Is That Nursing Home Safe? Here's How To Find Out
By Sean Price


That nursing home you just visited looks nice and clean. But how do you know it's not secretly a hotbed for infection and disease?

A new tool from Kaiser Health News can help you, your patients, and their families know for sure.

The interactive map shows nursing homes across the country that take Medicare or Medicaid. The tool tracks infection-related shortcomings and staffing levels found in those homes. Those deficiencies are cited in federal inspection reports (which are linked from the tool).

Each of the deficiencies increase the risk of sepsis, and they're related to a variety of factors, such as the presence of bedsores in patients, problems with catheters and feeding tubes, and shortcomings in the home's required infection prevention and control program. 

The map is especially important for Texas, which a January 2017 report by AARP Texas claims has a poor record of protecting the roughly 93,000 residents who live in the state's 1,200 or so nursing homes. 

"Texas nursing home quality is shamefully poor and, according to several studies, worse than what exists in most other states," the AARP Texas report says. "An inadequate state regulatory structure with insufficient powers for sanctioning violators of licensing requirements is allowing nursing home operators to escape accountability when they hurt residents or jeopardize their health."

The Kaiser Health News map puts each nursing home into categories based on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The four categories are immediate jeopardy, actual harm, potential for harm, and none. The map makes it easy to find a specific nursing home or hunt for several nursing homes within a particular category.

Health care-related infections are responsible for nearly half of all transfers from nursing facilities to hospitals, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). These infections also lead to 150,000 to 200,000 hospital admissions each year. For nursing home residents with a primary diagnosis of infection, the mortality rate can be as high as 40 percent, HHSC says. The leading cause of death is pneumonia.

The Texas Medical Association has long been concerned about reducing infections in health care facilities. In 2017, TMA backed House Bill 3711, which would have strengthened infection control programs in long-term care facilities. Lawmakers did not approve the bill. 

Last Updated On

September 27, 2018

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Sean Price


(512) 370-1392

Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. He grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He's worked as an award-winning writer and editor for a variety of national magazine, book, and website publishers in New York and Washington. He's also helped produce Texas-based marketing campaigns designed to promote public health. Sean lives in Austin and enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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