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The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

November 27, 2012

New York Times Article Addresses Bed Rail Dangers

A recent article in the New York Times, highlighted the danger of bed rails and their regulation. From 2003 through May 2012, death certificates and hospital emergency room visits showed that 150 mostly older adults died after they became trapped in bed rails. Over nearly the same time period, 36,000 mostly older adults were treated in emergency rooms with bed rail injuries.

Experts who have studied the deaths say they are avoidable and that more warnings are needed, but there is a technical question over which regulator is responsible for some bed rails. The F.D.A. says consumer safety devices are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but the commission has long maintained that bed rails are medical devices and outside its mandate. However, recently the FDA has begun reviewing death and injuries attributed to bed rails, and the commission said it was coordinating with the FDA to find a way to close the regulatory gap between the two agencies.

“As the elderly population increases, we’re going to see more and more people cared for in their homes and assisted living facilities. Bed rails are widely used in both of these settings and it’s something we need to get a handle on,” said Robert S. Adler, a commissioner with the consumer safety agency.

Another recent article in Canada’s CTV News described the stories of several bed rail-related deaths and featured a video recounting the issue.

Consumer Voice is dedicated to preventing serious injuries and deaths amongst residents due to the use of bed rails and hopes to bring much-needed public attention to this matter. In June, Robyn Grant, Consumer Voice Director of Public Policy and Advocacy presented a statement on bed rails to the Consumer Product Safety Commission in which she highlighted the dangers of bed rail usage in long-term care facilities. Read Robyn’s statement here. In September, Consumer Voice signed on to a letter by Public Citizen, a leading national non-profit consumer advocacy organization, to the Federal Trade Commission concerning the deceptive advertising used by Bed Handles, Inc. to market its Bedside Assistant bed handles. Read the letter here.

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Online Placement Services for Senior Care Centers Agree to Settle with FTC

Two online placement services for senior care centers have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that they misled consumers to think that they had researched the facilities and had detailed knowledge about them. The proposed settlements prohibit respondents from misrepresenting their services in the future.

“Senior citizens need honest information when they’re considering long-term care options. Companies that claim to know which facilities to recommend to consumers need to be able to back up their claims or they will hear from the FTC,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

For more information, read the statement on the FTC’s website.

Documentary Addresses LGBT Seniors in the Care System

The critically-acclaimed documentary “Gen Silent” is available streamlining online for free for a limited time. The film asks six LGBT seniors if they will hide their friends, their spouses, their entire lives in order to survive the care system. Their unexpected choices are captured through intimate access to their day-to-day lives over the course of a year. It puts a face on what experts in the film call an epidemic – gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender older adults so afraid of discrimination by caregivers or bullying by other seniors that many simply go back into the closet.

Watch the documentary.

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Map Shows Federal Nursing Home Fines Across America

A new map shows all of this year’s federal nursing home fines across America (Source: Nursing Home Compare). Click on a pinpoint, and the name of the facility and fine amount appear.

View the map.

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CMS Declines to Make Changes to Observation Status

In final rules published November 15, 2012, CMS declined to make any changes to observation status at this time, promising that it will take all of the public comments that it received while considering future actions to provide more clarity regarding patient status. CMS’ response is dissatisfying when hospitals’ use of observation status is rising and adversely affecting Medicare beneficiaries nationwide. Plus, CMS previously solicited public comment on observation status in 2005 and decided, at that time, that it wanted to consider the issue further.

For more information on CMS’ decision, read the statement from the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.

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Consumer Voice Announces New Consumer Input Council

The Consumer Voice is launching a brand new Consumer Input Council as a way for consumers receiving services and supports at home to stay involved and informed on long-term care issues.

By joining the Consumer Input Council, participants will have the opportunity to regularly provide Consumer Voice staff members with feedback about their experiences with home care. That information will help guide the Consumer Voice in its policy work. In addition, participants will receive regular policy and advocacy updates and opportunities to take action themselves. The council will meet by phone, using a toll-free number.

This council is only open to consumers who receive long-term services and supports at home.

The first meeting of the Consumer Input Council will take place Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 from 2:00-3:15pm ET. If you receive long-term services and supports at home and would like to participate in the call, click here to register.

If you can't make the call, but would like to be part of this council, please contact Sara Cirba at scirba@theconsumervoice.org or at 202-332-2275 x 221.

We hope you join the Consumer Input Council and look forward to hearing from you December 11th!

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Kansas Nursing Home Maintains License Despite Deficiencies

The Royal Terrace Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Olathe, Kansas was recently cited for 21 deficiencies in its annual inspection. The deficiencies were health and safety problems that included issues such as failing to develop comprehensive care plans, not properly monitoring pain and the administration of pain medication, failing to prevent falls, failing to prevent the spread of infectious disease and failing to provide a clean environment for residents. Under federal and Kansas law, nursing homes are typically given a chance to cure their deficiencies, but the facility has not been able to fix all of their problems. The state licensing authority usually revokes the nursing home’s license to operate in cases such as this, but the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has made no such move against Royal Terrace.

For more information, read the article on KCTV5.

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About The Gazette

The Gazette is a weekly e-newsletter, published by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. If you do not wish to continue receiving this publication, please unsubscribe. Your contributions and comments are welcome and should be sent to swells@theconsumervoice.org. Copyright © 2011.

The Consumer Voice is the leading national voice representing consumers in issues related to long-term care, helping to ensure that consumers are empowered to advocate for themselves. We are a primary source of information and tools for consumers, families, caregivers, advocates and ombudsmen to help ensure quality care for the individual. The Consumer Voice's mission is to represent consumers at the national level for quality long-term care, services and supports.

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