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US Agency Finds the Monitoring and Sanctioning of Deficient Nursing Homes Lacking

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a press release today indicating that it had created a new administration-transition website with a list of 13 “urgent issues” requiring the attention of President-Elect Barrack Obama and the 111th Congress. In addition to these urgent issues, the website also details what it considers to be “major challenges” affecting 28 different federal agencies. According to this list, the oversight of patient care in nursing homes is one of the major challenges facing the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS). In particular, the site calls out the CMS’s management relating to the enforcement of federal nursing home requirements stating that its efforts are “hampered by its fragmented and incomplete enforcement data system and a policy that allows some homes with the worst compliance histories to escape immediate sanctions.” To remedy these problems, the GAO recommends that the CMS “address quality-of-life concerns” for nursing home patients, that it improve its monitoring of nursing homes which have records of serious care problems, and that it reinforce its enforcement of sanctions against such facilities.

Click here to view the GAO’s recommendations regarding patient care and safety.