Annual Surveys resume, are you ready?

Surveyors have returned to facilities after the licensure and certification surveys were suspended early into the pandemic when nursing homes closed their doors to visitors.  AHCA visits in 2020 only focused on complaints and infection control issues.  Many facilities have not had an annual licensure & certification survey since 2019 and nurses suffering from “Pandemic Nursing” may not be prepared to be scrutinized.

One Director of Nursing recently admitted “He was particularly concerned about the many opportunities for serious medication errors when providing what he called “pandemic nursing” care—the rushed, physically overwhelming, and emotionally draining care provided to an onslaught of critically ill patients.” During the past year staff may forget the details or get used to taking short cuts just to get their job done.

While facility staff are still dealing with COVID19 and ever-changing priorities they must be ready when the annual inspection returns to the building We must recognize that human factors and working in healthcare during a pandemic can easily lead to medication errors.

A perfect storm for serious medication errors is created by:

  • The hectic pace and disorganization of “pandemic nursing”
  • The constantly under-resourced healthcare environment
  • High nurse-to-patient ratios due to staffing shortages
  • The exhausting and continuous donning of PPE
  • The need for any available nurse, not necessarily the assigned nurse who is familiar with the patient, to manage critical infusions  (Institute for Safe Medical Practices, 2020)

The lapses that inspectors in South Florida are finding can easily be addressed if the facility goes back to basics.  In order to get the nursing staff back on track be proactive. All facility staff should have a refresher on the survey process and med error prevention.  Supervisors should also conduct mock surveys.

Mock surveys and spot checks of medication storage and administration will prepare nurses and also prevent errors. According to an article on “Reducing Medical Errors During a Pandemic”, “Simulation training is an established training tool used in the military, aviation, and civilian settings. It is also a highly effective way to learn from mistakes and failures in a safe environment.”

Don’t be caught off guard when the surveyors visit, provide the support and training needed to ensure compliance and reduce errors.