Sunshine Week: How to check out the nursing home where you're putting grandma

Thursday , March 16, 2017 - 5:00 AM

MARK SHENEFELT, Standard-Examiner Staff

March 12-18 is Sunshine Week, recognized by journalists and nonprofits as a time to focus on and highlight the importance of government transparency. This year, we’re providing how-to guides to explain which records Utahns ought to have access to, according to state laws. These records have a number of critical public-facing purposes, including protecting consumers and preserving civil liberties.

Have questions or want us to investigate a government transparency issue? Email or mail your proposal and supporting documents to 332 Standard Way, Ogden, UT 84044.

What is the record?

Nursing home inspection reports

What are some ways it’s useful?

Local nursing homes can be compared based on health inspections, staffing adequacy and quality measures. If a home has a history of persistently poor quality of care, it is flagged as a Special Focus Facility. Troubled homes are inspected more frequently, may suffer escalating penalties and may be terminated from Medicare and Medicaid.

Where can you get it?

The federal government’s Medicare website posts nursing home inspection reports in a searchable database. You can search by a center’s name or type a zip code to bring up reports on nursing homes in the area:

What information is in the report?

Reports include detailed narratives filed by inspectors after announced, unannounced, complaint-driven or follow-up inspections. Reports use a five-star rating system (from “much below average” to “much above average”). If a home has been penalized in the past three years, a total number of violations is listed.

What information is not in the report?

Details of enforcement actions, such as sanctions and monetary fines imposed. However, such data is available in bulk download on Medicare’s data website.

Example: 8 local nursing homes fined after state inspectors find deficiencies

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