OIG – Yes – They Are Looking!

Angie SzumlinskiCompliance, Studies

Nurse staffing is a key contributor to the quality of care provided in nursing homes. A review conducted by the OIG (Office of the Inspector General) prior to COVID-19 pandemic, focused on staffing data from 2018 and was posted on 8-3-2020. Now, with the 2020 pandemic, it becomes more obvious that adequate staffing for nursing homes is critical as inadequate staffing can make it more difficult for nursing homes to respond to infectious disease outbreaks like COVID-19.

Of 12,862 nursing homes in the study, 7 percent (943) reported 30 or more days in 2018 on which staffing was below at least 1 required staffing level. Additionally, another 7 percent of nursing homes (900) reported between 16 and 29 days with staffing below required levels in 2018. This raises concerns that some nursing homes may not have fully met their residents’ needs in 2018. 

What does this mean to you? It can and probably has impacted your overall star rating and consumer trust. Yes, we are in the midst of the most challenging time in history; no one was prepared for COVID-19 and we continue to struggle. However, it is even more important today to be sure your staffing levels meet the requirements outlined by CMS. Does this mean you use staffing agencies, temporary CNAs, dining assistants, double shifts? Yes, yes and yes. We need to do whatever it takes to be sure staffing is adequate. Bottom line, the study shows that quality of care is directly impacted by staffing so take a look and review your staffing numbers and star rating with your QAPI committee. Ask questions and work on solutions! Stay well, stay safe and stay tuned!