The website Nursing Home Compare, sponsored by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is a go-to resource for many families researching nursing home options for their loved ones. The number of falls that lead to injury are a critical category of concern for nursing home residents, however, a University of Chicago researcher has found that the data used by Nursing Home Compare to report patient safety related to falls may be highly inaccurate.
Prachi Sanghavi, PhD, an assistant professor in public health sciences at UChicago, uncovered significant discrepancies between the falls calculations used for Nursing Home Compare's ratings and actual Medicare claims for falls by nursing home residents from 2011-2015. She found that only 57.5% of falls were accounted for in the Nursing Home Compare's Minimum Data Set (MDS), which is self-reported by nursing homes. Reporting rates were higher for white residents (59%) than non-white residents (46%) and for long-term stays (62.9%) than short-term stays (47.1%). The findings were published December 29, 2019 in the journal Health Services Research .
This is a substantial amount of underreporting and is deeply concerning because without good measurement, we cannot identify nursing homes that may be less safe and in need of improvement." Prachi Sanghavi, PhD, assistant professor in public health sciences at UChicago A significant, yet preventable, risk
Falls are a leading cause of death among the over-65 population, and they can lead to other serious injuries. Patients become fearful of walking again for fear of reinjury, yet falls are considered widely preventable. They are a discrete event that is 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.
"That's why falls are a patient safety measure on Nursing Home Compare," Sanghavi said. "They reflect how well a nursing home does at preventing these injuries."
Sanghavi started her research with a data set of nearly 88.7 million Medicare admissions claims from 2011 to 2015. She narrowed the sample set in stages, zeroing in on nursing home residents who met several criteria. First, their fall occurred during their time in the nursing home. Second, they were discharged from the nursing home to go to a hospital. Third, the patient's Medicare claim was filed under the code for a major injury fall. Finally, they returned to the same nursing home after treatment for the fall. Related Stories
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