In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by ProPublica, the government has released unredacted write-ups of problems found during nursing home inspections around the country. We’re making them available today for anyone who wants to download the complete versions.
For several months now, ProPublica has made redacted versions of this same information available in an easily searchable format in our Nursing Home Inspect tool. These versions, which reside on the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website, Nursing Home Compare, sometimes blank out patients’ ages, medical conditions, dates and prescribed medications.
The agency has said the redactions are intended to balance patient privacy concerns with the need to inform consumers about the quality of care. ProPublica requested the unredacted reports because they are public records and because the added information can make them more useful.
For example, prescription information in the unredacted write-ups can help identify cases in which patients received medications such as antipsychotics that are dangerous for those with dementia.
Patients and employees are not identified in either the redacted or unredacted reports.
Nursing Home Inspect allows patients and their families to quickly find nursing homes in their states and identify those with serious deficiencies and penalties in the last three years. The entire national collection of reports — listing more than 267,000 deficiencies — is searchable by keyword.
At this point, Nursing Home Inspect continues to link to only the redacted inspection reports. To search through the unredacted versions, you’ll have to download them and use a program like Microsoft Excel or a text editor that enables you to hunt for keywords or phrases.