Critical report finds surveys are too soft

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Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Nursing homes received another quality drubbing last month after the Government Accountability Office revealed that state inspectors often understate deficiencies, including those about malnutrition, bedsores and abuse, in their annual facility inspection reports. 

State surveyors missed at least one serious deficiency in 15% of the inspections checked by federal officials, according to the GAO report, which was released on May 15. In nine states, inspectors missed problems in more than 25% of the surveys analyzed from 2002 to 2007.  

The report “points out yet again that we need comprehensive reform of the survey and certification of nursing homes in this country,” Larry Minnix, president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, said in a statement. “If we want to assure quality and safety for nursing home residents, we need to rethink our approach from the bottom up.

“There is no evidence, however, that simply raising penalties will lead to quality improvement,” he added.  

Sens. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) requested the critical GAO report. The senators are pushing for the passage of a bill that would increase penalties for care violations.