"Who regulates nursing homes?"– Amy, Little Rock, Arkansas
In most states, nursing homes are regulated by a combination of state (Department of Health) and federal authorities (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS]). Each agency has its own regulations that control all aspects of the nursing home including: resident care, staffing, policies and procedures and medical equipment.
Because nursing homes are responsible for complying with state and federal regulations, agents from either agency conduct inspections of the facility to assure compliance with the regulations. These inspections are called ‘surveys’ and are generally done unannounced at least one time per year. Surveys may be conducted more frequently at facilities with a history of prior violations or in response to a complaint regarding resident care.
After each survey a report is completed regarding the facilities compliance with applicable regulations. If the findings do not immediately threat patient safety, nursing home administrators will have an opportunity to review the survey findings and propose a ‘plan of correction’. If however, surveyors find conditions that pose a threat to patient safety, they have the ability to impose a variety of penalties including: fines, appointed facility supervisors, suspension of new resident admissions or license suspension.