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California’s New Nursing Home Search Website Dangerously Misleading

On January 12, 2018, the California Department of Public Health (DPH) launched a new website – Cal Health Find – that provides highly deceptive information on the performance records of California nursing homes. CANHR strongly advises consumers not to rely on it for selecting a nursing home until DPH makes major changes and corrections to the site.

Presently, none of its information on nursing home inspection histories is reliable and much of it is dangerously misleading. Key problems with Cal Health Find include:

  • Inspection reports, complaint records and citations prior to 2016 have been deleted;
  • The number of complaints filed against individual nursing homes is extremely inaccurate (some nursing homes have dozens more complaints than is reported);
  • The number of reported deficiencies (violations) for individual nursing homes is often lower than the actual number of deficiencies;
  • The reported statewide average number of nursing home complaints and deficiencies is far below actual levels;
  • A complete lack of useful information on nursing home chains.

Consequently, Cal Health Find systematically makes nursing homes appear to have much better compliance histories than they actually do.

The Department of Public Health reports it is working on some corrections but it is far from certain that changes will be meaningful or that updated information on individual nursing homes will be accurate. A high-ranking DPH official described the Cal Health Find website as the “best in the nation” at a public event after having been advised by CANHR of its systemic flaws.

Compounding the problem, the Department of Public Health has not posted a warning to alert users of the serious errors on Cal Health Find and has stated that it has no plans to do so.

Until Cal Health Find’s problems are corrected, consumers are best advised to use DPH’s Health Facilities Consumer Information System (HFCIS) for information on California nursing home inspection reports and compliance histories. Cal Health Find is intended to replace HFCIS but both sites are operating at the moment.