Nursing Home Ratings Released by Medicare

Carl Saiontz

By Carl Saiontz
Posted December 22, 2008


Last week, the federal government released a new nursing home rating system which assigns an overall score to every facility inspected by Medicare and assigns one to five stars for staffing, quality and health inspections. While the nursing home industry has raised concerns about the public posting of these ratings, the system is designed help families evaluate facilities and reduce the risk that their loved one will suffer from nursing home neglect or abuse.

>>LINK: USA Today Nursing Home Rating Search Tool

The new rating system for nursing homes is based on thousands of complaint investigations and inspection records from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The quality measures include evaluations of information such as how many patients developed bedsores, how many nursing staff hours were provided each day to patients and how many were placed in nursing home restraints.

Under the rating system, nursing homes have to provide at least four hours a day per patient of care by a registered nurse and other nursing staff to achieve a five-star rating for staffing. A home can also have higher scores in individual categories, but a low score on their overall ranking if the quality of care provided is poor.

This trend toward public disclosure of CMS inspection results started last year, when a list of the 54 worst nursing homes was released in November 2007. This was one of the first times that the names of underperforming nursing homes were publicly released, under a system designed to put pressure on the facilities to shape up.

The 54 worst nursing homes on that list were selected from over 125 “special focus facilities” which were subject to more frequent scrutiny and inspections due to their history of poor care.

At the time that list was first released, CMS resisted attempts from elected officials and nursing home advocates calling for them to release the full list of nursing homes involved. However, in February 2008 they ultimately agreed to release the names of all underperforming nursing homes with consistent problems.

The new nursing home rating system is meant to provide additional information to help families choose between nursing homes based on the overall quality of care provided. Another unstated objective is likely to apply pressure to nursing homes that provide poor care, so that owners will take steps to improve the quality and performance to achieve increased rankings.


The nursing home attorneys at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. represent families who are pursuing lawsuits for neglect and abuse that result in serious or fatal injuries.

Many nursing homes consistently cut corners and provide insufficient resources for staff to properly care for all of the residents admitted to the facility. This substantially increases the risk of a nursing home injury which could have a major impact on the resident’s quality of life.

Providing a public nursing home rating system, similar to how hotels, restaurants and hospitals are rated, will allow families to make an educated decision about what facility is best for their loved ones and will keep pressure on nursing home managers to maintain adequate quality of care.

If you, a friend or family member have suffered a nursing home injury which was caused by negligence of poor care, request a free consultation and nursing home lawsuit evaluation.

1 Comment • Add Your Comments

  • JP says:

    We have created what I think is going to be an invaluable resource for consumers in need of a facility. The site is It is a place to find nursing homes in your area but more importantly we need to rate the nursing home as well. Tell us what was good, bad and ugly. There is ZERO visibility on the web or in public about what that facility is REALLY like. We want residents, loved ones, employees, and even ex employees to weigh in. We will be taking the same precautions and take in order to hedge against fraudulent posts. We want to be the launching point for a public conversation on these places in order to improve quality! Check it out and let us know what you think!

    Posted on April 30, 2009 at 9:53 pm

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