Knight Chair in Investigative & Enterprise Reporting
‘Worst-performing nursing home’ — continued
Considerations for nursing home investigations
In 2007, the investigative reporting class at the University of Illinois expanded its assessment of the worst performing nursing home to include those in the Chicago metropolitan area. During the investigation, the class found online sources that could be applied to almost any investigation of nursing homes.
The sources are listed below by category.
The Web site of the public health department in your state is a good place to start to see if a nursing home has any violations on record. For instance, the students in the reporting class found the Quarterly Reports of Nursing Home Violators from 1999-2006 on the Web site for the Illinois Department of Public Health. The reports contain detailed statements of violations.
If your state does not post nursing home violations online, visit the site, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Nursing Home Compare. All violations found during state inspections are listed on this site. The CMS Nursing Home Compare site categorizes violations by type and includes a brief, generic description of each one, but the students found the site for the Illinois Department of Public Health provided more detailed accounts of violations.
The CMS puts state governments in charge of inspecting nursing homes. Because of that, states are required to report violations found in all Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes to the CMS. You can do the investigation using either the violations posted on either of the two Web sites.
An investigation can begin with the nursing home's Web site, but the students in the class found some nursing homes did not have sites, or there was no ownership information listed.
If you have trouble finding information about the owners, check the healthcare and family services Web site(s) in your state. In Illinois, nursing homes file a Financial and Statistical Report for Long-Term Care Facilities with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. View the reports online. Open a report for any nursing home and scroll down to section VII, Related Parties, where the name of the company that owns or manages the nursing home is listed.
From the report, you may not be able to tell if a nursing home is for-profit or nonprofit. Go to the CMS Nursing Home Compare site and enter the name of the nursing home. Click on "next step" to find the type of ownership.
The students found financial reports from Illinois nursing homes online. For example, you can find how much a certain nursing home spends on food. You can even determine how much money a nursing home is spending on food per patient each day. Check the Web site of your state's healthcare and family services department to find nursing home financial reports.
Check Lexis-Nexis to see if the nursing home you are investigating was served with a lawsuit. Lawsuits are helpful in finding the names of employees who worked at the nursing home. You can type these names into a newspaper search engine to get background information on the employees.
If the nursing home you are investigating is owned by a big corporation, search the site of the Securities and Exchange Commission to see if there are significant lawsuits.
Go to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration site and do a search for the name of the nursing home. The results will include links to health and safety standards related to nursing homes.
EMPLOYEES AND ADMINISTRATORS
In Illinois you can get the names of nursing home administrators from the Financial and Statistical Reports filed with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. If you also have names of nurses and other employees you found in a court case, serach for those names on the Web site of your state's professional regulation department. In Illinois you can also search for license violations by nursing home name. For example, go to the site for the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation. Click on "License Look-up" and then select a profession, such as "nursing home administrator" or "LPN-nurse practical, licensed." If you know the employee's license number, the search function also allows you to find the employee's name.
NURSING HOME RANKINGS
The students found several private, nonprofit nursing home consumer services that rank nursing homes online. The American Association of Retired Persons has a state-by-state guide to finding nursing home report cards. The American Health Care Association, which represents more than 10,000 nursing homes, has statistics on staffing and the performance of nursing homes. Consumer Health Ratings offers a list of organizations that rate nursing homes and trends in nursing home use. Hospital-Data.com has statistics on every nursing home in the country. And MemberoftheFamily.net compiles a "National Watch List" of homes recently cited for violations or that have had substantiated complaints made against them. The site maintains an "Honor Roll" of nursing homes without violations.
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