If skilled nursing facilities are not prepared for the MDS 3.0 changes that will go into effect April 1, 2012, the consequences could be expensive, a top expert warned Wednesday.

In the opening session of the 6th Annual McKnight’s Online Expo this morning, Leah Klusch reiterated the importance of making sure MDS nurses and other key staffers have been briefed on changes to be implemented by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. She also urged top managers to make sure they invest adequate funding to make sure the transition to updated regulations go smoothly.

“You need to updated 2012 RAI Manuals in your building today. The last update to the manual was on March 3 — you need to make sure that your team has this version,” Klusch stressed. Previous versions of the manual had mistakes and have been withdrawn.

She added that CMS made many changes to the MDS 3.0 form, which some SNFs are not up to speed on yet. She advised that facilities would be wise to invest in new manuals rather than spending hours combing through hundreds of pages of updates from CMS.

Regulators have made several changes to how discharge planning is done, as well as to new policies for unplanned discharges. Resident interviews also are becoming more important, Klusch warned. Staff members need to make sure interviews are completed and documented according to procedures outlined in the RAI manual.

“Get your team together and decide how you’re going to handle this,” Klusch said. “Nobody is going to cut you any slack if you say ‘We didn’t know we were going to have to do this.’ CMS is on a track to make sure it’s going to happen the way they have it designed. Don’t be afraid to put some budget on this. It will be well worth it.”

McKnight’s Online Expo sessions continue through Thursday. Registration, attendance and accompany continuing education (CE) credit are all no-cost. Click here for more information.