The federal government today uploaded details of an additional 70,000 problems at nursing homes nationwide, and we’ve included them in our Nursing Home Inspect tool that lets users easily examine trends at the facilities.

Nursing Home Inspect now has information on almost 217,000 deficiencies identified by government inspectors.  Until now, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had only put online narrative details of these deficiencies from a home’s most-recent routine inspection, called a standard survey, as well as 16 months of complaint inspections.

What’s changed is that CMS has now included the details of a home’s three most recent routine inspections. For many homes, that means results from 2009 and 2010 are now available online. Previously, they had only been available by filing at Freedom of Information request.

News organizations around the nation have used Nursing Home Inspect to identify issues at homes in their area.

Nursing Home Inspect allows users to search all inspection reports by keyword — such as injuries, MRSA or ignore— to look for problems that may appear across the country. Results can be sorted by state or severity level. Our tip sheet offers suggestions about how to get the best search results.

Nursing home industry officials have cautioned that although the reports can be of value when choosing a home, they are only a snapshot and don’t highlight good practices in the home. The American Health Care Association, a nursing home industry group, has launched a program that each year recognizes homes it says are working to improve the quality of care.