When Florida residents are looking for a facility to provide long-term quality care to an elderly relative, they often visit the federal government’s Nursing Home Compare website. Created in the 1990s by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the website awards nursing homes quality ratings of between one and five stars. These ratings are based on official and self-reported data, and they often contain inaccurate information according to a recent study.
Falls and bedsores
Nursing homes are required to report all serious falls and bedsores to the Compare website, but the results of the study suggest that not all of them do. When the researchers compared the falls and bedsores reported by nursing homes with hospital admission data, they found that 40% of the falls that led to hospitalization and 32% of the bedsores that led to hospitalization were not reported. The researchers believe that many other falls and bedsores not serious enough to require hospitalization also went unreported.
When researchers looked at the data they had gathered more closely, they noticed that nursing homes with more white residents tended to report more falls and fewer bedsores. They also found that the opposite was true when nursing homes had mostly Black residents. When asked to speculate about the connection between race and nursing home abuse and neglect, the University of Chicago assistant professor who led the research said the use of restraints could be a factor. White nursing home residents are restrained less often than Black nursing home residents, which means they are more likely to fall and less likely to develop pressure ulcers.
CMS changes its methodology
The CMS appears to be aware of the problems with self-reported data because it has changed the methodology it uses to rank and rate nursing homes. The data provided by nursing homes is no longer given as much weight, but it still appears on the website. The researchers behind this study believe that the CMS should check hospitalization data the way they did. If this was done, the Compare website would become far more useful to consumers.