We're seeing a lot of investigatory activity aimed at long-term care facilities. Facilities must be prepared and ready to respond when the government comes knocking. Let's take a look at some of the tips to help you get ready for investigations in this expert long term care training article.
Do not destroy anything: Do not get rid of a single piece of paper once you know that there is an active investigation going on. You should implement a document. Hold that as a policy that goes out to all of your record keeping departments and all of the record generating department that says do not destroy anything relating to X particularly if you have an idea of the scope of the investigation or if it's fairly specific.
And you want to document that you've given that guidance in the event that there is some issue down the road, the documents turn out missing or were inadvertently destroyed. You want to show that you made a good faith effort to preserve evidence.
Protect your original documents as much as possible. If you do get served with a search warrant, please do your best to impose upon those executing the search warrant to just take copies and offer to make those copies so that they're not taking your original files to the extent that you can do that.
Many agencies are very cooperative with that because they understand the importance of those files. But at a minimum, keep an inventory of anything that gets removed from the premises. If they take computers, note which ones, where they came from, if they take files, if they take backup tapes, anything that’s removed from the premises, make sure that there's an inventory.
And you're entitled to ask that question. You know, it should be absolutely consistent with the search warrant. And frankly, if they're taking something that's not on the search warrant, you can object to that.
When you find out what the subject or matter of the investigation is, do your own internal investigation. Don’t let the government be three steps ahead of you.
Interview the employees: Gather and review the documents, the chart. Let everybody in the loop know, if you have your lawyers involved, other point people in the facility. Make sure your defense team is in the loop particularly if you're looking at a situation that might have civil as well as criminal implications.
You might have your facility attorney who helps you with your regulatory advice and et cetera on the case. But you also may need a criminal defense attorney. You want to make sure that your attorneys are coordinating and collaborating. But the most important thing is to look at what the investigators are looking at. And don’t let them be ahead of you on that.
Logging information: And just be aware that the reality is these investigations morph and can start out one way and turn into something else. But do you have plan? Do your employees know what to do if certain things happen? Do your employees have some long term care training on how to deal with investigators or how to deal with information request?
These kinds of events can be extremely stressful for staff. And you just have to do the best you can to assure them that they will get through it. Everybody does. And that they should proceed with business as usual and make sure that first and foremost, the quality of care is not compromised by distraction over what's happening in the facility, that it's being handled, that it's in good hands and they just need to worry about dealing with issues honestly and truthfully if they come up. But taking care of their residents is priority one.
And you do get through these things. They can be difficult and troubling and upsetting and demoralizing to staff as well. But if handled appropriately, they are absolutely survivable.
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