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HKQ Firm News

RED ALERT: Flagging Nursing Homes with a History of Mistreatment

Choosing a nursing home for a loved one can be a complex, emotional decision. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of information on the internet that can help with your decision-making process.

In 2008 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a five-star rating system of nursing homes as part of the Nursing Home Compare website. The site details the quality of care at all CMS-certified nursing homes, which currently number over 1,500. (Nursing homes not certified by Medicare or Medicaid are not included on Nursing Home Compare. Those nursing homes may be licensed by a state.)

CMS recently enhanced the Nursing Home Compare website with the addition of a red consumer alert icon. It’s part of an effort to improve nursing home safety and quality in light of an increasing number of nursing home complaints and citations.

According to the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) nursing home complaints received by states have climbed from 32.7 per 1,000 residents in 2011 to 52 per 1,000 residents in 2018. Nearly half the 71,602 complaints handled in 2018 were considered “high-priority” because they described circumstances that caused or could have caused actual harm to residents. In addition, a June 2019 Government Accountability Office report indicated that abuse deficiencies cited in nursing homes more than doubled, increasing from 430 in 2013 to 875 in 2017, with the largest increase in severe cases.

The new icon makes it easier to quickly identify nursing homes with past citations for abuse. Consumers using the Nursing Home Compare website will see the consumer alert icon next to the name of the facilities that have been cited on inspection reports for one or both of the following:

• abuse that led to harm of a resident within the past year
• abuse that could have potentially led to harm of a resident in each of the last two years

CMS defines abuse as “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain or mental anguish. It includes verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and mental abuse”.

It is believed that the consumer alert icon will appear on the listings of approximately 5% of the facilities on the website. To ensure CMS is providing the latest information, the consumer alert status will be updated monthly, at the same time CMS inspection results are updated.

Although the consumer alert icon features a hand in the “halt” position, CMS indicates that the icon means “caution – individuals should investigate further”. The Center for Medicare Advocacy cautions that the absence of an alert icon on Nursing Home Compare does not necessarily indicate the absence of abuse. There are documented instances of state survey agencies (health inspectors) having missed problems or failing to cite violations.

HKQ Law supports initiatives that create a safer environment for nursing home residents. “We believe that it is everyone's responsibility to ensure that our senior citizens are treated with the care and dignity they deserve.” says HKQ Law personal injury attorney Brian Q. McDonnell.

If you believe that a loved one has suffered a substantial injury as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact an HKQ Law personal injury attorney at (800) 760-1529.

About HKQ Law

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Report, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm across multiple categories in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



As Hourigan, Kluger and Quinn addresses the concerns raised by COVID-19, the health and safety of our clients, employees and friends of the firm remain our top priority.

These are very difficult and scary times and we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and symptom free. We recognize that so many of you are understandably anxious about your health, the economic impact of this pandemic and all of the consequences of social isolation.

We also recognize that many of you are anxious about how the coronavirus is impacting the Court systems, our firm and your cases. Although all of our offices are closed, our firm has remained fully operational and we have initiated procedures that allow all of our attorneys and staff to work remotely from their homes. Each of us and our staff will respond to any emails and calls about your cases as quickly as possible.

Our Federal and State Courts have instituted significant changes in their calendars as a result of the coronavirus. Although most courthouses are closed to the public, and Hearings and Trials will be delayed for some time, there are matters that can proceed telephonically and by video. Despite these changes in the Court calendars, we are working diligently on your cases and are determined to do whatever we possibly can to assure an early and just recovery for you and your loved ones. Even under these difficult circumstances, we believe that "Nobody will work harder for you than we will."

With regard to new potential clients, we are not in a position to have an in-person new client meeting, but we will be conducting these initial meetings via phone. New potential clients should call us for a free telephone consultation at (570) 287-3000.


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