Miami, FL-The government shutdown, now in its 13th day, has far reaching effects. Federal employees have been furloughed and many services have been halted. While some aspects of the shutdown are annoyances to Americans, the elderly and sick are paying a higher price as nursing home and hospital inspections have been shuddered.
When states receive complaints about a hospital or long-term care facility, they conduct investigations of the facility on behalf of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But with the government shutdown, funding for these state agencies remains frozen and they don’t have the personnel or money to conduct their inspections.
At the onset of the shutdown, state agencies were instructed to limit their inspections to cases where there is the immediate threat of immediate danger to patients or where a facilities funding is at risk. Other inspections and investigations are to be put on hold until the government reopens.
The CMS directive states, “Complaints that are triaged as credible allegations of immediate jeopardy (IJ) or harm to an individual should continue to be assessed and investigated.”
This is understandable, but it could put some patients in healthcare facilities at risk in the future since standard inspections, which would reveal systematic issues or violations, have been halted completely. Routine federal inspections to examine issues including safety, clinical care and medication being administered at nursing homes aren’t being conducted, Insurance Journal reported.
States are also unable to investigate complaints that don’t pose an immediate threat to a patient’s safety.
An investigation into what might be considered a minor issue can often reveal a large picture of safety violations and abuse in a long term care facility.
State agencies not only investigate health and safety violations, but they also investigate allegations of neglect and abuse in nursing homes. These agencies are often plagued with backlog which will only grow each day that federal government is closed.
Too large a backlog and some investigations or abuse or neglect could be delayed for months or even years. Even worse, some cases are closed without investigation if they are open too long. Investigations of long-term care facilities can be somewhat adequate when the government is fully open and funded.
This puts many nursing home residents in danger of facing future neglect and abuse. While the families and friends of nursing home residents play a large role in preventing abuse and neglect in nursing homes, state inspectors are instrumental is making certain these facilities are free from hazards.
You don’t need to rely on state inspectors alone if you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected in a long term care facility. You can take action for yourself and contact a nursing home abuse attorney, who can give you tips on how to proceed if your loved one is in peril. They may recommend you install a hidden camera if it is legal in your state or recommend other steps you can take to detect and stop the abuse or neglect of your loved one.