The Government Accountability Office recommends that the CMS take several steps to strengthen oversight of nursing home complaint investigations, including improving the reliability of its complaints data base and clarifying guidance on state performance standards, according to a report (PDF) from the GAO.
GAO urges closer oversight of nursing home investigations
The GAO examined the CMS' state agency complaints database following concerns raised in Congress about the timeliness and adequacy of nursing home complaint investigations and CMS' oversight of them.
The GAO found that “many state survey agencies had difficulty meeting some of CMS' nursing home complaint standards,” according to a GAO summary. “In particular, 19 state survey agencies had difficulty investigating ‘actual harm-high' complaints and incidents within the required time frame,” the GAO wrote, noting that most states were able to meet other CMS standards. The CMS data showed that state survey agencies received about 53,000 nursing home complaints in 2009, and about 45% were classified as actual harm-high, which require investigation within 10 working days of prioritization.
HHS generally agreed with the GAO's recommendations, according to the report.
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