Tennessee nursing homes which accept Medicare or Medicaid patients, like those throughout the country, have to submit to periodic inspections.

These regular surveys by government officials, which also involve on-site visits, record reviews and the like, focus on both whether patients are receiving the appropriate level of care and the quality of that care.

The results of these surveys help the government decide whether it will continue to pay for patients enrolled in the federally funded health plans.

As a side note, in addition to regular surveys, government officials may also do targeted checks of nursing homes in response to complaints from the public about poor care.

If a nursing home consistently falls short when it comes to caring for its residents, it is quite possible that it will no longer be allowed to take patients on Medicaid or Medicare. This can be a death-knell for a nursing home which counts on that income.

In other cases, poor survey results will land a facility in the Special Focus Facility program, a government initiative which is designed to help troubled nursing homes improve their quality of care.

Nursing homes in this program each at some point in the recent past shown a pattern of substandard care or have had major problems, including problems which actually caused an injury.

These and the reports or enforcement actions which come out of them can provide a treasure trove of information for Knoxville families who suspect their loved one may be a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect.

However, government enforcement actions do not themselves secure compensation for victims. Victims or their families would have to file a separate legal action.