A masked doctor speaks with two nursing home residents

The American Medical Association has officially adopted a resolution by a long-term care advocate calling for a public listing of medical directors for the nation’s nursing homes. 

At a delegates meeting this week, the AMA pledged to advocate for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to host the proposed list of medical directors in order to “promote healthcare transparency and consumer access to quality healthcare.”

The resolution was introduced by AMDA—The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine to highlight what it says is the largely invisible role medical directors play in the long-term care industry. 

Patients, families unaware

The public is generally unaware of who nursing home medical directors are and what they do, according to AMDA. The resolution noted that this lack of transparency limits oversight and forces residents and families to seek redress for clinical care deficiencies through state public health departments. This, in turn, may eliminate the chances for early intervention and leave root causes unaddressed, it stated.

In addition, some nursing homes hire medical directors solely to make facility referrals, or hire professionals without adequate training in geriatric care or knowledge of the industry’s “complex regulatory framework,” according to the resolution’s authors.

No contact with surveyors

The White House’s recent introduction of a nursing home reform proposal encouraged AMDA to bring these issues to the forefront. In a statement applauding the AMA’s adoption of its resolution as policy, it noted that nursing home medical directors often do not interact with nursing home survey teams. Yet surveyors assess compliance based largely on the quality requirements the medical director is responsible for overseeing under federal regulations that outline the director’s role.

Lack of a universal listing also limits outreach to these clinicians, Christopher E. Laxton, CAE, AMDA’s executive director, added.

“For too long, the federal government has been content to let the role of the nursing home medical director be largely invisible,” he said in a statement. “Especially during COVID, the absence of a public listing of medical directors has hampered the rapid flow of critical clinical information and guidance to nursing homes. For the AMA to recognize this as a need validates our advocacy and supports further action in public policy.”

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