For Hawaii reporter, scarce nursing home inspections become the story

The Honolulu Star Advertiser‘s Rob Perez reports that, thanks to cutbacks, Hawaii has failed to meet federal standards for “evaluating the severity” of nursing home complaints in four of the past five years. His two-part investigation (Part 1 | Part 2) is built in part on the back (or, in this case, “lack”) of documents that should be familiar to many AHCJ members: Nursing home inspection reports. For more on how to use these, and related documents, check out AHCJ’s slim guide, Covering the Health of Local Nursing Homes.Covering the Health of Local Nursing Homes

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that oversees most nursing homes nationally, imposed only one sanction against a Hawaii facility last year, the lowest number among the 50 states, according to CMS data. North Dakota also had just one sanction.

Over the past six years, the agency took enforcement actions against 4 percent of Hawaii institutions that were cited for a certain level of deficiencies, compared with a national average of 30 percent, the data show. Only North Dakota, at 3.5 percent, had a lower percentage. In 2006 and 2007, no Hawaii nursing homes were penalized.

In the first installment, “Hobbled oversight,” Perez shows how far behind the state has fallen when it comes to inspections. The story has already attracted nearly 150 comments. In the second piece, “Abuse goes unpunished at Hawaii’s care homes,” Perez takes a look at the real-world impact of these administrative failures.

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