The special focus status designation is a strict form of nursing home oversight applied to facilities that do not meet federal standards of care. If you are considering nursing homes for a loved one, be sure to look into the operating history to ensure that a facility has a record of providing good patient care.
What special focus status means
There are over 15,000 skilled nursing homes in the U.S. Special focus status is given to those that show the poorest performance in terms of patient care. Since 2005, more than 900 of these facilities have turned up on a watch list. Unfortunately, more than one-third of those that showed sufficient improvement in their practices to be removed from the list continue to hold the lowest Medicare health and safety rating. Federal health inspections indicate that 52 percent of the facilities that were cleared of lapses in care and are still in business have harmed or jeopardized patients in the years since graduating from the list.
How special focus status is applied
There is joint state-federal cooperation in applying special focus status. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are tasked with assigning a certain number of slots to each state depending on the number of nursing homes there are. It is the job of state health regulators to determine which facilities should be placed on the watch list.
There are many reasons for a nursing home to receive special focus status:
- Patients given the wrong medications
- Staff failed to tell family members or doctors about patient injuries
- Staff failed to protect patients from violence or bullying by other patients or employees
- Ongoing shortage of qualified staff including registered nurses
If you have done your research, selected a nursing home and made sure your loved one was comfortably situated there, follow up on a consistent basis. Remember that there are legal options to pursue if you see signs of patient abuse or neglect. Do not wait for the government to assign special focus status to the nursing home you thought was a good choice for your loved one.