We spend a lot of time talking about the problems with modern-day nursing homes, but I find the most important improvement in U.S. nursing homes is the development of Medicare’s nursing home compare website. The site provides a one-stop-shop for families seeking information on a particular facility or when researching facilities within a particular area.
Last week the site underwent some subtle– yet important changes that I optimistically believe will help make families gather important care information and ultimately improve the care that’s ultimately provided to patients.
- Easier Access to state agencies to file complaints
Consumers will be able to link directly to the state agency that investigates and responds to complaints. Further consumers can access a standardized complaint form that can be faxed to the state agency.
- More Prominent Consumer Rights
Nursing home patients have considerable rights granted them under federal and state laws. A new portion of the Medicare Nursing Home Compare will enumerate what exactly the rights are and provides access to nursing home ombudsman who can help assist in many situations where there may be a disagreement between the indivudual and the nursing home.
- Specific Violation Information For Each Facility (Well, Coming in July)
Beginning July, 2011 specific information regarding the number of substantiated complaints were made against individual facilities and the instances involving fines and restrictions on new admissions will be available for every facility.
Lastly, while not a specific change to the website, CMS will impose a nursing home rating freeze in October. Essentially, the five-star rating system will be deactivated to account for the new data reported by nursing homes using in accordance with a new system (MDS 3.0 QM v. MDS 2.0). Star-rating data with the new data will likely be available in 2012.
As a nursing home lawyer, I strongly support these changes and look forward to the continual evolution of the government’s web resources. In addition, I suggest taking a look at Nursing Home Injury Laws, which contains both similar resource links, but also state-by-state laws and information on common nursing home injuries.