Jason Hautala RN
OK … I didn’t know what an MDS nurse was, but thanks to Google, now I do. This one forum post entry seemed interesting to me, and makes me think you might not want this position as a new nurse … but if you do want it, don’t let me stop you, because I really don’t know anything other than what I have read in the last five minutes 🙂
mds stands for “minimum data set” and it is the collection of core health data elements mandated by law by the centers for medicare and medicaid services (cms) of the united states government. if an mds nurse lies or doesn’t do these mds reports as truthfully as they should be done, either through ignorance or willfully, he/she can end up being fined or doing federal jail time. this is a serious job. there is some training involved in performing this work because the reimbursement (money) that ltc facilities receive from medicare is very dependent on the mds reports that the mds nurse files being as accurate as possible. the mds nurse has to know the medicare laws and continually be updated on changes in the medicare law applying to ltc. you have to have knowledge of computers because the mds reports can only be submitted by computer. the mds nurse must know about the specific care that must be provided for each resident since this information is required on the mds report. that can be accomplished in a number of ways. the mds nurse can look at charting, they can query the nursing staff or they can go and actually make their own assessment of the patients. in many of the facilities i worked the mds nurse was also responsible for maintaining the written care plan as well. every patient must have a written care plan that becomes a permanent part of their medical record. and, for ltc, these care plans are quite extensive. after doing the mds report for a patient you should be able to write the care plan because you will know the patient’s problems and needs extremely well and that is what a care plan is all about. an mds has to be submitted to cms within 15 days of a patient’s admission and then every 90 days thereafter. believe me, if administration determines that you could have gotten the facility more money by doing a better job on the mds reports, you will be looking for new opportunities with other employers. this is not a cake job. most facilities are dead serious about the people they put in these positions, expect high performance, and often send them for special training to learn the nuances to this job. the mds nurses are often the resource person for the nursing staff when it comes to medicare and what needs to be charted and documented.
the data that cms (medicare) collects from the mds reports is collected and analyzed. some of the statistics are reported on the national center for health statistics website here: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/default.htm. the statistics are also used to compute the amount of money that is eventually going to be paid to the nursing home for their medicare and medicaid patients based upon their case mix. if you’ve heard of drgs, which is the way medicare pays for acute hospital patients, you can sort of think of mds as the way medicare pays for ltc patients. drgs are different from mds, but the way it is all run by medicare is the pretty much the same.
Hope that helped some.