Always Be Vigilant: OIG Conducted Unannounced Site Visits at California Nursing Homes

OIG conducted unannounced site visits at select nursing homes in California from September to December 2018 to check for life safety violations and review the nursing homes’ emergency preparedness. OIG found that California did not ensure that selected nursing homes in the State that participated in the Medicare or Medicaid programs complied with CMS requirements for life safety and emergency preparedness. OIG identified deficiencies in areas related to life safety and emergency preparedness at all reviewed nursing homes.

Specifically, OIG found 137 instances of noncompliance with life safety requirements related to building exits, smoke barriers, and smoke partitions; fire detection and suppression systems; hazardous storage areas; smoking policies and fire drills; and electrical equipment testing and maintenance. Additionally, there were 188 instances of noncompliance with emergency preparedness requirements related to written emergency plans; emergency power; plans for evacuation, sheltering in place, and tracking residents and staff during and after an emergency; emergency communications plans; and emergency plan training and testing.

Unsurprisingly, OIG is calling for increased oversight of nursing homes in California at the state level, including more frequent site visits and stricter guidelines for surveyors. Small audits like this one are a preview of national actions to come, so it’s important to pay attention even if you do not operate a facility in California.

For more information, read the full report from OIG.