CMS takes steps to improve nursing home safety, transparency

The Biden-Harris administration and CMS are enacting new rules aimed at reducing the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications and increasing transparency about nursing home citations to families.

Beginning in January, CMS will conduct targeted, off-site audits to determine whether nursing homes are accurately assessing and coding individuals with schizophrenia diagnosis, according to a Jan. 18 CMS release. The use of antipsychotic medications among nursing home residents is an indicator of quality used by the five-star rating system on the Care Compare site; however, schizophrenia patients are excluded. If the audit identifies a pattern of inaccurately coding residents as having schizophrenia, the nursing home's five-star quality measure rating will be negatively impacted.

"No nursing home resident should be improperly diagnosed with schizophrenia or given an inappropriate antipsychotic. The steps we are taking today will help prevent these errors and give families peace of mind," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in the release.

CMS will also begin publicly displaying survey citations that facilities are disputing starting Jan. 25. Currently, when a facility disputes a survey deficiency, it is not posted to the Care Compare site until the dispute process is complete. This can take 60 days or longer. While disputed citations will be publicly displayed, they will not affect the five-star quality rating until the dispute is complete.

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