After analyzing 4,703 death certificates of folks who died at adult homes during a five-year span, The Seattle Times‘ Michael Berens found “at least 236 deaths that indicate neglect or abuse in these homes but were not reported to the state or investigated.”
In a sidebar, he explains that Times staff searched for cases that indicated neglect or low quality of care, and that the journalists’ careful standards and reliance on death certificates (none of which involved autopsies) means their estimate is likely on the low end.
There are almost 3,000 adult homes in Washington State. In the past decade, they’ve earned the state a national reputation for elder care innovation, but also opened a gaping hole in the regulatory fabric, as Berens has reported previously. On the whole, they’re billed as cheaper and more neighborhood-like than nursing homes. They’re also less regulated and, Berens found, more likely to fatally neglect patients. Here are his numbers:
… adult-home deaths indicating neglect occur at strikingly higher rates than comparable deaths at nursing homes:
- Pressure-sore deaths in adult homes occur at a rate more than 3.5 times higher.
- The rate of deaths from falls is four times higher.
- For choking deaths, the rate is 15 times higher.
Beyond the highlights, Berens’ piece is exhaustively researched, and most definitely required reading for anyone reporting from one of the dozens of states seeking to emulate Washington’s adult home system.