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An elder woman in a wheelchair in a nursing home hallwayAccording to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”), the OIG conducted unannounced site visits at 20 nursing homes in New York between January and April 2018.  The OIG conducted the site visits to check for life safety violations and to review the nursing homes’ emergency preparedness plans.

The OIG published its findings in August of 2019, stating that it “found 205 areas of noncompliance with life safety requirements related to building exits and fire barriers, fire detection and suppression systems, carbon monoxide detectors, hazardous storage, smoking policies and fire drills, and elevator and electrical equipment testing and maintenance.”  The OIG also “found 219 areas of noncompliance with emergency supplies and power; plans for evacuation, sheltering in place, and tracking residents and staff; emergency communications; and emergency plan training.  The OIG reported that deficiencies were found in every nursing home in which it conducted site visits.

Based on its findings, the OIG concluded that nursing home residents at each of the 20 nursing homes faced at increased risk of injury or death during a fire or emergency.  The OIG concluded the noncompliance resulted from inadequate management oversight and staff turnover at the nursing homes.

You can help protect your loved ones from these types of risks.  When you are selecting a nursing home, the Department of Health advises that you should visit the nursing home and look for:

  • Handrails in hallways and other critical places;
  • Wide, clear walking areas;
  • Hazards that might cause accidents;
  • Good lighting;
  • Appropriate inside temperature;
  • Appropriately dressed residents;
  • Clearly marked exits; and
  • Well-lit elevators.

In addition, you should ask whether the local fire department participates in fire drills and find out how often drills are held in the nursing homes.  These steps can help you identify whether a particular nursing home will be a safe place for your loved one.

If you feel a nursing home has failed to provide adequate safety to a loved one, please contact one of our experienced attorneys for a free initial consultation.  We are here to help.

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