CMS To Unveil Nationwide Nursing Home Quality Ratings Guide Online
CMS today will release a guide on the quality of care at all 17,000 of the nation's nursing homes as part of its Nursing Home Quality Initiative, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The guide rates nursing homes based on 10 "quality indicators," including number of residents with an "unexpected" loss of ability in basic tasks; residents with bed sores; residents with pain; residents in physical restraints; residents with infections; limited-stay residents with delirium; and short-stay residents with an improved ability to walk (Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/11). The guide also will include information regarding deficiencies discovered in annual inspections and data on complaint investigations. Such information is based on data collected routinely by nursing homes as a requirement to participate in Medicare (Carter, AP/Hartford Courant, 11/12). The ratings will be updated every three months, the Post-Gazette reports. CMS will begin publicizing the ratings tomorrow by placing full-page advertisements in more than 70 newspapers nationwide (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/11). The program, an expansion of a pilot project that began earlier this year in six states, will spend $120 million over the next three years to assist nursing homes in identifying quality of care problems and provide them with other help in meeting quality goals (Teegardin, Contra Costa Times, 11/12). In addition, CMS has contracted with private companies that will serve as consultants to help individual nursing homes improve their ratings in each category, as well as educate the public regarding the quality ratings.
"While the public reporting measures are not yet perfect, it does get us started on the road to being judged by standardized, research-based information. ... It's a good first step," Ron Barth, president of the Port Alberni Non-Profit Housing Association, said (Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/11). Federal health officials said they hope the new ratings will give nursing homes an incentive to improve quality. "In the long run, the real goal for consumers is to raise the level of quality, to raise the whole level of debate," CMS Administrator Tom Scully said. Still, patient advocates warn that consumers should not select a nursing home solely based on the new ratings and recommend visiting the facility and speaking with current residents. "Consumers should take the time to investigate thoroughly," James Parkel, president of AARP, said (AP/Hartford Courant, 11/12).
The guide is available online or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.