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Should I use rankings published in US News and World Report when choosing a nursing home?

A: Be wary of US News and World Report nursing home rankings

U.S. News & World Report has recently published its 2009 rankings of the “Best Nursing Homes.” However, the magazine explains that its rankings are primarily based on the five-star ranking system of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Medicare rankings are in turn based on inspections done by state agencies.

In our Daytona Beach nursing home abuse practice we have seen some nursing homes artificially inflate their staffing in anticipation of state inspections. Although state inspections are not announced ahead of time, some nursing homes are able to anticipate a probable time for the inspection.

Since the quality of care available in nursing homes depends a great deal on whether there is sufficient staff, the inspection ratings by a state agency will be artificially higher when a nursing home has increased staff just for the inspection.

Therefore do not rely entirely on the US News and World Report Nursing Home rankings to select a nursing home. Use the rankings as one of many factors to consider.

There is simply no substitute for visiting a nursing home. We recommend that you visit at mealtime when the nursing home staff is busy. All nursing home patients need good care whether the staff is busy or not. Therefore, visiting at mealtime is a good test of whether the staff will have enough time for your family members when they need it.

For more information on choosing a nursing home see other articles in our nursing home malpractice section.

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