Websites shining light on nursing home citations

GET THE DETAILSTo compare nursing homes or search for a specific nursing home:On ProPublica: U.S Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:'S NEWUpdates to Nursing Home Compare include:Narratives that detail specific findings from inspections of nursing home facilitiesTwo new measures that report a nursing home's use of antipsychotic medicationsUpdated data for quality measures previously available on the siteInformation on nursing home ownership is available because of the Affordable Care Act.Source: U.S Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Nursing homes in Tennessee were cited for more than 800 deficiencies in recent inspection reports, an average of more than 2.5 per home, according to new federal information.

Georgia and Alabama racked up similar numbers on the Nursing Home Compare website of the U.S Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In the Chattanooga area, several nursing homes were cited for some of the most serious violations, including a patient who fractured his leg in a fall but wasn't given medical treatment for several days, and a patient who sat in a disengaged electric wheelchair in a room without a call light for 12 hours after cursing the staff.

Across the state, inspectors cited Tennessee nursing homes with 41 "K" and "L" deficiencies, the two most serious violations. Tennessee ranked 10th in the nation for those two serious violations, while Georgia and Alabama had far fewer with 19 and six, respectively.

Violations are lettered A through L, with K and L known as "immediate jeopardy" deficiencies - those that require immediate correction because they are likely to injure, harm or kill a patient.

The Nursing Home Compare website has been updated with new quality measures and information about nursing home ownership and homes' use of antipsychotic medications.

ProPublica, the online investigative website, has taken the CMS information and put it in a more usable, searchable format that makes it easy to search for specific violations or nursing homes in a city.

Before the changes, inspection reports were available only through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Vincent Davis, director of the office of health care facilities with the Tennessee Department of Health, said the online information is a great tool for people who are researching nursing homes for family members.

"The changes that have been made are very, very good - the federal government is doing a good job in being transparent," Davis said. "It is a good starting point for discussions."

Davis said he recommends that people take the information on the website and use it to ask questions during a tour of the home. Things such as inspection reports and ratings can be a good way to get preliminary information, he said.

During a news conference announcing the changes, officials said more than 500,000 people visited the Nursing Home Compare website in the first six months of 2012. The agency is looking at including more information on the site.

Davis oversees federal and state nursing home inspections in Tennessee. She said homes generally are inspected annually as well as any time there is a complaint.

For the most serious violations, homes are fined and given 23 days to put operations in place to remove the danger. They must file a response on how they plan to correct the problem, Davis said.

State fines are one-time and can range from $750 to $7,500, but federal fines can be from $1,500 to $10,000 per day until the issue is corrected.


Some of the most severe violations in Tennessee were at Laurelbrook Sanitarium in Dayton, Tenn.

That nursing home had 34 violations during a May inspection, including four "L" violations.

The 61-page report describes numerous incidents of mistreatment and others that violated patients' rights, as well as problems with administration.

In one incident, the housing supervisor held a patient up to a mirror and asked, "When you look in a mirror do you see a monkey?" Several instances were noted when patients were not properly restrained to keep them from falling out of beds or chairs.

The facility failed to thoroughly investigate allegations of abuse for three residents, of 27 residents reviewed, and failed to check the abuse registry for six out of six personnel files reviewed, among other violations.

At the Soddy-Daisy Health Care Center, a July investigation found that staff had not reported a patient's fall or notified the patient's physician. When asked about the incident, the staff member lied about it.

Several days later the patient was taken to the hospital with a fracture above the knee after complaining of severe pain.

Neither nursing home could be reached for comment Friday.