Rating Nursing Homes—The Five-Star Quality Rating System

In a previous post from this week, our Maryland Nursing Home Attorneys reported on basic planning tips for families searching for the right nursing home environment that promotes proper care, protects the health and safety of the resident, and is free from nursing home neglect and abuse.

One recommendation was for families to search Nursing Home Compare, the database from the from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS), that ranks around 16,000 Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes in the country on a Five-Star Quality Rating.

The Five-Star Quality Rating was developed to help residents, families, and caregivers compare nursing facilities by giving them a snapshot of the current status of health inspections, staffing for each nursing home, and quality measures. This rating system developed as a direct result of the continued efforts made since the nursing home reform law enacted in 1987, the Omnibus Reconciliation Act (OBRA ’87).

The Nursing Home Compare Website uses this quality rating system to give each nursing home a score ranging from one to five stars. One star gives a much below average quality ranking, whereas a five star rating gives a much above average quality ranking.

In order to be a part of the Medicaid and Medicare programs, certified nursing homes are required to meet more than 180 regulatory standards put into place by Congress to protect the residents, ranging from medication management, protecting residents from abuse and neglect, to resident safety and food preparation. The inspection team in every state looks at the quality of care residents are receiving—from staff and resident interaction, to the entire nursing home environment.

According to Thomas Hamilton, the director of the survey and certification group at CMS, these ratings offer families a starting point to compare quality ratings within their state, with objective information on nursing homes, as well as quality measures that clarify the distinctions between homes across the country. Hamilton recommends that once families narrow down homes on the list, they should then visit the facilities and talk to residents and families, and ask the administrators specific questions about quality of care and staffing.

If a resident in a nursing home becomes injured or dies because the nursing home failed to protect the health and safety of the resident, the facility could be held liable for nursing home negligence or wrongful death. Our attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers represent victims and their families that wish to recover personal injury compensation from nursing home negligence and harm. Contact us today.

Nursing Homes…Plan Early and Carefully When Choosing a Facility, Scripps Howard News Service, November 28, 2009

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services, (CMS)

National Consumer Voice For Quality Long-Term Care, (NCCNHR): Advocate Fact Sheets

U.S. Nursing Home Information & Registry from Member of the Family

Medicare Nursing Home Compare

Maryland Department of Aging

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