CMS data shows room for improvement for many Illinois nursing homes

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), more than 1.4 million people in the US are residents of nursing homes. And, while nursing-home living will likely become more common as the nation's population ages, the decision to move a family member to a nursing facility is nevertheless one that should not be taken lightly - especially given the dangers associated with nursing home neglect and abuse.

In an effort to help families make informed nursing home decisions, U.S. News & World Report maintains a database in which people can review the rankings of thousands of nursing homes throughout the country, including those in Illinois.

These particular rankings - which range from one to five stars, with five being the best - are based upon data and ratings made available by CMS, the agency responsible for overseeing federal payments to nursing homes. Specifically, information and records related to health inspections, nurse staffing and care quality are used when determining these ratings.

Sadly, while recent numbers indicate that several nursing homes in Illinois are sufficient enough to receive a high score of five stars, many others are not. In fact, of the 764 nursing homes reviewed in Illinois, 233 have been given ratings of only one or two stars - a number that translates to over 30 percent of all nursing homes. Chicago, unfortunately, fairs even worse than the state as a whole. For example, 32 percent of all nursing homes examined in Chicago have been given a rating of two stars or less.

The dangers of Illinois nursing home abuse

These statistics certainly indicate that there is still significant room for improvement in the quality of care that many Illinois nursing homes provide. However, until such improvement is made, it is likely that nursing home abuse or neglect will exist in some form - making it extremely important for victims to be aware of their rights and options.

For instance, a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect may be able to bring a negligence claim against the nursing home in order recover damages for his or her injuries. Additionally, a nursing home resident in Illinois may be protected by the state's Nursing Home Care Act (NHCA), which provides that an owner of a nursing home is "liable to a resident for any intentional or negligent act or omission of their agents or employees which injures the resident."

Ultimately, however, every person's situation is different. If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney. An attorney can fully explain your rights and help investigate any allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the nursing home and its employees.