New app lets users search nursing home deficiencies by keyword

A consumer-targeted Internet tool unveiled Tuesday allows users to search the federal nursing home inspection reports and deficiencies by keyword, city and facility name.

The Nursing Home Inspect database covers nearly 118,000 deficiencies at 14,565 homes. Designed by ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism, Nursing Home Inspect uses data from surveyor reports published on Medicare’s recently overhauled Nursing Home Compare website. But with Nursing Home Inspect, users can now search the database by keywords such as “elopement” or “pressure sore” or “mistreat.”

The ProPublica project hones in on the narrative part of a surveyor’s most recent periodic review, where the conditions and deficiencies are described. A tipsheet from the group cautions users that inspection reports focus only on a given facility’s problems, not the accomplishments or improvements that home has made, and describes the results as giving a “snapshot.” Long-term care providers have repeatedly expressed concerns that consumers will misinterpret government data.