Guest Columns

A survey and regulatory review of 2013

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Steven Littlehale
Steven Littlehale

I always get a kick out of doing my year in review. Did I meet my personal and professional goals? Did our clients improve their outcomes? Were new relationships established and old ones strengthened?

This is a good time of year to do a similar review. But ask yourself if your review include a look at your survey and regulatory performance in 2013? Allow me to give you a hand.

Over the past two years, the average total number of deficiencies, standard survey and complaint combined, has improved slightly to 6.86. Just counting standard survey, the number is 5.77.  However negative trends in G-level deficiencies, immediate jeopardy and substandard quality of care deficiencies were seen particularly in some CMS Regions and states. Let's take a closer look. 

Throughout the country, the average number of facilities with a G level citation (17%) has slightly improved. Hats off to Region 4 for improving to well below the national average (10%). Region 5, thanks for lowering your rate to 21%; more work to do. While the nation improved, Region 9 has seen a 3% rise in facilities cited at the G level over the last two years. The sources of these deficiencies, we find, are generating from complaint surveys in concentrated survey districts in California. (I'll address surveyor district variations in my blog next month; perhaps the title will be called “Seriously?”)

So how did you do? How did you compare to the nation? How about your CMS region or state? If you fared better on standard surveys, which are anticipated and planned for, but had more complaint deficiencies, the response is clear.

Identify the catalysts for the complaints and your overall complaint management process. This disparity in performance suggests that the good work you do in survey readiness should be extended to every day. It's a philosophical shift and a perfect QAPI opportunity!

Steven Littlehale is a gerontological clinical nurse specialist, and EVP and chief clinical officer at PointRight Inc. 

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Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.

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