Detailed records of problems at Rhode Island nursing homes are publicly available online, though it’s not necessarily obvious where to look.
Here’s a quick guide.
How to view reports of inspections and complaint investigations
First, search for the facility in the Department of Health’s database of nursing facility licenses. You can also scroll through the alphabetized list until you’ve found the facility you want.
Next, click on the facility’s name. That will take you to a page that contains additional information about that facility. Below the header titled “Provider Details,” you should see one link for “Inspection Reports,” and another for “Complaint Investigation Reports.”
Each of these links will take you to a Google Drive folder that contains reports going back several years (typically to 2020) including records of any follow-ups.
What you won’t find are the complaints themselves — only the reports from the investigations that they triggered. Complaints are kept confidential in order to ensure that people feel comfortable reporting information, according to RIDOH.
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How to view federal fines and quality ratings
You can find additional information by searching for the nursing home in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ database.
Among other things, you’ll learn how CMS rated the nursing home on staffing levels, quality metrics, and performance on annual health and safety inspections. Ratings are on a five-star scale.
Further down the page, you’ll also find a heading titled “Penalties.” Click on the box that says “View Penalties Details,” and you’ll get a new window that contains information about any federal fines that the facility has faced for serious violations in the last three years.
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A note: RIDOH conducts inspections under its authority as the state licensing body for nursing homes, and also does federal surveys on behalf of CMS. You’ll find reports from both state and federal surveys in the RIDOH database mentioned above.
CMS also publishes inspection reports, but the RIDOH database tends to contain more information. For instance, if you look up the Pawtucket Falls Healthcare Center in CMS’ database, you won’t find any inspection reports from this calendar year. But if you look up the nursing home in the RIDOH database, you’ll see that inspectors ave conducted multiple surveys this year, and found a number of deficiencies.