Top healthcare watchdog calls on New York State officials to enforce nursing home safety rules
September 24, 2019 | Finz & Finz, P.C.
State officials have been put on notice by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the federal government’s top healthcare watchdog. The agency has called on New York state officials to strengthen their enforcement of nursing home safety rules. This action was taken after a report released this month by the OIG found that nursing homes examined across the state failed to comply with a wide range of safety rules.
The OIG examined 20 randomly-selected nursing home facilities across the state in the first four months of 2018. The goal was to test whether the facilities were in compliance with the most recent set of emergency preparedness rules that went into effect the year prior. Unfortunately, the inspectors found a wide range of compliance problems, including:
- 18 of the 20 facilities had an emergency-exit related concern
- 11 facilities had issues with carbon monoxide detectors – including two facilities that did not have monitors installed at all
- 13 of the facilities had deficiencies with their emergency plans
The OIG’s report concluded with the statement: “As a result, nursing home residents at the 20 nursing homes were at increased risk of injury or death during a fire or other emergency.”
The agency recommended that NY officials work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to standardize safety procedures across all facilities, as well as increase safety inspections of facilities with a history of safety deficiencies.
While officials at the New York State Department of Health noted that the inspections came rather quickly after the new safety rules were implemented, they generally agreed with the OIG’s report and its recommendations and agreed to beef up enforcement.
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