As AARP recently reported, Maryland is the seventh worst U.S. state for on-time investigations of nursing home complaints, as found by the federal government in a 2017 report. In response, Maryland enacted a new law, effective July 1, 2018, requiring the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to initiate an investigation of a nursing home complaint alleging actual harm within 10 business days. For any complaint alleging immediate jeopardy to a resident, MDH must make every effort to investigate within 24 hours and must investigate within 48 hours.
The Maryland Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ) reported that, as of January 2018, 227 nursing homes were licensed to operate in Maryland. Of these, 25 facilities had 50 or fewer total beds, 54 facilities had between 51 and 100 beds, 132 facilities had between 101 and 200 beds, and 16 facilities had 201 beds or more.
According to the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2015, OHCQ failed to investigate 648 of 867 allegations of harm at nursing homes within a required 10-day window, accounting for approximately 75% of all high-priority complaints. While OHCQ did successfully investigate all five immediate jeopardy complaints (the highest level of urgency) within the required two-day time period, Maryland was among the worst performers in the U.S. with respect to high-priority complaints.
The new law, known as the Maryland Nursing Home Resident Protection Act of 2018, requires MDH to initiate an investigation of a nursing home complaint alleging actual harm within 10 business days. For any complaint alleging immediate jeopardy to a resident, MDH must make every effort to investigate within 24 hours and must investigate within 48 hours. MDH must develop a data dashboard that includes specified information, which must be posted on the MDH website. Uncodified language requires OHCQ to annually receive 10 new, full-time merit positions, as specified, each fiscal year beginning in fiscal 2020 and ending in fiscal 2024, for a total of 50 new full-time merit positions. Unless otherwise required by federal law, all surveys must be unannounced.
The Preamble to the Maryland Nursing Home Resident Protection Act of 2018 states:
WHEREAS, A 2017 report of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General shows that the State is 7th worst in the nation for on–time investigations of nursing home complaints; and
WHEREAS, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General report shows that the State did not investigate 74% of high–level nursing home complaints within the federal deadline of 10 days; and
WHEREAS, Almost 19 years ago, the U.S. General Accounting Office found that the State did not investigate 79% of high priority nursing home complaints within the federal deadline of 10 days, including investigations not occurring for months despite an urgency in the nature of the complaints; and
WHEREAS, The Maryland Department of Health reported in 2016 that it takes 47 days to initiate an on–site investigation, which demonstrates a lack of commitment to investigating complaints about nursing homes and other facilities; and
WHEREAS, The lack of commitment to investigating complaints regarding nursing homes and other facilities by the State is evident in the longstanding understaffing of nurse surveyors in the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality; and
WHEREAS, There appears to be no commitment to change the deficient and dangerous conditions in terms of the timeliness of investigating nursing home complaints, which affects the health and well–being of vulnerable Marylanders who reside in nursing homes; and
WHEREAS, These conditions cannot be permitted to continue; now, therefore …
If you or a loved one suffered harm while a resident of a nursing home in Maryland or in another U.S. state due to nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, or the failure to provide appropiate care for a vulnerable adult, you should promptly find a nursing home claim lawyer in Maryland or in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home claim on your behalf or behalf of your loved one, if appropriate.
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