Selecting a Nursing Home in New York State

Appendix A - Nursing Home Inspections

The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has developed a national process for nursing home inspections to ensure quality care. In New York State, this is carried out by the Department of Health. The state's survey team most often includes a nurse, dietitian, sanitarian and social worker, but other health professionals such as physicians, physical therapists and pharmacists may also participate. Surveyors spend most of their time evaluating the care and services residents receive. Surveyors observe meals, drug administration and recreational activities and also speak with residents and their families regarding the treatment they receive and their opinions about the nursing home.

The inspection survey includes the following steps:

  • touring the nursing home;
  • meeting with staff and administrators;
  • meeting with members of the resident council and/or other residents;
  • assessing the safety of the building;
  • observing meals to assure that residents' nutritional needs are being met;
  • interviewing nursing home residents, examining residents' medical records and observing clinical procedures; and
  • summarizing the results of the survey and reporting findings to the nursing home administrator.

During an inspection survey any violations of the nursing home requirements are identified by the survey team and communicated verbally and through a formal written report, known as a Statement of Deficiencies (SOD). The nursing home has ten days once the SOD is received to provide the Department of Health with a Plan of Correction (POC) as to how the violations identified will be corrected. Depending on the seriousness of the deficiency the Department of Health may apply additional penalties as a result of the survey findings. Penalties may include fines, denial of payment for new admissions, or Department of Health mandated inservices or mandated correction. In instances where the findings are particularly egregious and the facility fails to correct the violations, termination from the Medicare/Medicaid Program is possible along with closure of the nursing home.

Nursing home surveys are unannounced and revisits to determine whether the facility has corrected the identified deficiencies are unannounced as well. Surveys may occur anywhere from 9 to 15 months from the previous survey with the statewide average for inspections no greater than 12 months.

Every nursing home receives a copy of the Department of Health's most recent survey report and federal law guarantees the report be made available for inspection by the public.

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