The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) watchdog arm will investigate the nursing home industry’s response to COVID-19 to its list of top 2020 priorities, with a particular focus on infection control. Sounds like they will whitewash the industry which spends millions in campaign contributions every election year. The HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced two coronavirus-related investigations as part of its ongoing 2020 Work Plan — one that focuses on auditing nursing homes’ infection control programs, and another that will analyze the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) oversight efforts during the ongoing pandemic.
Through February 2020, prior to the start of the COVID-19 crisis, CMS’s State Survey Agencies (SSAs) had issued infection-control citations at 6,600 nursing homes, or about 43% of the total facilities in the country, the OIG observed; those deficiencies included both infection-control problems as well as a lack of plans to fix known issues.
“To reduce the likelihood of contracting and spreading COVID-19 at these nursing homes, effective internal controls must be in place,” OIG noted. “Our objective is to determine whether selected nursing homes have programs for infection prevention and control and emergency preparedness in accordance with federal requirements.”
Persistent noncompliance of three main areas of infection protocols include: hand-washing, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and cohorting. But the industry still demands immunity to avoid responsibility for their predictable failures.