New Tool for Finding Flaws in Nursing Home Care

The public-interest investigative news agency ProPublica has introduced a website to enable consumers to search government inspection reports of nursing homes throughout the country. Nursing Home Inspect offers thousands of recent reports from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Until recently, consumers, researchers and journalists had to file formal Freedom of Information Act requests to view this data — or visit in person, because homes are required by law to make them available.

The federal agency made the data available online last month, but ProPublica has made it user-friendly by enabling searches by keyword and city as well as a facility’s name. It searches CMS reports for facility descriptions and the deficiencies the agency uncovers.

There are more than 15,000 nursing homes in the U.S. As the CMS releases furture inspection reports in the future, ProPublica will update its site.

ProPublica says its nursing home picture is a snapshot and not necessarily comprehensive for homes nationwide. It advises that because different inspectors write reports differently, consumers should try several different search terms to get the most complete results.

For example, a common problem like pressure wounds (also known as bed sores) can develop if a resident is confined to bed and staffers do not turn the person often enough. Searching for “pressure sore” returned 2,121 results; searching for “bed sore” returned 1,946 results, some of them duplicates.

To see the complete list of tips for using the Nursing Home Inspect program, click here.

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