Targeted Infection Control (FIC) investigations appear to be on the decline at a time when some members of the skilled nursing industry still remain concerned about the nature of the relationship with investigators throughout the COVID pandemic. 19.
FIC surveys were conducted 756 times in June this year, up from 8,896 times in June 2020 – a 91.5% year-over-year decrease, according to data provided by the Homes Data Analyzer nursing. StarPRO.
The latest data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is part of a larger trend. FIC investigations fell below the number of standard investigations in June 2021 for the first time since last March, when CMS suspended all non-urgent investigation work and refocused its efforts on adhering to monitoring policies. agency infections.
In June, 761 standard surveys and 756 FIC surveys were conducted, compared to a year earlier when there were 594 standard surveys and 8,896 FIC surveys.
There was, however, a peak in the FIC surveys conducted from July to August – 597 versus 1,022 respectively. This could possibly be attributed to an increase in the number of surveyors as a result of the delta variant emergency, according to Spencer Blackman, product manager for StarPRO.
The results of these FIC surveys are also trending downward. Aside from a recent spike in August, like the number of surveys, the number of deficiencies found on each infection control survey has declined.
Jason Lundy, a shareholder in the Chicago office of national law firm Polsinelli, told Skilled Nursing News that because CMS suspended non-urgent investigative work, he saw several examples of facilities cited for a past incident. which has since been resolved.
This opens up the possibility that civil monetary penalties (CMP) “may be longer and more severe”.
âThey’re meant to be corrective to fix things, not punitive just to increase government revenue or to put a penalty or black mark on a facility,â Lundy said. “If something has already been dealt with by the time the expert reviews it, there is not much restorative purpose in the citations or additional penalties.”
Blackman said the general trend “may be the new normal” for these types of surveys in the future.
“We’ve kind of thought for a long time that with COVID and the flu also being a big thing in nursing homes, infection control might just be a part of adult life in the future,” Blackman said. . âIf they have to be done at the same frequency as a standard investigation or on complaints, that could be the new standard. ”
Even though FIC surveys appear to be on the decline, states are not keeping pace with standard surveys. States should conduct about 1,300 surveys each month in order to meet the CMS goal of each household having a standard survey every 12 months, Blackman said.
CMS reported 844 new standard surveys as of September, according to StarPRO data.
Of 15,295 nursing homes nationwide, 10,913, or 71%, went at least 16 months without a standard investigation as of May 31, according to an updated report filed by the US Department’s Office of the Inspector General of Health and Social Services.
“I think earlier in the pandemic they could have said they couldn’t get into homes or were busy focusing on infection control investigations, but now that these have stabilized , I really feel like there’s sort of less of an excuse as to why they can’t go in there and do these standard surveys, âBlackman said.