The New York Times: Maggots, Rape and Yet Five Stars: How U.S. Ratings of Nursing Homes Mislead the Public

Maggots, Rape and Yet Five Stars: How U.S. Ratings of Nursing Homes Mislead the Public

Twelve years ago, the U.S. government introduced a powerful new tool to help people make a wrenching decision: which nursing home to choose for loved ones at their most vulnerable. Using a simple star rating — one being the worst, five the best — the system promised to distill reams of information and transform an emotional process into one based on objective, government-blessed metrics.


The star system quickly became ubiquitous, a popular way for consumers to educate themselves and for nursing homes to attract new customers. During the coronavirus pandemic, with many locked-down homes unavailable for prospective residents or their families to see firsthand, the ratings seemed indispensable.


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