Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect - Glossary of Terms

When families are looking for safe nursing home facilities for their loved ones, they may encounter some unfamiliar terminology. Nursing home inspection reports and safety records aren’t necessarily easy to interpret, and families may be unaware of the various resources available to them.

Following is a glossary of common terms and brief descriptions of official organizations that are involved in the fields of elder care and nursing home oversight. This information may be of benefit to families researching nursing homes in advance of a relative’s stay, or for families who believe their loved one is being abused or neglected in a long-term care facility.

If a relative in nursing home care has suffered an illness or injury that you believe was caused by neglect or abuse, contact the law office of John R. Colvin today for a free consultation: 1-931-962-1044.

Glossary of Terms

Area Agencies on Aging and Disability (AAAD) – AAADs are state-level offices serving specific regions; Tennessee has nine regional offices. AAAD offices specialize in advising families about resources that may allow elderly relatives to continue living in their own homes, rather than in a nursing home, and they can provide recommendations about transitioning a relative out of nursing home care back to independent living.

CASPER – This acronym stands for “Certification and Survey Provider Enhanced Reports” which are also known as Quality Measure Reports. The CASPER data includes quality measure information regarding nursing home patients, facilities, and staff. Families may use the data to review and compare long-term care options for their loved ones.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) – The governmental entity responsible for oversight of nursing homes and enforcement of fines for health and safety violations.

Centralized Complaint Intake Unit – This is Tennessee’s official department for handling complaints about health care facilities, including nursing homes. Families may call a toll-free phone number to make a complaint or fill out a one-page form, specifying their concerns.

Deficiencies – Problems in nursing homes revealed during an inspection, such as poor staffing levels, improper food storage procedures, and disorganized or inaccurate recordkeeping.

Division of Health Care Facilities – Tennessee’s office that inspects nursing homes. Inspection reports are available to the public online.

Exploitation – Illegal misuse, misappropriation, or concealment of a nursing home resident’s funds, property, or assets.

Long Term Care Ombudsman – A state or local official who can provide families with information about nursing homes, such as safety inspection reports. An ombudsman may also investigate complaints on behalf of nursing home residents.

Pressure Ulcers – Also called pressure sores, these skin lesions are caused by staying in one position for an excessive amount of time and are often an indicator that a nursing home resident is suffering from neglect or that a nursing home is unsanitary. Pressure ulcers commonly afflict people who are bedridden, especially if they lack the physical strength to roll over or change position.

Sepsis – This inflammatory illness causes rapid deterioration in health, especially in elderly patients with compromised immune systems. Usually, sepsis is preceded by a localized infection, such as a respiratory infection, a skin infection caused by a pressure ulcer, or infection from non-sterile medical devices. In nursing homes, sepsis is often associated with substandard care, and the related blood infection septicemia is the most common reason nursing home residents are moved to hospitals for medical treatment.

Severity Score – A letter-grade that specifies how serious a particular nursing home deficiency is, ranging from A (least serious) to L (most serious). In Tennessee, during the last three years of nursing home inspections, five homes have received a total of 25 L-level deficiencies. D-level deficiencies – which are problems that are isolated, but have the potential to cause harm – were the most common in inspection reports, accounting for 3,900 citations between June 2011 and February 2016.

Special Focus Facilities (SFF) – These are long-term care facilities that the CMS has determined have an unusually high number of serious deficiencies or a pattern of serious, uncorrected deficiencies. When a nursing home is placed into this category, it is subject to more frequent inspections, and if it fails to make significant improvements, the CMS may terminate its participation in Medicaid and Medicare programs.

Help for Families

Many nursing homes have a record of providing quality care and respecting the autonomy, privacy, and personal well being of all residents. But some nursing homes have been cited repeatedly for failing to properly care for residents, and in such settings, an elderly person can suffer a rapid decline in health.

If you believe your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, don’t wait to ask for help. Call us today at 1-931-962-1044, or fill out our online form, to request your free consultation.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama