New York nursing homes are lagging in emergency preparedness and life safety, the federal government said Friday.

The Office of Inspector General, Health and Human Services, made the charge after deficiencies were found in 20 facilities. Its investigation analyzed whether New York nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs were in compliance with life safety and emergency regulations.   

The agency reviewed 20 nursing homes out of 621 in the state that participate in Medicare or Medicaid for its investigation. It made unannounced site visits between January and April 2018 at each nursing home. 

The OIG found deficiencies in all 20 nursing homes, finding 205 areas of noncompliance with life safety regulations and 219 areas of noncompliance with emergency preparedness. Deficiencies reported included a lack of fire detection and suppression systems, building exits, carbon monoxide detectors, emergency supplies and plans for tracking residents and staff. 

“The identified areas of noncompliance occurred because of several contributing factors: specifically, inadequate management oversight and staff turnover at the nursing homes,” the report stated. 

The OIG recommended the state follow up with those 20 nursing homes and ensure corrective actions have been taken, conduct more frequent surveys of facilities with a history of high-risk deficiencies, instruct all nursing homes to install carbon monoxide detectors and work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to develop life safety training for nursing home staff. 

Life safety and emergency regulations were established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in 2016. They require nursing homes to have expanded sprinkler systems, smoke detector coverage, an emergency preparedness plan and provisions for sheltering and evacuation in case of an emergency.