BY: Andy Dragovic | IN: Medical Malpractice
If you’re like most people, you often look at online reviews before making a purchase on Amazon, hiring a trustworthy mechanic, or even contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer. But such reviews may be even more valuable for families going through the difficult process of selecting a nursing home or assisted living facility for a loved one.
In fact, as discussed in a recent New York Times article, reviews of nursing homes on the ubiquitous review site Yelp often provide more useful insights into such facilities than do official government reports – valuable information for individuals and families concerned about nursing home negligence, staff abuse of patients, patient-on-patient abuse, patient dumping, and other issues.
People considering a nursing home for themselves or a family member often spend a great deal of time researching before entrusting their care and well-being to complete strangers. This should and does involve visits to the facilities to meet with staff personally, evaluate the conditions, and perhaps speak with residents about their experiences. These visits don’t give a complete or fully accurate picture of what a new resident can expect, however, as nursing homes put on their absolute best faces when meeting with families considering them for their loved one.
Families seeking more objective information about a nursing home may turn to the federal government’s Nursing Home Compare website, which contains a starred ranking system and is chock full of detailed information about facilities. It is estimated that the tool will be used 2.4 million times this year alone.
However, as the Times article explores, nursing homes have learned how to game the system, rendering the accuracy and reliability of the website’s information suspect and leading to inflated ratings that may not truly reflect how residents and their families feel about the care they are receiving.
Enter Yelp. While hardly scientific, reviews on the site can often provide more candid or insightful assessments about a nursing home and its staff from the people who actually have experience with the facility. Notably, the government’s Nursing Home Compare site lacks any consumer feedback.
Yelp is well aware that fake reviews are an issue for all of the businesses which appear on its site, and it makes great effort to identify and remove such entries. For consumers looking at nursing homes on the site, Yelp goes even further, providing information beyond just customer reviews. It partnered with ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news organization, to create a tool called Nursing Home Inspect. It includes information about deficiencies found during inspections and fines imposed and identifies facilities which have been called out for serious and repeated quality problems.
No matter how much time and research families put into their nursing home search, the trust they place in the facility they ultimately choose can still be broken. Abuse, neglect, negligence and other problems can have tragic consequences for seniors and cause pain, guilt, and outrage for families who have been betrayed by a nursing home or assisted living facility.
At Sommers Schwartz, the attorneys in our Medical Malpractice Litigation Group don’t tolerate seniors and other patients being abused, neglected, or mistreated by those entrusted with their care. If you or a loved one has suffered because of nursing home abuse and neglect, or suspect that a facility is engaging in such conduct, please contact us today.
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Andy Dragovic is a member of Sommers Schwartz's Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Groups. His practice is 100% dedicated to helping victims get compensation for their injuries and losses.