New “Abuse Icon” will be Used on Nursing Home Compare Tool
On October 23, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began the use of a new “abuse icon” on Nursing Home Compare. Nursing Home Compare is a directory that has detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country. Consumers using Nursing Home Compare will now be alerted when a nursing home has been cited for an abuse violation in the past year or over each of the past two years, depending on the level of harm. CMS is advising consumers who come across this new icon to “ask the administrator or other staff about what they’re doing to keep residents safe from abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or exploitation.”
While CMS should be applauded for helping consumers identify nursing homes with a history of abuse, it is important to remind consumers that the absence of an abuse icon on Nursing Home Compare does not necessarily indicate the absence of abuse. Federal reports over the last few decades have documented that state survey agencies (health inspectors) have missed problems and failed to cite violations. Moreover, violations indicating the existence of abuse or potential abuse may be cited under other federal tags, resulting in their exclusion from this initiative.