New Office of the Inspector General (OIG) audits have uncovered a number of weaknesses and gaps in emergency preparedness, life safety efforts, and infection control measures in long-term care facilities nationwide. This and other investigations with similar findings have led to expectations of increased federal regulations and attention to emergency preparedness in this setting.
The audits, released last month, involved 40 nursing homes in Pennsylvania and Ohio found more than 500 deficiencies in total. They determined that these issues put residents and staff alike at risk during fires, floods, infectious disease outbreaks, and other emergencies.
In its report on the audit, the OIG cited poor record keeping and high staff turnover as main reasons for the deficiencies. These issues, the report suggested, contributed to inconsistent policies and lack of compliance with regulations.
The audits from these two states aren’t isolated incidents. Just last year, OIG released a report noting that audits of nursing home life safety and emergency preparedness in eight states identified noncompliance with federal requirements. These audits identified 2,233 areas of noncompliance with life safety and emergency preparedness requirements at 150 of 154 nursing homes visited. These deficiencies, OIG officials said, “occurred because of several factors, including inadequate oversight by management, staff turnover, inadequate oversight by state survey agencies, and a lack of any requirement for mandatory participation in the standardized life safety training programs.”
These audits have led OIG to make a series of recommendations to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), including a proposal for regulations requiring nursing homes to install carbon monoxide detectors and work with states to “encourage mandatory participation in standardized training for nursing home staff.”
To prepare for any potential new regulations or oversight, take a fresh look at your emergency preparedness processes. Identify gaps and a champion to help fill them and engage staff in efforts to plan for whatever emergencies may come along.
For ore suggestions on how to shore up your emergency preparedness, download this tipsheet.