Attorney General Report Finds Statewide Nursing Home Violations
Surprise inspections of nursing homes statewide have uncovered "substantial problems in the quality of patient care and administrative practices" at those facilities, according to a report released yesterday by the attorney general's office, the Los Angeles Times reports (Rhone, Los Angeles Times, 4/18). Following an earlier report detailing inspections at 22 Northern California nursing homes, Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) yesterday released "Operation Guardians -- 2001 Annual Report," a report that analyzes 50 inspections conducted over the past year by Operation Guardians, a multi-agency task force created by the attorney general's office to conduct random, unannounced inspections of nursing homes. The inspections were conducted in Alameda, Fresno, Los Angeles, Monterey, Napa, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Ventura counties. The report grouped the violations into the five categories:
- Environmental Non-compliance: Forty-eight of the facilities exhibited compliance problems related to "substandard maintenance of grounds and buildings," including mildew, hazardous walking surfaces and infestations by roaches and other bugs and rodents.
- Patient Care Non-compliance: Forty-one homes had violations related to patient care, including malnutrition, inadequate patient records and poor maintenance of emergency medical equipment.
- Administrative Non-compliance: Twenty-seven facilities had administrative, financial or record-keeping problems.
- Fire Safety Violations: Seventeen nursing homes violated local fire safety ordinances.
- Staffing Level Non-compliance: Five facilities had compliance problems related to staffing levels (Office of the Attorney General release, 4/17).
Collin Wong, director of the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, said that problems related to management of patient funds were of particular concern to inspectors, adding that most of the nursing homes exhibited "irregularities" in the management of patient assets and patient trust accounts. Other problems noted by inspectors included unlocked medicine cabinets, improper dressing of patient wounds and poor documentation of patient health status. Seven of the 25 Southern California facilities inspected face allegations of "criminal wrongdoing" and have been referred to the district attorney's office (Los Angeles Times, 4/18).
The unannounced inspections have produced improvements in quality of care and living conditions in over two dozen nursing homes in Southern California this year, Lockyer said, adding, "Encouraging first-year results show Operation Guardians prompting improvements after each surprise inspection." Lockyer said he hopes to expand Operation Guardian inspections to include facilities in other parts of the state (Attorney General release, 4/17). To view the report, go to http://caag.state.ca.us/press/2001/01_037.pdf. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the report.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.