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Minimum Data Set

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The Minimum Data Set (MDS) is part of the U.S. federally mandated process for clinical assessment of all residents in Medicare or Medicaid certified nursing homes. This process provides a comprehensive assessment of each resident's functional capabilities and helps nursing home staff identify health problems.

Resident Assessment Protocols (RAPs), are part of this process, and provide the foundation upon which a resident's individual care plan is formulated. MDS assessment forms are completed for all residents in certified nursing homes, regardless of source of payment for the individual resident. MDS assessments are required for residents on admission to the nursing facility and then periodically, within specific guidelines and time frames. In most cases, participants in the assessment process are licensed health care professionals, usually Registered Nurses, employed by the nursing home. MDS information is transmitted electronically by nursing homes to the MDS database in their respective states. MDS information from the state databases is captured into the national MDS database at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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