January 17, 2005

Ms. Manners For Surveyors

Representative Deshotel has filed a bill which mandates that surveyors treat nursing facility staff with courtesy during inspections. It reads specifically:

Sec. 242.0447. DUTIES OF REPRESENTATIVES. The department shall adopt written policies requiring representatives of the department to treat the residents of an institution and the institution's staff with courtesy, consideration, and respect during an inspection, survey, or investigation conducted under Section 242.043 or 242.044 or in accordance with Chapter 32, Human Resources Code.

To enforce this section, the statute calls for the creation of an Internal Affairs Office to investigate complaints:

Sec. 242.0448. INTERNAL AFFAIRS OFFICE. (a) The department shall establish an internal affairs office to investigate complaints by institutions related to an inspection, survey, or investigation conducted under Section 242.043 or 242.044 or in accordance with Chapter 32, Human Resources Code. (b) An institution inspected, surveyed, or investigated by the department or by a representative of the department may report a suspected violation of department policies adopted under Section 242.0447 to the internal affairs office. (c) The internal affairs office shall investigate complaints received from institutions regulated under this chapter.

The Department may not retaliate against a complainant and, if it is found that a violation occurred--the surveyor survey, inspect or investigate the facility after the date such a finding is made:

d) A representative of the department may not retaliate against an institution for filing a complaint with the department's internal affairs office under Subsection (b). A representative of the department who violates this subsection may not inspect, survey, or investigate the institution after the date the department determines the violation of this subsection occurred.

It seems to me that this statute should specify how the facility is to be notified of the results of its complaint. The statute should also have time frames within which the complaint is to be investigated and acted upon.

Also, shouldn't this concept be applied to all providers surveyed, investigated and inspected by DADS?