Nursing home deficiencies, substandard care declining, federal regulators say

The percentage of nursing homes that received deficiency-free surveys is steadily increasing, according to a new data report released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The Nursing Home Data Compendium for 2015, published last Friday, includes data on nursing home characteristics, survey results and resident information. Data for the report was primarily gathered through the CASPER database for survey and certification information, population data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and the Minimum Data Set.

Data on nursing home surveys showed the likelihood that a facility would receive at least one health deficiency on a survey increased from 2005 to 2008, but reversed after that. The percentage of nursing home surveys that were deficiency-free increased from 8.8% in 2009 to 10.2% five years later.

The percentage of surveys that resulted in a finding of substandard quality of care also declined in recent years, from 4.4% of surveys in 2008 to 3.2% in 2014.

The CMS compendium also includes a list of the most frequently cited health deficiencies noted on surveys from 2005 to 2014. Among the top deficiencies were storing and cooking food in a safe and clean way, ensuring the facility is free of accident hazards, providing adequate supervision to prevent accidents, providing necessary care to improve resident well being and having a program that investigates and controls the spread of infections.

Overall, the CMS report found a gradual decline in the number of nursing homes over the past decade. Nineteen states had an increase in the number of facilities, with Alaska (20%), Nevada (8.2%) and Arizona (5.8%) experiencing the biggest increases in proportion of facilities. Vermont (7.5%), North Dakota (5.9%) and Maine (4.6%) had the biggest decline in skilled nursing facilities.

Click here to see the full Nursing Home Data Compendium for 2015.