The role of a surveyor can be a difficult one. Our team of licensing surveyors need to maintain neutrality as regulators and be able to apply the Arizona Administrative Code (otherwise known as “the rules”) to a wide variety of facilities within the healthcare system.  Part of our surveillance includes investigating complaints– which can be generated from an array of internal and external sources.  When the complaints come because of TV or other media coverage- it can pose unique challenges for our team.  But…  no matter where the complaint comes from, our job is to use facts and evidence to drive our investigation, decision-making, and interventions. 

There are 3 forms of evidence that we use to substantiate an allegation made in a complaint: 1) observation; 2) documentation; and 3) interviews. Two of these forms of evidence need to be present before we find that a complaint is “substantiated”.  By using these tried and true evidence-based tools we put ourselves in the best position to identify real health and safety problems without jumping to conclusions.

Focusing on facts and evidence (and not allowing one’s self to be driven by media coverage) is a good start…  but there are a few things that both surveyors and healthcare professionals can do to keep focus on providing a healthy and safe environment. Keep good records, document, sign and store up to date data, maintain consistent supervision for those that require it, follow your agency’s policies and procedures without fail, report what’s required, be proactive (not reactive), and seek out ongoing education in your field.  Don’t cut corners when it comes to care… and don’t be afraid to admit a mistake or that you do not have all the answers. 

So, if you happen to hear or see a TV story about a facility, keep in perspective that the story might focus on anecdotes and what the reporter thinks they know or even just their opinion- not necessarily what the evidence demonstrates.  In a time when information is disseminated second by second rather than day by day, let’s remember that we all share the same goal, to promote Health and Wellness for all Arizonans, which includes providing surveyors, community, clients and staff accurate and factual information.

Curious about the real scoop on how all of our licensed facilities are doing?  Check out our AZ Care Check website which has the details about our evidence-based investigations and surveys.