A Quick Way to Check the Safety of a Hospital or Nursing Home

Patients who want to probe beyond the glossy pamphlets and flashy web sites of a hospital or nursing home to see what the real scoop is on the safety track record have one simple way to get the official government inspection report: Ask for it. You have a legal right to a copy.

The report is called a CMS 2567. That’s the form from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that is filled out by the inspectors. It lists “deficiencies” in one column, and the institution’s plan for fixing the deficiencies in the adjacent column. The inspectors work directly for regional offices of CMS or work for the state Health Department. In either case, you have a right to see the institution’s report.

Here is a blank sample from the government. Here is an example of a report about a California hospital’s deficiencies in counting sponges in an operation.

Consumers Union has an very good web page on how to read these forms. The information is oriented mostly to nursing homes but also applies to hospitals. Click here to read.

If the institution claims it doesn’t have a copy of the report readily available, you can write to CMS or your state health department and obtain a copy under the Freedom of Information Act.

Investigative reporters for news organizations have used these reports to expose shocking problems at medical institutions.

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