Study: California’s Follow-Up on Nursing Home Issues Inadequate
The California Department of Public Health sometimes does not adequately follow up on nursing home investigations, possibly putting patients at risk, according to a federal report released last week by HHS' Office of the Inspector General, California Watch reports.
The state'sÂ Department of Public Health is responsible for enforcing state and federal regulations for nursing homes.
The report is the second in a series of federal investigations of California's oversight of nursing homes.
The inspector general's report examined how the department handled investigations of 178 deficiencies at three nursing homesÂ with high rates ofÂ patients requiring hospital care for bedsores and severe infections. The nursing homes were not named in the report.
The Office of the Inspector General examined surveys that the facilities are required to complete every 15 months.
According to the report, nursing home inspectors underestimated the severity of the problems 13% of the time, which could affect ratings on Medicare's Nursing Home Compare website.
The report also found thatÂ inÂ 77% of cases thatÂ required nursing homes to follow corrective-action plans, the state accepted plansÂ that did not meet federal standards, In addition, inspectors did not verify that facilities corrected problems in four of nine surveys. In those four cases, inspectors determined that the facilities were in compliance with federal requirements without visiting or asking for evidence of improvements.
Although the stateÂ mandates follow-up inspections for all cases that require a nursing home toÂ implement a corrective-action plan, inspectors only visited the facilities again if they considered the cases serious or if the cases involved a financial penalty against the home, according toÂ the report.
The report concluded that inspectors' actions "could have contributed to the deficiencies that recurred three or more times from 2006 through 2008."
Patricia McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said the findings show that state inspectors are fostering a system that does not hold nursing homes accountable for making significant corrections to problematic procedures.In response to the report, state officials said that they plan to boost staff training on federal guidelines for nursing homes (Jewett, California Watch, 3/7). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.