In New Mexico and throughout the United States, much has changed since the ongoing health situation came to the forefront in early 2020. This has led to challenges and problems that would normally have been addressed through customary oversight. Nursing homes have been directly impacted not just by residents encountering health issues, being unable to regularly see family members and isolation, but also by fundamental changes to surveys designed to track and address problems. This should be factored in when there is a belief that a loved one has been victimized by nursing home neglect or abuse.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that more than 10,900 nursing homes across the U.S. did not have normal surveys in the 16 months preceding May 31, 2021. That accounted for 71% of nursing homes. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) says the surveys are used to determine where nursing homes are having issues and how they can improve upon them. The last report from December 2020 said that 8% of facilities were backlogged and had not had a survey in the 16 months preceding June 2020. The backlogs have spiked exponentially in less than a year.
The worst state for surveys was Connecticut with eight out of 209 facilities having had theirs completed. Eighty-eight percent of California’s nursing homes were without a survey in that time. Nationally, the backlog went from 22% in some states all the way up to 96%. This is in stark contrast to April 2020 when there was a 132% increase in surveys and a specific focus on infection control. Federal guidelines require that states have these surveys at least once every 15 months. Surveys include personal inspections. These can be vital not just to meet the standards, but to ensure the safety and proper care of residents.
When placing a loved one in a nursing home, family members are doing so under the assumption that there will be proper care and treatment. They are certainly not expecting negligence, nursing home neglect and abuse. Unfortunately, it happens even during the best of circumstances. When the agencies obligated to keep track of nursing homes, inspect them and address problems are limited in their ability to do so, it leaves the door open for staff members to shirk their responsibilities and worse. If there is evidence that a loved one has been abused or suffered any form of mistreatment, it is important to have advice on what steps to take to hold the facility and its staff accountable.