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Nursing home quality rating system gets upgrade

The system the government uses to rate the quality of nursing homes has been upgraded.

The Five Star Quality Rating System used by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services since 2008 now has additional and improved information that is reflected in a nursing home's overall ranking.

The new ratings include a more comprehensive review of staffing levels and the facility's use of antipsychotics, because Medicare says these drugs "are often used for diagnoses that do not warrant them."

Medicare notes that because the standards are higher with the new system, many homes will see a decline in their star rating. Under the old system, 80 percent of the facilities received a 4- or 5-star ranking. Under the new gauge, only 49 percent of the homes got 4 or 5 stars.

The ratings can be found at Medicare's Nursing Home Compare website,

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