The numbers are in but they don’t add up. While the federal ratings used to measure the quality of the country’s nursing homes glow on paper, the transparency behind reporting protocols may not be so transparent. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) created a website to provide safety information regarding all skilled nursing facilities in North Carolina and around the country. The numbers for the information they publish is received directly from nursing homes approximately every three months.
Falls and bedsores
There appears to have been a subtraction of facts related to the published numbers, however. The revelation of reporting discrepancies came out of hiding as the number of insurance claims submitted to Medicare for injuries sustained in nursing homes showed higher numbers than reported to CMS. Medicare records list specific reasons for the patients’ hospital admission.
Several authoritative studies have been conducted to track patient care at nursing homes. What they found indicates that more work needs to be done to protect elderly residents. Some nursing homes, in particular, were repeat offenders. The Nursing Home Compare (NHC) database discovered a gross underreporting of some potential deadly illnesses and injuries. Bedsores for both short- and long-term patients were not accurately reported, with the former being 30% and the latter, 40% of underreporting. Falls that resulted in significant injuries also lacked truth in reporting to the tune of forty percent. One of the studies noted that roughly 22% percent of nursing homes with four- or five-star ratings actually underreported physical anomalies.
They agree to disagree
Given that ratings play a great role in a family’s decision regarding nursing home admissions, there may be an incentive for for-profit nursing homes to control negative information. Yet, it should be noted that not everyone is on board with the interpretation of the alleged conclusions of underreporting. The chief medical officer of the American Health Care Association defends the quality of care residents receive in the nation’s nursing homes. The good news is that some of them have made strides in improving it. This is due to the dedicated caregivers who work in them, he believes.