The internet has numerous review sites with peoples’ opinions that cover almost everything. Even Yelp, home to over 145 million reviews by individuals, has become a big source of nursing home ratings. Finding a nursing home for a loved one by checking a web site known largely for restaurant reviews might not strike you as performing due diligence in your search for a nursing home. Instead, you might turn to the ratings on Nursing Home Compare (NHC), a site run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), believing that it will provide you with superior information compared to other internet ratings sites. Some have characterized the site as being “the gold standard” for such information.
However, a study done by the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology discovered that Yelp reviews generally rated nursing homes lower than the ratings on Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare. The research, published in November 2017, suggested that the Yelp reviews can be more accurate.
The Yelp Story
Yelp is a reviews site founded in 2004 that many use to quickly check reviews for a restaurant or service. The site is known for its personal assessments, and the reviews of all forms of health care are no different, providing peoples’ opinions on costs, staff members, and physical settings. The ratings system ranges from one to five stars.
In the past, the site has been tarred by reports of fake or manipulated reviews, mostly for restaurants. Some past research has indicated that the false ratings could have run as high as 40 percent of reviews at one point. Because of this, Yelp has done a lot of work to solve the problem of fake reviews and continues to work on the issue. The USC researchers, however, think that the general savviness of the average Yelp user reduces the impact of false ratings. Anna Rahman, co-author of the study’s report, noted, “Many Americans are now familiar with how Yelp works and evaluate Yelp reviews with a critical eye. They know not to believe everything they read on the site.”
Why Yelp Might Be Better than Medicare’s Site
But can you trust the ratings on Nursing Home Compare? In the past, NHC has faced charges that the ratings system allowed nursing homes to manipulate the data, achieving a higher but false number of stars. (NHC also uses one to five stars.) For that reason, NHC changed a number of ratings system aspects in early 2009. However, the information used to calculate the ratings is still largely self-reported by the nursing homes themselves. Only one of the three criteria that NHC uses (the results of annual health inspections) comes from independent sources. Quality measures and staffing levels remain self-reported by nursing homes, and the government does not verify the information, taking it at face value. Additionally, the ratings do not include negative information such as complaints, fines, and government investigations, meaning that the ratings stars you see on NHC might well be higher than they should be.
What Conclusions Can We Draw?
The ratings on NHC and Yelp differed more than 75 percent of the time, with the NHC’s ratings higher most of the time. Study co-author Rahman believes that the flaws in the NHC system might be significant: “There is no easy or highly intuitive way to spot fake ratings on NHC. However, we cannot say that Yelp is a better resource than Nursing Home Compare.”
The study’s authors recommended that persons searching for a suitable nursing home consult both NHC and Yelp, while keeping in mind that each source uses a different system to come up with their ratings. The more data you can amass when choosing a nursing home, the better. Of course, reviewing ratings are only a starting point. Due diligence must still be accomplished by visiting the facilities under consideration and asking the management and staff pertinent questions.
Seeking Truth, Securing Justice for Seniors
When someone you love has been hurt, it can feel like nothing will ever be right or fair again. When this happens, the nursing home injury lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm can review your legal options and work with you to determine the most appropriate next step. While a lawsuit cannot restore someone’s health, a South Carolina nursing home injury claim can help recover the large sums spent on a neglectful or abusive nursing home, as well as medical bills created by that abuse or neglect. You may also be able to hold the abusers accountable for the pain and suffering they caused.
Many South Carolina assisted living facilities are part of a larger chain, complete with its own legal department. The nursing home’s lawyers may try to dispute abuse and neglect claims, but we have represented victims of neglect or abuse in retirement homes and we understand how to deal with negligent facilities and the nursing home attorneys who represent them. While a lawsuit cannot heal bedsores or restore someone’s health, a South Carolina nursing home abuse claim can help recover the large sums spent on a neglectful or abusive nursing home, as well as medical bills created by that abuse or neglect. You may also be able to hold the abusers accountable for the pain and suffering they caused.
For a free consultation, call our attorneys today at 1-803-454-1200, or use our online contact form.