The United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) on July 27, 2021 issued a report entitled “States’ Backlogs of Standard Surveys of Nursing Homes Grew Substantially During the COVID-19 Pandemic” in which it stated: “States’ backlogs grew substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationally, 71 percent of nursing homes (10,913 of 15,295) had gone at least 16 months [from February 1, 2020, through May 31, 2021] without a standard survey as of May 31, 2021. By State, the backlogs for standard surveys ranged from 22 percent [in New Mexico] to 96 percent [in Connecticut].”
State Survey agencies, on behalf of the CMS, are required conduct standard surveys of Medicare/Medicaid-certified nursing homes at least every 15 months to ensure that they meet Federal requirements. Standard surveys are comprehensive onsite inspections that evaluate the safety and quality of care provided by nursing homes. In March 2020, to protect public health and address other concerns associated with the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19), CMS suspended standard surveys in nursing homes to reduce surveyor time on site. CMS shifted oversight to infection control surveys, which are more limited in scope than the standard surveys. States also continued to conduct surveys for the most serious nursing home complaints while CMS suspended standard surveys. In August 2020, CMS authorized States to resume standard surveys “as soon as they have the resources (e.g., staff and/or Personal Protective Equipment) to do so.”
In OIG’s December 17, 2020 report entitle Onsite Surveys of Nursing Homes during the COVID-19 Pandemic: March 23 – May 30, 2020, the OIG found that States faced backlogs of standard surveys of nursing homes early in the COVID-19 pandemic, with 8 percent of nursing homes having gone at least 16 months without a standard survey as of June 2020.
The OIG report concluded: “Backlogs of standard surveys of nursing homes need CMS’s attention. Our updated analysis underscores the importance and urgency of our previous recommendation to CMS to clarify expectations for States to complete backlogs of standard surveys, including by issuing guidance on prioritization of surveys and required timeframes to complete these backlogs. In its response to this recommendation in our report, issued in December 2020, CMS said it will continue working with States on how to address these backlogs. We encourage CMS to take the steps described above to implement this recommendation and help States provide needed oversight of nursing homes.”
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) while a resident of a nursing home in the United States due to nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, a nursing home fall, or the nursing home failing to properly care for a vulnerable adult, you should promptly find a nursing home claim lawyer in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home case on your behalf or behalf of your loved one, if appropriate.
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