In a survey of a California nursing home conducted in December 2020 the surveyor cited the facility as being in immediate jeopardy because the ambient temperature in three rooms was below the required 71-81 degrees Fahrenheit range. The survey noted that cold temperatures can cause depression and lead to inflammation because it inhibits blood circulation by preventing people from moving around. In addition, the surveyor said that cold temperatures also slow down the immune system's response time, making it harder to fend off germs.
As a result, the nursing home was found to be in violation of F-Tag F 584, which is entitled “Safe Environment.” Among other things, F 584 requires facilities to maintain a “comfortable and safe temperature level” of between 71 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. In the survey, the surveyor also indicated that the nursing home didn’t have a sufficient disaster plan in place to handle unusually cold weather. In doing so, the surveyor referenced AFL 13-31, which is a California All Facilities Letter that advised facilities on how to deal with an unusually cold weather pattern in December 2013. AFL 13-31 advised all facilities to have disaster plans in place which take into account all types of hazards, including the possibility of severe weather caused by freezing conditions and/or winter storms.
A finding of immediate jeopardy can be devastating to a nursing home, as such citations typically result in a civil monetary penalty ranging from $3,050 per day to $10,000 per day and may be imposed retroactively to the date of the incident.
In addition, a facility cited for immediate jeopardy only has 23 days to resolve the situation. If a surveyor conducts a revisit survey and the situation hasn’t been addressed by that time Medicaid termination will go into effect.
Given the severity of the financial consequences to nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities (SNF’s) that are found to be in immediate jeopardy it’s crucial to stay in compliance with all the relevant healthcare rules and regulations. Clearpol’s Policies.ai software can help SNF’s stay on top of the ever-changing and complex healthcare regulatory landscape. Having robust healthcare compliance policies and procedures in place will not only protect the health of patients, but also stave off serious financial penalties.