Accuracy of infection reporting in US nursing home ratings

Health Serv Res. 2023 Oct;58(5):1109-1118. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.14195. Epub 2023 Jun 22.


Objective: To assess the accuracy of nursing home-reported data on urinary tract infections (UTIs), which are publicly reported on Nursing Home Care Compare, and pneumonia, which are not publicly reported.

Data sources and study setting: We used secondary data for 100% of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries in the United States between 2011 and 2017.

Study design: We identified Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries who were nursing home residents between 2011 and 2017 and admitted to a hospital with a primary diagnosis of UTI or pneumonia. After linking these hospital claims to resident-level nursing home-reported assessment data in the Minimum Data Set, we calculated the percentages of infections that were appropriately reported and assessed variation by resident- and nursing home-level characteristics. We developed a claims-based nursing home-level measure of hospitalized infections and estimated correlations between this and publicly reported ratings.

Data extraction methods: Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries who were nursing home residents and hospitalized for UTI or pneumonia during the study period were included.

Principal findings: Reporting rates were low for both infections (UTI: short-stay residents 29.1% and long-stay residents 19.2%; pneumonia: short-stay residents 66.0% and long-stay residents 70.6%). UTI reporting rates increased when counting additional assessments, but it is unclear whether these reports are for the same versus a newly developed UTI. Black residents had slightly lower reporting rates, as did nursing homes with more Black residents. Correlations between our claims-based measure and publicly reported ratings were poor.

Conclusions: UTI and pneumonia were substantially underreported in data used for national public reporting. Alternative approaches are needed to improve surveillance of nursing home quality.

Keywords: patient safety; pneumonia; public reporting; quality of care; urinary tract infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Homes for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Medicare
  • Nursing Homes
  • Pneumonia*
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • United States
  • Urinary Tract Infections* / epidemiology