Skilled Nursing Facility and Nursing Home Annual Work Plan
The OIG’s 2017 Annual Work Plan identified a few new areas of focus relating to nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. Nursing home compliance officers should consider these newly identified issues when developing their annual compliance work plan.
Investigation of Serious Nursing Home Conditions
The Work Plan references a 2006 OIG report which found that state agencies failed to investigate in a timely manner some of the most serious complaints regarding nursing home conditions. The report referenced nursing home complaints involving immediate jeopardy and/or actual harm to residents. Complaints that rise to this level of severity are to be investigated by applicable state agencies within a 2 and 10 day timeframe. The Work Plan states that OIG will determine the extent to which State agencies investigate serious nuring home complaints within the required timeframes. Nursing homes can expect this to put more pressure on states that are responsible for these investigations to meet these timeframes on a more regular basis.
Unreported Incidents of Potential Abuse and Neglect
This newly identified topic relates to skilled nursing facilities. The OIG states that is plans to “assess” the incidence of abuse and neglect that occurs in skilled nursing facilities. It then plans to make a determination whether these incidents were properly reported and investigated as required under applicable Federal and state law. It appears that the OIG will be taking a sampled representation of cases to investigate. This conclusion can be garnered from reference in the Work Plan to “sampled” incident reports. The OIG plans to interview state officials to assure that incident reports that are examined under its sampling system were reported as required under law. The OIG plans to go even further and determine whether each reportable incident was investigated and subsequently prosecuted by the state.
This area could create some immediate risk exposure to facilities who are sampled as part of the OIG’s investigation. Facilities who are found to have failed to appropriately report potential abuse and neglect incidents could be subject to sanctions.
Review of SNF Use of Minimum Data Set Tool
the OIG states that it will review documentation of selected Skilled Nursing Facilities to determine whether Minimum Data Set Tool have been properly used to determine the severity of the patient’s condition. SNF reimbursment is tied to the severity of the patient’s condition through application of this tool. Periodic assessments must be performed on each patient by applicable skilled nursing facility. Improper use of the tool results in higher reimbursment than may be justified by the patient’s condition.
This issue was called out by previous OIG studies that indicated higher levels of reimbursement were being paid due to improper use of the Minimum Data Set Tool. Again, this is an area of specific concern for facilities who are lucky enough to be selected for audit by the OIG. If the facility is found to have improperly assessed patient severity, overpayment and potential penalties may be imposed. A finding on a small sample could also lead to expansion past the initially reviewed cases.