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On March 30, 2016, the Department of Justice announced the launch of 10 regional Elder Justice Task Forces to coordinate and enhance efforts to investigate accusations of improper nursing home care of seniors. The Task Forces, which are modeled after the joint federal and state investigation in 2014 that led to a $38 million settlement between a nursing home provider chain and eight states, will include representatives from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, state and local prosecutors’ offices, the Department of Health and Human Services, state Adult Protective Services agencies, Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs, and law enforcement agencies. The Elder Justice Initiative will be providing litigation support and training to the Elder Justice Task Forces.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division said, “The Department of Justice has a long history of holding nursing homes and long-term care providers accountable when they fail to provide their Medicare and Medicaid residents with even the most basic nursing services to which they were entitled,” and “By bringing everyone to the table, we will be able to more effectively and quickly pursue nursing homes that are jeopardizing the health and well-being of their residents.”

The 10 Elder Justice Task Forces will be launched in the following Districts: Northern District of California, Northern District of Georgia, District of Kansas, Western District of Kentucky, Northern District of Iowa, District of Maryland, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Tennessee and the Western District of Washington.

Proactive Medical Review recommends that facilities develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) program that focuses on improving systems of care, outcomes, and services for residents and staff to ensure the prevention of resident abuse and neglect.

Key components of an effective abuse prevention program should include:

Screening of potential new hires
Training of employees on identifying abuse and when and how to report abuse
Monitoring and supervising staff delivering resident care to ensure care is provided as needed and to identify potential signs of resident abuse
Thorough investigation of incidents and allegations, including injuries of unknown origin
Protecting residents during investigations
Timely reporting of incidents to proper agencies

Proactive Medical Review is partnering with KAHCF and IHCA to offer a QAPI in Action: Abuse Prevention & Reporting Webinar on May 11 at 10 am EST. This session will include an overview of elder abuse prevention in SNF/NF settings and the Elder Justice Act, including reporting requirements. Emphasis will be on the application of facility best practices and QAPI programming to reduce the risk of abuse incidents and to ensure compliance.

Proactive Medical Review offers specialized clinical risk management consulting services to support the proactive management, prevention, and mitigation of risk through Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) efforts designed to achieve and sustain quality outcomes.

For more information on how Proactive Medical Review can assist you in identifying your risks and developing a comprehensive QAPI plan for improving the quality of care and services provided and your facility, please contact us at 812-471-7777.

More information regarding the Elder Justice Task Forces can be found at:www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-launches-10-regional-elder-justice-task-forces

Shelly Maffia, MSN, MBA, RN, LNHA, QCP
Clinical Consultant for Proactive Medical Review & Consulting, LLC
smaffia@proactivemedicalreview.com