One of the main websites used by families to find a good nursing home is Nursing Home Compare. It’s sponsored by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, so it should be trustworthy. However, a study done by a professor at The University of Chicago has shown that the reports on that site may not be as accurate as you think.
Scienmag reported on the study. It found that many fall incidents reported in Medicare claims were not reported on the Nursing Home Compare website. Only 57.5% of falls were accounted for.
Why the difference? The data for Nursing Home Compare is self-reported from nursing homes. They have an interest in making themselves look safer than they are. Hospital claims, on the other hand, need to be paid and there’s no incentive to hide data.
The researchers looked at a small subset of claims for their analysis. They wanted to find people who fell in a nursing home, went to the hospital, got categorized by Medicare as a major injury fall, then went back to the same nursing home. They identified 150,828 major injury falls between 2011 and 2015, but only 57.5% of these were reported by the homes. Worse, far fewer falls were reported for people of color and short-term stay patients.
This is a sign that the main site used by families to gather information about where to put their loved ones has serious flaws. The researchers believe that Nursing Home Compare should use a more objective source of data to make their assessments.