What is a State Survey for Nursing Homes?

If you are considering moving a loved one to a nursing home, you may be interested in learning more about regulations designed to keep residents safe.  In this article, we will address the question of “what is a state survey for nursing homes?” Here, you can learn more about state surveys and other regulations that can impact how nursing homes operate, as well as what safety and health measures are put into place.

What is a State Survey for Nursing Homes?

Any nursing home that participates in the Medicaid and Medicare programs are required to submit an annual survey and subsequent certification process.  This survey and certification process is overseen by the state Health Department.  In order to obtain funding from Medicaid or Medicare, a state survey for nursing homes must show that the facility is in substantial compliance with the requirements of each program, as well as applicable state laws.

The purpose of the state survey is to assess whether nursing homes are operating with a quality of care that is in line with standards, applicable laws, and industry regulations.  The survey is based on a set of expectations placed on nursing homes, such as:

  • Nursing homes must maintain compliance with Medicaid and Medicare program requirements.
  • Any deficiencies noted in the survey must be addressed and resolved promptly.
  • Residents must be provided with the care and services needed to meet the “highest practicable level of functioning”.

The results of state surveys must be available for review.  Family members considering nursing homes can consult the Medicare website for more information about survey results, and view the surveys themselves.

Family members who have questions about a nursing home, or want to know more about their loved one’s legal rights as a resident can learn more by contacting Brown, Christie & Green to speak with one of our nursing home attorneys.

State Surveys Help Protect Nursing Home Residents

The goal of state surveys is to help protect nursing home residents and ensure that facilities are providing quality, safe, and effective care.  These surveys assess a variety of functions within a nursing home, including:

  • Record-keeping, compliance, and care plan reviews
  • Policies on infection control, hygiene, and cleanliness
  • Health and happiness of residents
  • Quality of care and services provided

Of course, the surveys themselves dive much deeper into the workings of a nursing home.  This is just an overview of some of the most important functions and features of a state survey for nursing homes.

What Happens if Nursing Homes are Deficient?

During the annual state survey, if a nursing home is found to be deficient in meeting requirements or regulations, then a Survey Report Form will be completed.  This form records alleged deficiencies or violations.  Any violations reported by staff, family members, or residents must be verified before being included in the report as a known deficiency.

If, upon review, a survey team determines that there are deficiencies, then the nursing home will be subject to sanctions.  The sanctions will depend on a variety of factors including:

  • Whether the violation was isolated, a pattern, or widespread
  • Whether residents were placed in immediate jeopardy
  • Whether the violation caused any actual harm to residents

If a nursing home is found to be violating regulations, they may be subject to a variety of consequences, such as:

  • Revocation of Medicaid or Medicare funding
  • Denial of payment for new resident admissions
  • Transfer of residents to another facility
  • Temporary management imposed to resolve violations

In most cases, nursing homes that are found to be deficient are given the opportunity to make changes and get back on track.  There are always exceptions to this rule, however, if residents are in immediate danger.

Things to Note about State Surveys for Nursing Homes

Once you move your loved one into a nursing home, the results of a state survey for nursing homes can provide you with information about how the facility is performing.  If there are deficiencies noted, then you have the opportunity to address whether your loved one will remain at the facility or be moved elsewhere.

You can also tell a lot about the inner-workings of a nursing home based on how staff members approach the topic of surveys or visits from “state”.  If staff members are fearful, anxious, or seem irritated by the state being involved, it may be a sign that things are not quite right.  Nursing homes that consistently do well on state surveys are those that offer high quality care and services all year long, and are not fearful of a bad report.

If you have concerns about your loved one’s health, safety, or legal rights, it is always a good idea to contact a nursing home attorney to discuss your concerns.  An attorney can help you understand how the laws and regulations operate, and what you can do to protect your loved one.

Nursing Home Attorneys Work for You

At Brown, Christie & Green, we have years of experience managing all sorts of nursing home abuse and neglect cases.  We have also helped numerous individuals learn more about nursing homes and the legal rights of residents.  To speak with one of our attorneys, fill out our online form for a free, confidential consultation.


meagan cline

Written By Meagan Cline

Meagan Cline is a professional legal researcher and writer. She lends her expertise to FNHA and our websites, including Birth Injury Guide and MedMalFirm.com.