James M. Berklan

As the sands of the year race to their finish, there is one certainty about the long-term care news in 2014: It’s been wild and trying.

“Trying” is a play on words because no fewer than half of the Top 10 McKnight’s daily news stories involved the legal system. McKnight’s readers are both discriminating and a good measuring stick for what resonates within the profession. So clearly, getting whacked with a hefty legal settlement or the threat of prison time makes one sit up and take notice.

And why shouldn’t it? Whether the story involves someone they know or not, the implication is long-term care professionals care deeply about doing the job right. And knowing when people are not doing it right.

The most-read story of the year? A Sept. 8 item emphasizing that providers must take responsibility for improper actions by their contractors — rehab providers in this example. 

Billings, rehab, a settlement because of implications of upcoding — that’s high intrigue, and rightfully so. Sub in a different term here or there and other extremely well-read stories of the year pop up. (A good example.) Do it right or don’t do it, is the lesson at hand.

It may come as no surprise to long-term care veterans that other Top 10 stories involved payment cuts, possible prison time for pressure-ulcer mismanagement, and more payment concerns. Toss in plenty of pressure from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as well as indignation about alleged surveyor malfeasance. Then come various deadly assaults, life-and-death treatment concerns and, yes, more big-bucks legal settlements.

To paraphrase a famous quote: Long-term care ain’t for sissies. And sometimes, it gets downright wild.

A look back at 2014 LTC news shows that providers ultimately want to get it right. Because it’s their job and it matters. We also know they come to the right place to get informed. The mouse-clicks don’t lie.

James M. Berklan is McKnight’s Editor. Follow him @JimBerklan.