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Kentucky Nursing Homes Among the Least Inspected in the Nation

In August 2023, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Kentucky has one of the nation’s worst backlogs of overdue nursing home inspections.  In July, the Herald-Leader reported 73% of Kentucky’s 277 nursing homes were listed as going more than two years without an “annual” inspection.  Only Maryland has a larger backlog, at 75%.  The national backlog average is 11%. 

One reason for the backlog is fewer than 1 in 5 of Kentucky’s nursing home inspector positions were filled as of the fall of 2022, the nation’s worst vacancy rate.  Inspectors have quit because of long hours, travel, and low pay. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires states to conduct standard surveys of nursing homes every year to uncover deficiencies in care.  CMS aims for these surveys to discovery problems in care before they become serious enough to cause harm to nursing home residents.  The backlog leaves health and safety problems with residents undiscovered.   

The Cabinet is working through the backlog prioritizing nursing homes that have a history of more serious care complaints.  The inspectors are one way to monitor the quality of care for residents in nursing homes.  However, USA TODAY reported that most nursing homes with fewer nurses and aides than federal guidelines are not cited for it by inspectors.  Even though, decades of research have found understaffing to be one of the best predictors of quality of nursing home care and critical to reducing nursing home neglect

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