The Office of the Inspector General says state agencies aren’t doing enough to make sure that nursing homes are correcting deficiencies.
Out of nine state agencies that the watchdog selected for review, seven did not always verify that nursing homes’ had corrected issues, as required. More specifically, for 326 of 700 sampled deficiencies, states did not obtain evidence that they hard verified corrections, the OIG said in an announcement posted Monday.
“If state agencies certify that nursing homes are in substantial compliance without properly verifying the correction of deficiencies and maintaining sufficient documentation to support the verification of deficiency correction, the health and safety of nursing home residents may be placed at risk,” the office wrote.
In addition, the OIG said, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ guidance to state agencies on such verification “needed to be improved.” Officials laid out several steps that the agency can take to respond, moves with which CMS has concurred.
In a statement, LeadingAge spokeswoman Lisa Sanders said it agrees with the OIG’s recent findings, while also urging federal officials to ensure that state agencies have adequate funding to complete their reviews.
“The unevenness of surveyors’ findings and enforcement actions taken by state surveyors is well documented,” she told McKnight’s. “State survey agencies are frequently short-staffed, and turnover at these agencies is often rampant, which means that those responsible for surveying nursing homes may have neither the training nor the experience to know what they are seeing and whether conditions comply with federal standards and requirements.”
The American Health Care Association was carefully reviewing the OIG’s recommendations on Monday, said Senior Director of Regulatory Services Sara Rudow. She said prompt verification is crucial for nursing homes aiming to quickly correct deficiencies.
“Timely verification by the state survey agency is necessary for nursing centers to validate their corrective actions are appropriate and take the necessary steps to correct actions that resulted in noncompliance,” she told McKnight’s.