Nursing-home care improves with consumer access to quality data
WASHINGTON – About 35,000 fewer nursing home residents are kept in restraints on a daily basis – down 23 percent from two years ago – according to a federal report released Wednesday that also found fewer patients in pain.
The Bush administration, the nursing-home industry and patient advocates said the declines show the value of the administration’s 2-year-old program to tackle serious quality problems in many homes by requiring the nation’s 16,400 nursing homes to disclose data on care.
The information is posted to help consumers make better choices and to prompt the homes to improve their performance. It is available on the government’s Web site, http://www.medicare.gov, or by calling 1-800-633-4227.
“When we made these measurements public, then people paid attention,” said John Rother, policy director for the 35-million member seniors’ group AARP.
All the information is based on data the nursing homes must routinely collect from residents as part of their participation in the federal Medicare program.
About 1.6 million people live in nursing homes daily. During a year, more than 3 million people have a nursing home stay, the report from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said.
In the middle of 2002, 9.7 percent of nursing home residents were restrained on any day. Two years later, the number was 7.5 percent.
Patients kept in restraints can become weak, lose their ability to use the bathroom on their own, and develop bed sores. Restraints should only be used when ordered by a doctor as part of a patient’s medical treatment, according to federal law.
Measurements of pain among long-term and short-term nursing-home patients also improved, dropping 38 percent and 11 percent, respectively.