Feds Enhance Site for Comparing Nursing Homes

There is now more information available to help families evaluate nursing homes. The federal government has revamped the criteria on its "Nursing Home Compare" Web site, where consumers can compare nursing home care in the United States. In addition, new information about complaints against nursing homes will soon be available on the site.

The government has approved 21 new quality-of-care measures that assess patients' experiences at both long-term care and short-term care facilities. The new measures focus on pressure ulcers (bed sores), self-reported pain, falls, infections, and general patient well-being. Among the new measures are ones that look at the percentage of residents in a facility who report that they have moderate to severe pain, the percentage of residents assessed and appropriately given the vaccine to prevent pneumonia, and the percentage of residents who were physically restrained. The 17 measures that were previously in place have been retired.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will use the new measures on Nursing Home Compare, an online database where consumers can search for nursing homes in their area and compare their quality of care. The measures are designed to help consumers better understand the quality of care provided in nursing homes and allow nursing homes to compare their performance with nearby facilities.

In addition, soon CMS will begin posting even more information to its Home Compare site. Beginning in July 2011, Nursing Home Compare will list the number of civil money penalties and other enforcement actions against the nursing home for the past three years, as well as the number of substantiated complaints against the nursing home and the number of incidents reported by residents for the past three years.

To visit Nursing Home Compare, click here.

For more information about the new quality measures, including a list of the 21 new measures, click here.