Big gaps found in nursing homes' disaster plans - CBS46 News

Big gaps found in nursing homes' disaster plans

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Government investigators say many nursing home disaster plans look good on paper and even meet federal guidelines -- until they're put under the microscope.  

Nearly seven years after Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans exposed the vulnerability of nursing homes, serious shortcomings persist.  

The investigators say a closer look shows emergency plans required by the government often lack specific steps such as coordinating with local authorities, notifying relatives or even pinning name tags and medication lists to residents in an evacuation.  

The report recommends that Medicare and Medicaid add specific emergency planning and training steps to the existing federal requirement that nursing homes have a disaster plan. Many such steps are now nonbinding and disregarded.

Of the more than 3 million people who spent at least some time in a nursing home during 2009, nearly 1.2 million were in the top 10 disaster-prone states.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)