NYS Attorney General Report on Underreported Nursing Home Deaths Underscores Importance of Compliance and Preparation

Harris Beach PLLC

Late last week New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report that found the state Department of Health underreported COVID-19 deaths of nursing home residents by as much as 50 percent.

The report – generated after months of investigation by the AG’s office into – alleges that nursing homes failed to adequately protect residents, including failure to properly isolate residents that tested positive and demanding sick employees continue to work.

The report, as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s response, has put nursing homes and other long-term care facilities back in the spotlight, as they continue to face intense scrutiny during the pandemic. It is a strong reminder of the importance of having proper procedures in place should a facility face an infection control policy audit, governmental investigation or resident lawsuit.

Our health care and government investigations teams have prepared a list of key steps to follow to ensure compliance and how to respond should a facility become the subject of an investigation. Preparation is key. Nursing homes should, for example:

  • Establish protocols for responding to an inspection request, government subpoena, infection control policy audit, or regulatory deficiency or “immediate jeopardy” investigation
  • Activate policies and procedures and conduct internal audits and periodic review of processes
  • Train and orient staff on infection control policies and any change in DOH directives for treatment of COVID positive residents
  • Preserve evidence that may be subject to an audit or investigation
  • Conduct interviews with key personnel on a privileged basis
  • Assist in identification of potential insurance coverage
  • Execute crisis communications response to all stakeholders, internal and external

Download our full Long-Term Care Investigations Services summary to read more.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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