let me add something to what capecodmermaid has said. mds stands for minimum data set. it is a long
form, which is now computerized (although a paper copy of them is still in existence), that is a "comprehensive functional assessment of long-term care patients" (pg. 79 of health information: management of a strategic resource
, 2nd edition by m. abdelhak). it's government red tape if you want to think of it that way. it's the price we pay for having medicare and medicaid paying for medical expenses. it's their way of collecting data in order to analyze and contain medical expenditures in the medicare and medicaid programs. [remember the steps of any scientific process are to collect data, analyze it, develop a plan, implement the plan and then evaluate it--nursing process is exactly the same] it is, basically, data that cms (center for medicare and medicaid services--better known as medicare) has deemed is to be collected from all facilities who receive medicare or medicaid reimbursement for health care they provide to nursing home clients. once a facility accepts medicare payments, then they, by law, must submit mds data on all
their residents whether those residents are private paying clients, medicaid clients or medicare clients.
a nurse who takes a position as an mds coordinator in a ltc facility has an extremely responsible job. an initial mds must be filed on each nursing home resident within 15 days of their admission to the facility. subsequent mdss must be filed on each resident every 90 days. remember i said these are "comprehensive" assessments, so they are quite involved. while the mds nurse ends up filling out the major parts of the form, other ancillary service providers (i.e. dieticians, activities coordinators, etc.) also have to provide their input as well. so, all this data collection must be coordinated. in many places the mds coordinator is also responsible for maintaining the permanent nursing care plan for each patient as well since the information required for the mds is the same information that needs to be known to develop the care plan.
most employees of ltc facilities don't get to see these mds reports. if you are ever in a ltc facility for a clinical rotation please ask to see one of these mds reports on your patient. i guarantee that you will be extremely amazed at the information in them. they assess the adls of each resident extremely accurately. if you can't develop a care plan for your patient after looking at their mds, then you're not understanding the nursing process and what a care plan is.
and, just so you or anyone else doesn't get the idea that nursing homes are being picked on, these data sets of information required to be sent to medicare are also required to be done in acute care hospitals by uhdds (uniform hospital discharge data set), in ambulatory care settings by uacds (uniform ambulatory core data set), and home health by oasis (outcome and assessment information set). you may also have heard of drgs (diagnosis related groups) which is a prospective payment system for hospital inpatients who are on medicare. information from drgs is reported on the uhdds. the feds compile all this information and you can get results of the statistical information from all this data at this site as it is also combined with icd-9-cm diagnosis codes also reported on these data sets: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/default.htm
one of the ways the fed picked up that medication errors were a huge problem was through the collection of information on these various types of data sets. that has been one of the good things to come out of all this data reporting. you can also think of it this way: as long as the feds are paying for healthcare, they are wanting to know where every single dollar is going and how it is being spent. it is through reports like the mds that they are able to do that.
hope i didn't bore you or lose you half-way through that explanation. this stuff turns me on!