GAO: State surveyors miss nursing home deficiencies

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State inspectors often fail to cite serious deficiencies, including malnutrition, bedsores and abuse, in their annual inspections of facilities, a Government Accountability Office report found.

They had missed at least one serious deficiency in 15% of the inspections checked by federal officials during fiscal years 2002 through 2007, according to the GAO report, which was released Thursday. In nine states, inspectors missed problems in more than 25% of the surveys analyzed.

"Today's GAO report points out yet again that we need comprehensive reform of the survey and certification of nursing homes in this country," said Larry Minnix, President and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. "There is no evidence, however, that simply raising penalties will lead to quality improvement," he added.

Sens. Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Charles Grassley (R-IA) requested the report. They are pushing for the passage of a bill that would further increase transparency and significantly increase the penalties for care violations.