US Nursing Home Ratings Analyzed

A statistical analysis of the federal government's first-ever ratings of nearly 16,000 nursing homes reveals an uneven level of quality and the complications of finding a good nursing home. The Scripps Howard News Service found the following when they analyzed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Nursing Home Compare database:

• Institutions run by for-profit corporations (about two-thirds of all long term care facilities) generally get lower scores than those run by nonprofit groups.

• Homes with more nursing staff per patient, which also tend to be run by nonprofit groups, generally do better in the ratings.

• Homes with more than 100 beds tend to get lower scores in all categories, including health of residents and level of nursing care.

• Ratings are lowest in Southern states, particularly for nursing care and registered-nurse staffing, and highest for homes in the Northeast.

• Slightly more than 20 percent of nursing homes nationwide have been regularly given the lowest ratings, and 12 percent to 13 percent have received the top rating.

The government ratings -- on a one- to five-star scale -- "offer families the first objective information on nursing-home-quality measures with meaningful distinctions between all nursing homes across the U.S.," said one CMS official.

The rating system, implemented late last year, includes everything from fire safety and food preparation to rates of residents suffering from bedsores.It is intended to help families compare nursing homes but only on a preliminary level. CMS still recommends that families speak with employees and current residents and their families to get a good feel for any nursing home. For more, read the story.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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