Hundreds of hospice care programs in the United States have serious, life-threatening deficiencies.
That’s according to an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services released this month.
Twenty-four hospice care programs in Idaho were listed on the report’s website and most were at or far above the national average for quality of care.
More than 300 hospice programs out of more than 4,500 surveyed nationwide between 2012 and 2016 were considered poor performers, according to the inspector general’s report.
Serious complaints were filed over unsanitary conditions and over patient wounds that were badly treated or not treated at all.
One official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called the results unacceptable.
Honey Goodman, chief operating officer with Treasure Valley Hospice, which got a 100 percent rating for quality of care, says she’s not surprised by the report, which comes as the nation’s population is growing older.
“Even though I’m not surprised by it, one of the things that scaes me is that patients and families will be now scared to receive hospice care,” said Goodman. “When in fact in Idaho, we are above the national average, and the care people are going to receive in idaho is good. So I think people need to be engaged with the hospice company. Ask questions if you have concerns call the administrator of company voice your concerns.”
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has a website for consumers called Hospice Compare but the inspector general’s report says the information on the website is lacking due to CMS’s insufficient reporting requirements and a lack of serious consequences for hospices that may receive complaints.
The inspector general’s report recommends giving CMS better enforcement tools to address hospices that perform poorly.
The inspector general also urges strengthening requirements for hospices to report abuse, and neglect.
The report’s conclusion states, in part: “Some instances of harm resulted from hospices providing poor care to beneficiaries and some resulted from abuse by caregivers or others and the hospice failing to take action. These cases reveal vulnerabilities in CMS’s efforts to prevent and address harm. These vulnerabilities include insufficient reporting requirements for hospices, limited reporting requirements for surveyors, and barriers that beneficiaries and caregivers face in making complaints.
“Also, these hospices did not face serious consequences for the harm described in this report. Specifically, surveyors did not always cite immediate jeopardy in cases of significant beneficiary harm and hospices’ plans of correction are not designed to address underlying issues. In addition, CMS cannot impose penalties, other than termination, to hold hospices accountable for harming beneficiaries.”
Date: July 11, 2019