Hospitals have long been reluctant to share with patients their assessments of which nursing homes are best because of a Medicare requirement that patients’ choices can’t be restricted.
For years, many hospitals simply have given patients a list of all the skilled nursing facilities near where they live and told them which ones have room for a new patient. Patients have rarely been told which homes have poor quality ratings from Medicare or a history of public health violations, according to researchers and patient advocates.
“Hospitals are not sure enough that it would be seen as appropriate and so they don’t want to take the chance that some surveyor will come around to cite them” for violating Medicare’s rules, said Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety at the American Hospital Association.
As a result, patients can unknowingly end up in a nursing home where they suffer bed sores, infections, insufficient staffing or other types of substandard care.