Monday, September 03, 2012

Tool allows detailed examination of inspection reports from nursing homes all over the U.S.

Journalists now have a tool at their fingertips that will allow them to find out about problems in their local long-term care facilities. (iStock photo)

The application is operated by ProPublica, a nonprofit, investigative news group, and allows "anyone to easily search and analyze the details of recent nursing home inspections, most completed since January 2011," report Charles Ornstein and Lena Groeger.

The tool has features that the federal government's Nursing Home Compare tool lacks, including the ability to search using any keyword. Results can also be sorted according to the severity of the violation, and by state. It has already resulted in several significant news stories, Ornstein reports, giving examples and tips on how to use the application.

About 1.5 million people still live in nursing homes nationwide, though more seniors are living at home or in assisted-living facilities. The reports show there were almost 118,000 deficiencies cited against 14,565 homes. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the average number of deficiencies for a nursing home inspected in the U.S. is eight. ProPublica's analysis shows Texas had the most deficiencies in the country by far, with 183. 

While ProPublica ranks the states, nursing-home industry officials say "inspectors in different regions of the country have different thresholds for issuing a citation, and that could unfairly make one state's homes appear worse than another's," Ornstein and Groeger report. (Read more)

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