SNF report cards not perfect, but important, new study says

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A Web-based grading system has been found to improve certain aspects of nursing home care. Researchers recently examined results found on the Nursing Home Compare portion of www.medicare.gov and found improvements in instances of physical restraint and short-term pain.  

There were, however, no improvements in other facets of care, including percentages of those able to perform activities of daily living and those with new infections or pressure ulcers, said researcher Dana Mukamel, Ph.D., of the Center for Health Policy Research and the Department of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine. "This may reflect the longer lead time required before improvement can be observed in these other areas of care," she said. 

Marilyn Rantz, Ph.D., R.N., a researcher in nursing home quality at the University of Missouri, agree: "The lack of improvement in infections, pressure ulcers and the ability to perform living skills doesn't mean the report cards aren't useful.

 "Report cards are not perfect, but we've got to have some sort of measurement not only for the nursing home industry to use, but for consumers to compare nursing homes," she added. "This study provides evidence that quality report cards are useful tools." 

The study will appear online and in the upcoming issue of Health Services Research.