Government Begins Releasing Quality Data on Nursing Homes

The Department of Health and Human Services has released quality of care statistics for 2,500 nursing homes in six states and plans to publish similar data for nursing homes in all states by the fall.

The six states for which the Department released the data are: Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington. The new data, which is available on the Web for the selected states at, reports the percentage of residents in a given nursing home who:

  • need more help with daily activities
  • have infections
  • are in pain
  • have bedsores
  • are in physical restraints
  • have lost too much weight
  • improved in walking

The data also tracks the percentage of 'short stay' residents with delirium and with pain.

The Department says the new statistics will help people select nursing homes and will encourage facilities to correct deficiencies. The statistics are based entirely on data supplied by nursing homes as part of their participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

There are concerns that the quality of care data may be misleading because it is not adequately adjusted for variations in the patient populations of different nursing homes. For example, a nursing home providing good care could look bad because its residents tend to be sicker and more frail, while a facility providing poor care could look good because its residents are healthier.

It has also been pointed out that the government uses the same data to determine reimbursement rates for facilities, giving nursing homes conflicting incentives. If the data they report makes their patients look sicker, they get more money, while the quality of care statistics look better if the patients are healthier.

An official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is managing the project, said that the data has been adequately adjusted and provides a fair reflection of nursing home quality.