NHQI showing positive results in areas of chronic pain, physical restraints

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Two years after the Department of Health and Human Services launched the Nursing Home Quality Initiative, fewer nursing home residents suffer from chronic pain and fewer physical restraints are being used in homes, Tommy Thompson, secretary of the department, disclosed Wednesday during a media conference.

According to data collected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a division of HHS, 100% of states reported a decrease in the prevalence of chronic pain in nursing home patients since the program began in November 2002. Nationally, the prevalence of long-term pain decreased by 38% and the use of physical restraints fell by 23%.

But data also revealed that the percent of patients with pressure ulcers rose slightly since measurements for the initiative began, to 8.7% from 8.5%. Also, results for some of the 15 quality measures are unknown. The government started the initiative to better inform the public and providers about the quality of homes nationwide. It examined the homes based on 15 quality measures and posted results on its Web site: www.medicare.gov.

In addition, CMS disclosed new quality initiatives Wednesday. It said that seven states will participate in a background check for new nursing home workers. The agency also said it will require states to use a standard complaint tracking system that would help better track and analyze complaints from residents, family members and others.