Judge Could Rule in Nursing Home Inspection Case
A San Francisco Superior Court judge on Tuesday might issue an order outlining the conditions under which Department of Health Services' nursing home inspectors must comply with state and federal laws regarding the investigation of complaints, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
In October, the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform filed a lawsuit against DHS alleging that delayed investigations of complaints compromise patient safety.
State law requires nursing home complaints of neglect or maltreatment to be investigated within 10 business days. However, DHS in the first half of 2006 investigated fewer than half of complaints within the required time.
Kathy Billingsley, who oversees nursing home inspections for the state, said DHS will not be able to comply with the law until mid-2007 because the agency is not adequately staffed. According to Billingsley, complaints declined by 29% between 2002 and 2005, but the number of inspectors also declined from 536 in 2001 to 390 currently.
DHS will use part of $20 million in recent funding to hire new inspectors.
In addition, Billingsley said inspectors are overworked because they must complete licensing work under a federal government contract. The state could lose $56 million in federal funding this year if the work is not completed.
The judge will hear arguments from both sides Tuesday (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 9/12).