New Analysis Finds Wide Disparities in Quality of U.S. Nursing Home Care
Long-term care quality ratings vary widely among different institutions across the country, according to a Scripps Howard News Service analysis of CMS' Nursing Home Compare system, SHNS/Ventura County Star reports.
The analysis examined CMS ratings of nearly 16,000 nursing homes across the country. The agency began posting the ratings on its Nursing Home Compare Web site last year.
The rating system uses a five-star scale to rate facilities on issues such as bed sores, fire safety and food preparation.
The SHNS analysis examined the CMS data and found that:
- Facilities operated by for-profit organizations tended to have lower ratings than not-for-profit institutions;
- Institutions with higher nurse-to-patient ratios generally had higher ratings;
- Long-term care facilities with more than 100 beds tended to have lower scores for all categories;
- Nursing homes located in Southern states generally had lower ratings, while Northeastern facilities tended to achieve higher scores; and
- Slightly more than 20% of U.S. nursing homes regularly received the lowest ratings, while 12% to 13% received the highest score.
Challenges of Quality Comparison
Some observers have criticized the Nursing Home Compare system for excluding certain factors from its rating rubric. For example, the site does not include patient-satisfaction ratings or in-depth data on specific staffing levels.CMS officials said they are working to add more comprehensive information to the site. In the meantime, the agency suggested that consumers should use the system as a starting point when evaluating options for nursing home care (Bowman/Hargrove, SHNS/Ventura County Star, 12/1). 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.