgoing Attorney General Gary King sued seven nursing homes operated by Preferred Care Partners Management Group on Friday.

Also in the news for Dec. 8, 2014 ...

Assisted living providers settle lawsuit with DOJ over demanding extra documentation from foreign-born workers ... Sens. Collins and Markey seek $100 million increase for Alzheimer's funding in budget ... More people quitting jobs as economy improves

CDC: Signs point to bad flu season, nursing home outbreaks already reported

CDC: Signs point to bad flu season, nursing home outbreaks already reported

Nursing homes and other healthcare providers should prepare for a bad flu season, based on indications that this year's dominant strain is dangerous and the vaccine might be of limited effectiveness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

Little progress in improving nursing home worker safety, BLS report suggests

Nursing homes remain some of the most dangerous places to work in the United States, and there was little improvement in safety between 2012 and 2013, according to data released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Drug combination significantly reduces inappropriate laughter, crying in people with dementia, trial shows

A two-drug combination significantly reduces inappropriate laughter and crying related to dementia, according to recently presented findings from a Phase 2 clinical trial.

New ALFA leader prioritizes 'establishing trust' with state chapters

The Assisted Living Federation of America will be strongly focused on state-level initiatives under the leadership of its newly named president and chief executive officer, organization officials told McKnight's this week.

Also in the news for Dec. 5, 2014 . . .

ManorCare is reviewing legal options in wake of revelations about $40 million WV case ... Better provider education needed before new reimbursement strategies can improve care transitions, first-of-its-kind report states ... Antipsychotics do not appear to increase diabetes risk in older adults, study finds

Final rule expands CMS power to bar providers from Medicare

Final rule expands CMS power to bar providers from Medicare

Long-term care providers that consistently submit improper claims could have their Medicare enrollment revoked, under a final rule released Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

New Mexico nursing home to pay $145,000 settlement over firing of worker on medical leave

A skilled nursing facility in New Mexico has agreed to a $145,000 settlement over charges that it improperly fired an employee who was on medical leave, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Wednesday.

WV Supreme Court justice under scrutiny for potential conflict of interest in $40 million HCR ManorCare case

Questions are swirling around the recent $40 million HCR ManorCare settlement in West Virginia, following an ABC News investigation into potentially improper ties between the plaintiffs' attorney and one of the justices who ruled in the case.

Also in the news for Dec. 4, 2014 . . .

Nursing home spending increased last year, overall healthcare spending grew at historically slow rate ... Former Assisted Living Concepts execs face SEC fraud charges ... Reimbursement issues might be causing home health agencies to cherry-pick patients? ... 5 largest nonprofit providers unchanged in 2014

ALFA announces new president and CEO

ALFA announces new president and CEO

The Assisted Living Federation of America has selected James Balda as its new president and chief executive officer. He will assume the leadership role in mid-January, ALFA announced this morning.

CMS seeks comment on new post-acute admission policies for accountable care organizations

CMS seeks comment on new post-acute admission policies for accountable care organizations

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is considering giving accountable care organizations more flexibility in how their patients can access post-acute care. The agency described these policies in a proposed rule announced Monday and requested that stakeholders submit comments by Feb. 6.

TX nursing home resident charged with arson after suspected suicide attempt

A Texas nursing home resident now is in jail on arson charges after he set a fire at the facility in an apparent suicide attempt, according to local news sources.

'Artificial retina' could restore sight, researchers say

A new "prosthetic retina" technology could be a breakthrough in the quest to restore vision to seniors with macular degeneration, an international team of researchers announced Tuesday.

Also in the news for Dec. 3, 2014 . . .

Elder care crisis in western AZ could foreshadow coming nationwide plight, Al Jazeera reports ... MRI offers potential new way of diagnosing Alzheimer's early, researchers say ... Midlife diabetes linked to cognitive declines within 2 decades

CMS updates surveyor guidance for advance directives, dementia care and other topics

CMS updates surveyor guidance for advance directives, dementia care and other topics

Nursing home surveyors should question staff members to ensure that residents' care is aligned with their advance directives, according to a manual update recently released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The document released Wednesday includes revised guidance for more than 20 F-Tags, including those related to dementia care, restraints and nasogastric tubes.

Lack of documentation made nursing home arbitration agreement invalid, OK Supreme Court rules

The granddaughter of an Oklahoma nursing home resident did not have the paperwork to trigger her power-of-attorney when she signed an arbitration agreement, meaning that a wrongful death case now can proceed, the state's Supreme Court recently ruled.

Long-term care worker stole $21,000 in jewelry during first three weeks on the job, authorities say

A worker at a Florida continuing care retirement community stole $21,000 worth of jewelry from residents within three weeks of starting on the job, authorities have charged.

Also in the news for Dec. 2, 2014 . . .

Flu season on track to be similar to last year's, report shows ... Watching video while imagining movement could aid post-stroke rehab, researchers say ... Jewish Home Lifecare pioneers substance abuse program with medical rehab, AP reports ... NQF to review skilled nursing facility readmission measure

Profile: The thrill is far from gone

Profile: The thrill is far from gone

Growing up in a big family, Deborah Green's tenacious spirit developed out of necessity: "As one of six kids, I was always vying for my parents' attention," says the executive vice president of operations and chief operating officer at the Chicago-based American Health Information Management Association.

Analysis of antiseptics

Analysis of antiseptics

Data-driven strategies, acute-care solutions and natural ingredients will be increasingly important in the battle against HAIs and communicable diseases

Out of the data silo

Out of the data silo

Interoperability, data analytics and intervention models are giving providers a new way to use healthcare information technology to prevent rehospitalization

A graceful surrender

A graceful surrender

I have theories about things. It's a perfectly risk-free pastime, since I never have to prove any of them. It's just my opinion, after all, based on a rumination, which grew out of a random thought, which began as a mere zygote of a formless hunch.

Does Genworth's news mean it's time to flee?

Does Genworth's news mean it's time to flee?

There is a memorable scene in the movie "Forrest Gump" when Lt. Dan chews out the well-intentioned title soldier for saluting him while the enemy is likely watching. The implication is that if you want to strike a crushing blow to something, you take out its leader.

Act now, before the fall

Act now, before the fall

Long-term care operators have many good reasons to keep resident falls to an absolute minimum.

Going with your gut?

Going with your gut?

Intuition fascinates us. Over and over, we hear stories of people having amazing successes following their gut instincts. We seldom hear about those who listen to that inner voice and fail.

Design Decisions: Tearing down walls

Design Decisions: Tearing down walls

An Iowa facility removes an enormous entryway wall to create an open, inviting area where residents gather and enjoy natural light

How to do it ... lighting

Lighting is an overlooked design element in many long-term care environments. Good quality illumination will make a big difference in your residents' quality of life, and in many ways that you might not at first realize. Experts give their tips here on achieving better lighting.

Ask the treatment expert ... about skin tears

Ask the treatment expert ... about skin tears

Can you give some guidance on skin tears?

Silver-coated catheters reduce CAUTIs

Switching from a standard urinary catheter to one that's silver-alloy and hydrogel-coated cut symptomatic catheter-associated urinary tract infection rates in half, according to a study led by James Lederer, M.D., vice president of clinical improvement at Novant Health in North Carolina.

McKnight's panel: A brighter future for SNFs

McKnight's panel: A brighter future for SNFs

Long-term care providers can harness healthcare reform to become more profitable and competitive than ever, but success is not guaranteed. Proactive organizations with advanced technology tools already are separating themselves from those without them, some of the sector's most esteemed leaders asserted at a recent McKnight's panel discussion in Dallas.

Liquid bandage heals wound by taking SMART approach

Liquid bandage heals wound by taking SMART approach

International researchers have teamed up to create a liquid bandage that maps oxygen concentrations in skin wounds.

CompanyBriefs for December 2014

» Bertelsmann said in October it is buying Relias Learning from its current owners, Vista Equity Partners and LLR Partners. Relias headquarters will remain in Cary, NC, and company representatives said they expect to continue to add to their 300-employee base.

Ask the care expert ... about top deficiencies

Ask the care expert ... about top deficiencies

We're hoping to prep our facilities for quality-improvement efforts. Is there a list of the top deficiencies?

Discovery could speed sepsis treatment

Nursing home residents might benefit from a new way of diagnosing and treating sepsis made possible by a discovery at the University of British Columbia.

Groups give Ebola resources for nurses

The National League of Nursing has released videos, audio and webinars to address Ebola.

First COPD guide promotes shots, better management

First COPD guide promotes shots, better management

Patients with COPD should get pneumococcal and flu vaccines to manage their disease and ward off complications, according to new guidelines issued by two of North America's largest thoracic societies.

60 seconds with ... Carol Raphael

60 seconds with ... Carol Raphael

Q: You speak of how changing attitudes and demographics are creating "The New Aging." What are some trends LTC providers should note?

LED lights can make rooms feel expansive, suppliers say

LED lights can make rooms feel expansive, suppliers say

LED lighting solutions can be a good choice for long-term care facilities or others working in challenging spaces, supply-side experts have said recently.

MedPAC for equal post-acute payments?

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has drawn closer to formally recommending that skilled nursing facilities and inpatient rehabilitation facilities receive equal reimbursement for more than a dozen conditions.

Ask the legal expert ... about IRS crackdowns

Ask the legal expert ... about IRS crackdowns

Rumor has it that the IRS is going to be "cracking down" on providers in our area, but I don't know what that means or what I should be most concerned about. Any advice for keeping the IRS and its auditors at bay?

Workers want better support after mistakes, survey finds

Workers want better support after mistakes, survey finds

Mistakes at nursing homes are more likely to trigger blame than a corrective response, many frontline workers asserted in a comprehensive survey.

Facility settles lawsuit in food cart death

A California long-term care facility agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit after family members were awarded $135,000 in a case involving a resident hit by a food cart. A settlement was reached while the provider appealed the judgment, leading to the deal.

Shifts linked to memory loss

Shifts linked to memory loss

Staff on shift schedules might experience diminished memory and thinking skills, according to a new study.

Report: Resident falls top reason for lawsuits risks

Report: Resident falls top reason for lawsuits risks

Falls accounted for a slightly lower proportion of closed professional liability claims that insurer CNA most recently studied, but they still were far and away the top threat to providers' legal well-being, researchers said.

Providers beat goal for meds

Nursing home operators not only beat their goal of 15% reduction of long-stay residents receiving antipsychotic medications, they soared to an 18.8% cutback, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

ITUpdate for December 2014

» University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researchers are examining the effect of the Music and Memory program on dementia patients. The team is monitoring the mental state of 1,500 Alzheimer's and dementia patients at Wisconsin nursing homes who receive iPods. The program will be expanded to an additional 150 Wisconsin nursing homes in 2015.

OIG identifies areas of scrutiny

Government investigators plan to release five reports on nursing home practices in 2015, according to the latest annual work plan from the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

I couldn't live without ... Mighty Badge system

I couldn't live without ... Mighty Badge system

When Chartwell Willowgrove Long Term Care decided to do a corporate rebranding earlier this year, it was time for business manager Michelle Deck and others to decide how to replace employee name badges. Previously, the badges given to employees could only have the magnet re-used when someone left. With more than 200 employees at Willowgrove, a community in Ontario, the system of badge replacement could add up.

BusinessBriefs for December 2014

» Omega Healthcare Investors is poised to own nearly 875 skilled nursing properties across 41 states, following its merger with Aviv REIT in a $3 billion deal announced in November. The all-stock deal will create the nation's "premier publicly traded pure-play skilled nursing facility real estate investment trust," the companies stated in joint press releases. The combination of the powerhouse REITs is just the latest mega-deal in the long-term care sector.

Coding surveys to expand soon

Coding surveys to expand soon

Additional surveys to determine Minimum Data Set coding accuracy and nursing home staffing levels will occur in 2015 and should fix common problems, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced in late October.

SNF bed prices are still soaring

Big-dollar deals in the seniors housing sector continue to drive up per-bed prices, according to the latest figures from Irving Levin Associates Inc.

Occupancy passes 90%

Seniors housing stock enjoyed occupancy rates above 90% in the third quarter, the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care announced. Occupancy is up 3.4% since the cyclical low of 86.9% seen in the first quarter of 2010.

Ask the payment expert ... about PEPPER reports

Ask the payment expert ... about PEPPER reports

We never downloaded our PEPPER report. How important is it?

States eye Medicaid hikes

In a sign that the economy continues its recovery from the devastating recession of 2008, most states are committed to raising Medicaid fees in fiscal years 2014 and 2015, research from the Kaiser Family Foundation's Commission on Medicaid has found.

Medicare coverage kicks in, 2 years after landmark win

Medicare coverage kicks in, 2 years after landmark win

Seven years after filing for Medicare benefits for diabetes complications, Glenda Jimmo of Bristol, VT, finally qualified for skilled home health maintenance coverage. The obstacle that caused the long delay was Medicare's "improvement standard," which officials used to deny coverage for beneficiaries deemed to be "unlikely to improve."

Ask the nursing expert ... about Medicare penalties

Ask the nursing expert ... about Medicare penalties

I'm hearing a lot about Medicare penalties. Should I be worried about this?

Degreed DONs found to be more valuable

Nursing homes with highly educated, certified directors of nursing have better outcomes on some key quality measures, according to recent findings.

NV hospice, Skilled Healthcare face government false claims lawsuit over alleged overbilling

NV hospice, Skilled Healthcare face government false claims lawsuit over alleged overbilling

Skilled Healthcare Group and a Nevada hospice that it operates have been charged with submitting "tens of millions of dollars" in false Medicare and Medicaid claims, the U.S. Department of Justice recently announced.

Many people in retirement communities, assisted living have unmet needs, researchers find

People living in retirement communities have a higher likelihood of unmet needs than those residing in assisted living facilities or their own homes, according to recently published findings.

OR publishing group scammed nursing home residents with overpriced subscriptions, authorities charge

Scammers based in Oregon have been targeting nursing home residents in Wisconsin, tricking them into overpaying for magazine subscriptions, authorities claim in a recently filed lawsuit.

Also in the news for Dec. 1, 2014 . . .

NY health department to investigate death during nursing home evacuation ... Gunman kills 2 at German assisted living facility ... Atherosclerosis increases risk of cognitive impairment, researchers find

Don't miss any McKnight's news