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Federal Government Overhauling Rating System for Nursing Homes

As San Diego elder abuse attorneys, we know that choosing a nursing home for a loved one can be a daunting task, particularly in light of growing concerns about the quality of care they provide.

To help facilitate the process, the Obama Administration recently approved changes to the Five Star Quality Rating System for Nursing Homes, also known as Nursing Home Compare. The system, which is available online, allows consumers to make more informed decisions by providing information about the quality of care in the 15,800 nursing homes that participate in Medicare or Medicaid.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, while the onsite inspections form the core of the rating system, the agency is concerned that the quality measures and information about staffing levels rely on self-reported data from nursing homes that have been difficult to verify. In response, the following improvements to the Five Star Quality Rating System will be made beginning in 2015:

  • CMS and states will implement focused survey inspections nationwide for a sample of nursing homes to enable better verification of both the staffing and quality measure information that is part of the Five-Star Quality Rating System.
  • CMS will implement a quarterly electronic reporting system that is auditable back to payrolls to verify staffing information that is used to calculate quality measures for staff turnover, retention, types of staffing, and levels of different types of staffing.
  • CMS will strengthen requirements to ensure that states maintain a user-friendly website and complete inspections of nursing homes in a timely and accurate manner for inclusion in the rating system.

The Five Star Quality Rating System currently tracks the prevalence of pressure ulcers, use of restraints, extent of injurious falls, and information about the staffing levels in nursing homes. Starting January 2015, the rating system will also include the extent to which anti-psychotic medications are in use.