Nurse takes resident's temperature.

More scrutiny will soon be placed on the federal government’s COVID-19 reporting requirements for providers and how they’re handled. The Office of Inspector General ratcheted up pressure Tuesday when it announced plans to evaluate officials’ handling of the regulation. 

The OIG investigation will assess the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s oversight and support of nursing home reporting. Officials also said they will identify challenges providers have faced while reporting cases to the National Healthcare Safety Network. The report is expected to be issued in 2022. 

This comes as welcome news to the many operators who have complained about technical challenges and the inability to rebut data in the NHSN that they believe is inaccurate.

Federal health officials in April 2020 first announced that nursing homes would be required to report COVID-19 infections directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the National Healthcare Safety Network. In May, the agency updated the requirement to include COVID-related deaths.

News of the OIG’s investigation comes after a September study found that the federal government missed 40% of early COVID deaths and 44% of nursing home cases among nursing home residents.

“Our work will inform the department’s ongoing efforts to support infection surveillance, including the collection of routine infection data and data related to public health emergencies such as COVID-19,” the watchdog agency said.