State agencies charged with assessing nursing homes' compliance with quality standards continue to miss serious care deficiencies that are sometimes later identified by CMS inspectors, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
State nursing home surveys still lag: GAO
The report, released by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), noted that the disparity between federal surveys, which examine a sampling of nursing homes each year to monitor state oversight, and state reports has decreased somewhat, signaling some improvement in catching problems that could lead to resident harm. Specifically, the percentage of comparative surveys that found at least one serious, high-level deficiency missed by state survey teams dropped from 14.7% in 2007 to 12.3% in 2008.
But the report cautioned that understatements of deficiency by state inspectors are still a rampant problem. “The gap between state inspectors and federal inspectors is shrinking, but not fast enough,” Grassley said in a news release.
The number of comparative surveys that cited at least one missed lower-level care deficiencies has continued to climb, growing from 55% in 2002 to nearly 75% in 2008, the report said.
“This report shows once again that federal inspectors are uncovering problems that state inspectors are not, a trend that GAO has documented in previous studies,” Kohl said in the release. “While state surveyors are doing a commendable job with scarce financial resources, this report shows that Congress and the administration must do more work to bolster the survey system, both in terms of funding and a more standardized survey process.”
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