HHS considers new best practices for nursing homes

HHS considers new best practices for nursing homes
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The Obama administration is working to improve the care and safety of nursing home residents.

The Department of Health and Human Services is considering a rule that would create best practices for more than 15,000 long-term care facilities or nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs and care for 1.5 million residents.

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The proposed rule would require nursing home staff to be properly trained on how to care for dementia patients and how to prevent elder abuse and would force facilities to consider the health of residents when making decisions on the kinds and levels of staffing a facility needs.

The rule would require facilities to improve how they plan their care, provide more food choices for residents and allow dieticians and therapy providers the authority to write orders in their areas of expertise when a physician delegates the responsibility and when state licensing laws allow it.

Nursing home facilities would also be required to update their infection prevention and control programs. The rule would force facilities to name an infection prevention and control officer and create an antibiotic stewardship program with protocols and a system to monitor antibiotic use.

The proposed rule also aims to strengthen the rights of nursing home residents by placing limits on when and how binding arbitration agreements can be used.

The public has 60 days to comment.