Self-reported quality data from special focus facilities is unreliable, report suggests

Share this content:

Self-reported quality and staffing information from nursing homes categorized as Special Focus Facilities (SFFs) is unreliable and should not be published on Medicare's Nursing Home Compare website, a new report suggests.

Special Focus Facilities, which are nursing homes identified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as providing poor quality of care, have a tendency to over-report their staffing levels and their own quality measures, according to results of a Center Medicare Advocacy study. The number of federal deficiency citations issued over a three-year period determines what constitutes poor quality of care.

SFFs get extra attention from state regulators, undergoing at least two surveys per year instead of one. But investigators found that these facilities frequently reported high staffing levels and high resident assessment data, despite low marks from regulators. The Nursing Home Compare website, which is designed to help consumers find a good nursing home, was recently overhauled.

“Moreover, the implications of these findings may be significant as proposals are offered in Congress and at CMS to ‘streamline' the survey process,” the study states. “Proposals using facilities' self-reported staffing and quality measures to identify facilities that can have a less intense annual survey or a less-than-annual survey are suspect and should be rejected.”

Click here to read the full report.