Audit: DPH Failed in Nursing Home Complaint Investigations
California's Department of Public Health has failed to adequately investigate complaints made at nursing homes across the state, according to a state audit released Thursday, Kaiser Health New/San Jose Mercury News reports (Gorman, Kaiser Health News/San Jose Mercury News, 10/31).
The audit was requested after lawmakers received reports about a backlog of complaints about long-term care facilities (California Healthline, 3/13).
DPH monitors more than 2,500 long-term facilities, about half of which are nursing homes, that serve up to 300,000 residents (Lundstrom, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 10/30).
The audit found a backlog of more than 11,000 unresolved complaints at nursing homes across California (Kaiser Health News/San Jose Mercury News, 10/31).
More than 40% of the complaints were classified as having caused or were likely to cause harm to a patient. Those complaints on average stayed open between 14 and 1,042 days.
The audit also found that about 1,000 of the complaints were made against:
- Certified nurse assistants; and
- Home health aides (Flores, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 10/30).
The audit also found that DPH was inconsistent in the quality of its investigations.
State Auditor Elaine Howle said some of the findings were "very concerning" (Kaiser Health News/San Jose Mercury News, 10/31).
The audit recommended that DPH:
- Create a time frame for completing investigations;
- Enhance monitoring of district offices' compliance with laws;
- Implement a system to improve the tracking of complaints; and
- Provide guidance for district offices.
DPH agreed with several of the recommendations. However, it rejected the suggestion to make specific time frames for completing complaint investigations ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 10/30).
DPH Director Ron Chapman said the agency has pledged to increase its oversight of district offices (Kaiser Health News/San Jose Mercury News, 10/31).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.