Feds praise quality initiative results

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The federal government's Nursing Home Quality Initiative has been a success in several areas, although clear or positive results are not apparent for many criteria, health officials declared at a Dec. 22 media conference.

Providers have made progress reducing the use of physical restraints (down 23% nationally from June 2002 to November 2004), according to the Department of Health and Human Services. And fewer residents are suffering from untreated pain (down 38% for long-stay residents and 11% for short stays).
But the percentage of residents with pressure sores grew a small amount and the portion of residents able to feed themselves, walk or use the bathroom without help did not budge.
Several thousand facilities that volunteered for help from hired consultants, however, fared better than the nursing home population in general and actually lowered pressure ulcer incidence slightly.
Provider advocates hailed the results as sure signs of progress.
Federal officials, including HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Mark McClellan both praised nursing home operators and challenged them to do more. They said information on www.Medicare.gov would be enhanced and investigations would be strengthened as part of a campaign to further ratchet up quality improvement efforts.