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There are more than 80 nursing homes in San Diego County and its nearby areas, according to records maintained by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal entity that licenses nursing homes and skilled care facilities. This number is certain to rise over the coming years, making nursing home safety a growing concern for elderly Americans and their families.

Nursing home residents, prospective residents, and their loved ones can learn about their local nursing home facilities using the CMS’s Nursing Home Compare tool. The CMS performs regular inspections of all facilities under its purview; it publishes the data it gathers in these inspections online, for free public consumption. Nursing homes and skilled care facilities receive extensive profiles detailing the results of recent CMS inspections. The data included encompasses citations for public health and safety violations; the fruits of investigations of resident complaints; whether the CMS levied any penalties in response to resident complaints; the results of health inspections; resident population data; staffing data; who owns the facility; and the results of fire and safety inspections.

The CMS is only one source of data in the Nursing Home Compare tool. Others include the Payroll-Based Journal System, through which nursing home facilities disclose staffing figures; the Minimum Data Set National Database, through which nursing homes track resident health; and the Medicare Claims Database, which includes billing information relating to charges and readmissions. The CMS compiles data from these sources into each nursing home and skilled care facility’s star ratings, with overall ratings and specific subcategory ratings. Each grade is from one to five stars, with more stars signifying higher quality.

It is important to note that none of the scores are intended to be an endorsement or condemnation by the CMS or Walton Law APC.