A new Office of Inspector General (OIG) report points to significant deficiencies that could jeopardize the health and safety of residents, staff, and visitors in Oklahoma nursing homes.
The OIG audit on the state’s nursing homes focused on compliance with federal regulations for life safety, emergency preparedness, and infection control.
It reveals deficiencies across all 20 nursing homes in the sample, with a total of 146 deficiencies. Specifically, 98 deficiencies were related to life safety, 16 to emergency preparedness, and 32 to infection control.
Out of the 296 nursing homes in Oklahoma participating in Medicare or Medicaid, the OIG selected a non-statistical sample of 20 homes based on specific risk factors, including reported deficiencies. Unannounced site visits were conducted from October 2022 through January 2023, focusing on life safety, emergency preparedness, and infection control.
The deficiencies put residents, staff, and visitors at an increased risk during emergencies such as fires or infectious disease outbreaks, auditors wrote.
These issues were attributed to frequent management and staff turnover, contributing to a lack of awareness or failure to address federal requirements. Additionally, the limited resources available to the state hindered its ability to conduct necessary surveys of all nursing homes, as mandated by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
While Oklahoma did not explicitly concur with the recommendations, the state outlined corrective actions planned or already in progress. The state said it aims to conduct follow-up inspections for the 20 nursing homes by September 30, 2024, to ensure deficiencies are rectified. Oklahoma has also established a survey schedule for timely nursing home surveys and outlined various training plans for nursing homes and surveyors, starting in 2024.
“We recommend that Oklahoma follow up with the 20 nursing homes in this audit that demonstrated life safety, emergency preparedness, and infection control deficiencies to ensure that they have taken corrective actions,” auditors wrote. “We also make procedural recommendations for Oklahoma to work with CMS to develop an approach to identifying and conducting more frequent surveys at nursing homes.