Nursing Home Safety Website Underreports Falls

Falls in nursing homes are a leading cause of death among the elderly Americans, and they can lead to other serious injuries. Patients of nursing homes become fearful of walking again for fear of re-injury. Falls are a discrete event and easy to identify and record, compared to other clinical conditions on Nursing Home Compare such as pressure ulcers or infections, so there should be a wealth of reliable data.The website Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sponsors, is a go-to resource for many families researching nursing home options for their loved ones. The number of falls that lead to injury is a critical category of concern for nursing home residents throughout the country. 

Prachi Sanghavi, an assistant professor in public health sciences at the University of Chicago, has uncovered significant discrepancies between the falls calculations used for Nursing Home Compare’s ratings and actual Medicare claims for falls from nursing home residents  from 2011-2015.  Sanghavi found that the Nursing Home Compare’s Minimum Data Set  only accounted for less than 58 percent of falls. Nursing homes self-report the data. Reporting rates were higher for white residents 59 percent than non-white residents, 46 percent, and for long-term stays 63 percent, than short-term stays, 47 percent.

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