GAO Report Calls CMS Nursing Home Quality Guide ‘Premature’
One day after CMS launched a guide detailing the quality of care at all 17,000 nursing homes nationwide, the General Accounting Office released a report labeling the guide "premature" and saying that its information might be "confusing and inaccurate," the Contra Costa Times reports (Peele, Contra Costa Times, 11/14). The guide, available online or via telephone, 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. 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. The ratings will be updated every three months (California Healthline, 11/12).
While the guide has "admirable goals," CMS "rushed it into use," and the data "creates ample opportunity for the public to be confused," the GAO report says. The report adds that the guide does not give consumers "apples to apples" comparisons that can be easily understood and that some of the guide's data may be "flawed." The Times reports that the GAO report calls for a delay to "further refine the project." But in a review of the report, CMS Administrator Tom Scully wrote, "Waiting for more reliability, more validity, more accuracy and more usefulness will delay needed public accountability" (Contra Costa Times, 11/14). The complete GAO report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report. The nursing home guide is available online at http://www.medicare.gov or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.