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Study recommends ways to evaluate end-of-life care in nursing homes
Date:4/16/2012

While nursing homes are the place where an estimated 30 percent of Americans die, there currently exists no way to compare which institutions do a better job at managing end of life care. A new study appearing this week in the Journal of Palliative Medicine is starting a discussion over the need to create end of life quality measures in order to both inform consumers and provide nursing homes with incentive to improve care.

"Nursing homes are increasingly becoming the place where people go to die," said Helena Temkin-Greener, Ph.D., a professor of Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). "By 2020, the percentage of people who die in these institutions will grow to 40 percent. And yet while we have seen an explosion of health care 'report cards' none of them can tell us which nursing homes are better at providing end of life care."

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) compiles a wide range of information from staffing levels, inspection results, and measures of the quality of care such a pressure sores, infections, and incontinence for more than 16,000 nursing homes across the nation. This data is published on the CMS Nursing Home Compare website. While this information allows consumers to compare the performance of nursing homes for a number of aspects of care, it does not indicate how well or poorly a facility provides end of life care.

"The lack of measures of quality of care provided to dying residents not only denies patients and families the ability to make informed choices, but it also means that nursing homes do not have the information and the incentives to improve quality of end of life care," said Dana B. Mukamel, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Medicine and senior fellow with the Health Policy Research Institute at the University of California, Irvine. "We know that there is a correlation between the publishing of quality measu
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Contact: Mark Michaud
mark_michaud@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-4790
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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