Nursing Homes | HHS-OIG (2023)

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Last Updated: 05-16-2023

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Nursing homes are intended to be places of comfort and healing. According to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data, in July 2022, approximately 1.2 million people resided in more than 15,000 certified nursing homes.* Most nursing homes in the United States are certified to serve as both skilled nursing facilities, which provide a clinically managed recovery period after a person's illness or injury, and long-term care facilities that deliver health care and services a resident needs for mental or physical conditions not rising to the level of skilled nursing care.

Decades of OIG work on nursing homes has uncovered widespread challenges in providing safe, high-quality care. Our audits, evaluations, and investigations have raised concerns regarding staffing levels, background checks for employees, reporting of adverse events experienced by residents, and other issues.

Proper nursing home care requires a partnership involving Federal, State, and local entities, the provider community, residents, and their families. To protect residents, OIG continually assesses nursing home performance and oversight, monitors the impact of program changes, and uses our enforcement tools to address misconduct. Key goals in OIG nursing home oversight are below.

Protect Residents from Fraud, Abuse, and Neglect and Promote Quality of Care

Nursing homes should be environments that are free of harm. However, criminal and civil enforcement actions involving OIG have uncovered misconduct and grossly substandard care in nursing homes. Bad actors perpetrate criminal activity that targets nursing home residents. In other cases, substandard care can result in harm such as costly medical injury, unsafe conditions, and abuse and neglect of residents.

OIG investigates potential violations to hold accountable those who victimize residents of nursing homes. Patient neglect and inadequate care by nursing facilities is a recurring challenge that OIG works with the Department of Justice to address in False Claims Act cases.

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Promote Emergency Preparedness and Response Efforts

Nursing home residents and their families rely on facility administrators to plan and execute appropriate procedures during emergency events such as emerging infectious disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and life safety threats. Noncompliance with preparedness requirements and plans can place residents at increased risk of injury or death during an emergency.

In 2020, OIG quickly pivoted to new work to help protect nursing home residents during the pandemic. These individuals are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, due to their age and underlying medical conditions.

Strengthen Frontline Oversight

State survey agencies are on the front lines for ensuing nursing home quality and safety. States conduct on-site surveys at nursing facilities to evaluate the care they provide and respond to allegations of noncompliance with Federal requirements from residents, their families, staff, and others.

OIG reports have identified shortcomings in State agencies' effectiveness and recommended improvements to strengthen this safety system for nursing home residents.

Support Federal Monitoring of Nursing Homes to Mitigate Risks to Residents

CMS has an essential, ongoing responsibility to oversee nursing homes and shares with State agencies the responsibility for ensuring that nursing homes meet Federal requirements for quality and safety. CMS oversees the State process for certifying nursing homes and provides guidance to States regarding the survey process.


OIG examines risks to residents' well-being and recommends ways for CMS to better monitor and mitigate these risks. This work often includes assessments of how CMS is—or could be—leveraging data more effectively for oversight and to make risks more transparent to consumers.


    • The Office of Evaluation and Inspections conducts national evaluations of HHS programs from a broad, issue-based perspective. The evaluations incorporate practical recommendations and focus on preventing fraud, waste or abuse and encourage efficiency and effectiveness in HHS programs. The most recent nursing home-related evaluations are listed below.

      More Than a Thousand Nursing Homes Reached Infection Rates of 75 Percent or More in the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic; Better Protections Are Needed for Future Emergencies
      Long-Term Trends of Psychotropic Drug Use in Nursing Homes
      CMS Should Take Further Action To Address States With Poor Performance in Conducting Nursing Home Surveys
      Facility-Initiated Discharges in Nursing Homes Require Further Attention
      States' Backlogs of Standard Surveys of Nursing Homes Grew Substantially During the COVID-19 Pandemic
      COVID-19 Had a Devastating Impact on Medicare Beneficiaries in Nursing Homes During 2020
      CMS Could Improve the Data It Uses To Monitor Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes
      CMS Use of Data on Nursing Home Staffing: Progress and Opportunities To Do More
      Onsite Surveys of Nursing Homes During the COVID-19 Pandemic: March 23–May 30, 2020
      States Continued To Fall Short in Meeting Required Timeframes for Investigating Nursing Home Complaints: 2016-2018
      Report | Map
    • The Office of Audit Services conducts independent audits of HHS programs and/or HHS grantees and contractors. These audits examine the performance of HHS programs and/or grantees in carrying out their responsibilities and provide independent assessments of HHS programs and operations. These audits help reduce waste, abuse, and mismanagement and promote economy and efficiency throughout HHS. The most recent nursing home-related audits are listed below.

      CMS Did Not Accurately Report on Care Compare One or More Deficiencies Related to Health, Fire Safety, and Emergency Preparedness for an Estimated Two-Thirds of Nursing Homes
      Certain Life Care Nursing Homes May Not Have Complied With Federal Requirements for Infection Prevention and Control and Emergency Preparedness
      Certain Nursing Homes May Not Have Complied With Federal Requirements for Infection Prevention and Control and Emergency Preparedness
      An Estimated 91 Percent of Nursing Home Staff Nationwide Received the Required COVID-19 Vaccine Doses, and an Estimated 56 Percent of Staff Nationwide Received a Booster Dose
      Posthospital Skilled Nursing Facility Care Provided to Dually Eligible Beneficiaries in Indiana Generally Met Medicare Level-of-Care Requirements
      CMS's COVID-19 Data Included Required Information From the Vast Majority of Nursing Homes, but CMS Could Take Actions To Improve Completeness and Accuracy of the Data
      California Did Not Ensure That Nursing Facilities Always Reported Incidents of Potential Abuse or Neglect of Medicaid Beneficiaries and Did Not Always Prioritize Allegations Properly
      Georgia Generally Ensured That Nursing Facilities Reported Allegations of Potential Abuse or Neglect of Medicaid Beneficiaries and Prioritized Allegations Timely
      Florida Did Not Ensure That Nursing Facilities Always Reported Allegations of Potential Abuse or Neglect of Medicaid Beneficiaries and Did Not Always Assess, Prioritize, or Investigate Reported Incidents
      Iowa Should Improve Its Oversight of Selected Nursing Homes' Compliance With Federal Requirements for Life Safety and Emergency Preparedness
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    • View Reports in Progress
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, OIG has identified a spike in the number of reports alleging elder harm and neglect. Also, of great concern is the rise in the number of bad actors preying on Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries during the public health crisis. In response, our Office of Investigations launched an initiative to raise awareness of fraud and abuse in elder care settings. Learn about Operation CARE.

  • OIG annually publishes the top unimplemented recommendations that, in our agency's view, would most positively affect HHS programs in terms of cost savings, program effectiveness and efficiency, and public health and safety if implemented. Recommendations concerning nursing homes that were unimplemented as of December 2022 appear below. Find all top unimplemented recommendations of 2022 here.

    • CMS should take actions to ensure that incidents of potential abuse or neglect of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, including those in nursing homes and hospice care as well as children enrolled in Medicaid, are identified and reported.
    • CMS should address inappropriate nursing home discharges through training, by implementing deferred initiatives, and by assessing the effectiveness of its enforcement against inappropriate facility-initiated discharges.
  • OIG annually identifies top management and performance challenges HHS faces as it strives to fulfill its mission. View challenges regarding nursing homes.

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  • *Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), KFF analysis of CMS Care Compare data, "Total Number of Residents in Certified Nursing Facilities," July 2022, accessed at Total Number of Residents in Certified Nursing Facilities on May 14, 2023.


What is the biggest complaint in nursing homes? ›

1. Slow Response Times. The most common complaint in most nursing homes is the unresponsiveness of staff members.

Why is it important for nursing home administrators to understand federal and state poilicies? ›

Federal and state regulations establish minimum quality standards and ensure that sufficient services are being provided by nursing homes.

What do you see as some very important issues in nursing homes? ›

Typically, in a nursing home, there are a few main problems that can exist that could cause your loved one harm. This includes physical abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse, malnourishment, and neglect. Discover more about each of these below.

What questions to ask at a nursing home interview? ›

Questions to ask in a nursing interview
  • What is your culture like here?
  • What is the management style?
  • How do you like working here?
  • What kinds of qualities are you seeking?
  • What medical record systems will I be using?
  • What type of orientation or training do you provide?
  • Who will I be reporting to?
May 9, 2023

What is the most common patient complaint? ›

Common Patient Complaints
  • Scheduling difficulties. ...
  • Disagreements with staff. ...
  • Feeling unheard. ...
  • Not getting enough time with the doctor. ...
  • Waiting too long. ...
  • Confusion with insurance and billing.
Dec 17, 2017

What are the most common health complaints? ›

Top 10 Most Common Health Issues
  • Physical Activity and Nutrition.
  • Overweight and Obesity.
  • Tobacco.
  • Substance Abuse.
  • Mental Health.
  • Injury and Violence.
  • Environmental Quality.


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