Recently, the national nursing home rating system has come under fire. Troubling reports have led to skepticism of the system’s reliability. Self-reporting, poor oversight, and little to no accountability make the current system unreliable for information on nursing home conditions. To combat the problem, an updated tool is receiving recognition. Created by ProPublica in 2021, the Nursing Home Inspect website allows you to view health inspection documents, see deficiency numbers, and show COVID-19-specific information.
Unreliability of the CMS Rating System
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) launched a national nursing home rating system in 2008. The five-star system was created to allow caregivers and families to compare nursing home standards during the process of choosing a facility to care for elderly patients and family members.
Based on a scale from 1 to 5 stars, nursing homes are given four separate ratings—one for healthcare inspection results, one for quality measures, and one for staffing. The final rating combines the results from the other three areas into an overall rating.
While the CMS system exists to serve a useful purpose, serious flaws have come to light, limiting the reliability of the star-rating system. The problematic areas include:
Unreliable self-reported data that omits problematic instances
Misuse of the star ratings to advertise rather than demonstrate quality
Failure to audit health report findings and fix issues
Hiding or temporarily addressing issues to get a better health inspection report
Altering staff hours to show a higher staff-to-patient ratio
Altering or omitting instances of neglect, abuse, and mistreatment on medical reports
The serious flaws in the current rating system have led to nursing homes with sub-par care facilities and undertrained staff members that boast high ratings. When this occurs, families believe their elderly loved one is in a safe, respectable nursing home, when in reality, they are at risk of suffering abuse and neglect.
An Updated Tool: Nursing Home Inspect
Nursing Home Inspect, an online database created by ProPublica in 2012, is a valuable tool containing updated, reliable data for those seeking information on nursing homes for their elderly relatives.
Unlike the rating system, Nursing Home Inspect provides factual data that is compiled from CMS inspection reports. It does not include any self-reported data that might skew results. Additionally, there is no star rating on Nursing Home Inspect. Instead, you will find hard numbers and digital copies of the actual health inspections performed in these facilities.
Nursing Home Inspect provides users with the following helpful features:
Nearly 80,000 inspection reports
An interactive map feature for easy searchability
Ability to search by state, COVID-19-era deficiencies, fines, or serious deficiencies
Ability to search reports with keywords such as “choke” or “maggots”
Categorizations by color for easy differentiation
View fines in dollar amount from the past three years
View PDF reports from the last 3 years
Updated COVID-19 information since May 2020
View nursing homes by state and individual home
Helpful top 20 lists that quickly let you see the best and worst homes
Benefits of the New Tool
With updated information and helpful features, families and caregivers of the elderly find several benefits in using this updated tool.
Using Nursing Home Inspect, you can search nursing homes near you to discover patterns and repeat deficiencies. You can quickly and easily see which homes have serious problems that endanger patients and which homes have the fewest violations.
You have access to several different search options depending on your specific needs and concerns, and most importantly, you can view health inspection reports to read the details for yourself.
This tool saves you time by compiling all the information that is already available into a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate website based on actual numbers and data rather than self-reported information.
Justice for Elder Abuse and Neglect
Tools like Nursing Home Inspect go a long way toward preventing nursing home abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, these types of abuses are still widespread. If a loved one suffered neglect or abuse from employees at their care facility, contact an Alabama nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible to seek justice for their emotional and physical damages.