The Department of Health and Human Services Officer of Inspector General (“OIG”) released a report this month titled, “Nursing Facilities’ Compliance with Federal Regulations for Reporting Allegations of Abuse and Neglect.” The report examines reporting practices for abuse and neglect in nursing facilities across the country. The OIG study found:
• 85% of nursing homes reported to the OIG at least one allegation of abuse or neglect in 2012;
• 76% of nursing homes maintained policies that address Federal regulations for reporting both allegations of abuse or neglect, and investigation results (95% of facilities maintained policies that address Federal regulations for reporting allegations of abuse or neglect only);
• 61% of nursing homes had documentation supporting the facilities’ compliance with Federal regulations under Section 1150B of the Social Security Act requiring (a) annual notification of covered individuals about their obligation to report any reasonable suspicion of a crime, and (b) the posting of a notice regarding employees’ rights to file a complaint; and
• 53% of allegations of abuse or neglect and the subsequent investigation results were reported as Federally required.
In light of these statistics, nursing homes should thoroughly review their abuse and neglect policies and practices. A robust and thoughtful abuse and neglect prevention program both protects nursing home residents and the facility. The following considerations may be helpful in reviewing a facility’s compliance with abuse and neglect requirements.
• Existing policies should be accessible, understandable, and implementable for all staff.
• Policies should be reviewed to ensure they are consistent with Federal regulations, especially regarding regulatory requirements for reporting investigation results.
• Staff (including owners, operators, employees, managers, agents, or contractors of nursing facilities) must be educated about their reporting obligations in the event of an allegation of abuse or neglect or when they reasonably suspect a crime has occurred in the facility under Section 1150B. Staff must also be notified about their right to file a complaint under Section 1150B of the Social Security Act.
• Remember to carefully document staff education about rights and responsibilities under Section 1150B.
• Verify policies regarding abuse and neglect are correctly and consistently implemented.
The full OIG report is available here: https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-13-00010.pdf.