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CMS Starts Using ‘Abuse’ Icon in Nursing Home Compare Website to Empower Patients & Caregivers

Maria Zegarra


Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would introduce a new feature to its Nursing Home Compare website – a red consumer alert icon that will show up on the information pages for nursing homes and healthcare facilities with a documented history of patient abuse and neglect.

Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CMS worked with the Trump Administration to implement this enhancement which the agency called a “critical move toward improved transparency.”

“The Trump Administration and CMS are committed to ensuring that nursing home residents are safe from abuse and neglect. Through the “transparency” pillar of our five-part strategy to ensure safety and quality in nursing homes, we are giving residents and families the ability to make informed choices. With today’s action, the Trump Administration is putting critical information at consumers’ fingertips, empowering them and incentivizing nursing homes to compete on cost and quality.” – Seema Verma, CMS Administrator 1

The Nursing Home Abuse Icon is Launched

The nursing home abuse icon – a small red circle with an open hand symbolizing “stop” ­– was launched on October 23, 2019.2

While many nursing home patients, their families, patient advocacy groups, and caregivers applaud this new feature, some nursing home operators are apprehensive of the potential for the icon to cause unwarranted fear among consumers.

Fortunately, less than 5% of nursing homes have received this abuse icon on the Nursing Home Compare website.3 To receive the icon, a facility must meet the following criteria: 4

  1. Have been cited for one or more of the following deficiencies related to abuse, neglect, or exploitation:
  • F600 (Protect each resident from all types of abuse, such as physical, mental, sexual abuse, physical punishment, and neglect by anybody);
  • F602 (Protect each resident from the wrongful use of the resident’s belongings or money);
  • F603 (Protect each resident from separation from other residents, his/her room, or confinement to his/her room);
  • F223 (Protect each resident from all abuse, physical punishment, and involuntary separation from others); and
  • F224 (Protect each resident from mistreatment, neglect, and misappropriation of personal property).


  1. The cited deficiency a) has harmed a resident within the past year (a scope and severity level of G or higher); and/or b) potentially could have harmed a resident within each of the past two years (a scope and severity level of D, E or F).

After a nursing home has corrected its deficiencies in care and received no abuse citations for a full year, the icon will be removed from the facility’s information page in the CMS database. Until then, the nursing home abuse icon will serve as a tool for patients and healthcare professionals looking for nursing homes.


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  1. ­– Trump Administration Empowers Nursing Home Patients, Residents, Families, and Caregivers by Enhancing Transparency about Abuse and Neglect
  2. ­– New feature helps you compare nursing home safety
  3. Alex Spanko, Skilled Nursing News – Less Than 5% of Nursing Homes Receive Abuse Icon — But Financial Impacts Could Be Coming
  4. The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care – CMS Will Alert Consumers About Nursing Home Abuse

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