Lawmakers To Launch Probe Into Investigations of Patient Abuse
Recently, California legislators said they plan to hold public hearings and conduct on-site investigations to determineÂ whether the Office of Protective Services properly looked into patient injuries and deaths at state institutions for residents with developmental disabilities, California Watch reports.
The California Department of Developmental Services oversees OPS and the institutions.
Officials plan to investigate OPS actions at five board-and-care institutions in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Sonoma and Tulare counties that serveÂ a combinedÂ 1,800 patients.
The facilities treat residents with conditions such as cerebral palsy, severe autism and intellectual disabilities (Gabrielson, California Watch, 2/24).
Case files and legal documents from the last several years suggest that many incidents of patient abuse occurred at the five institutions, according to an investigation by California Watch.
TheÂ investigation found that detective and patrol officers from OPS did not properlyÂ evaluate many of the cases (Gabrielson, California Watch, 2/23).
According to the report, 327 substantiated patient abuse cases and 762 unexplained patient injuries have been recorded at the institutions since 2006, but most of these incidents have not led to prosecutions.
Sen. Carol Liu (D-Glendale) said lawmakers would examine OPS because California Watch findings "call into question the efficacy of the investigators employed by the department."
Assembly member Jim Beall (D-San Jose) said lawmakers need to investigate the developmental centers first-hand, with on-site tours of each facility.
Response From Department of Developmental Services
Terri Delgadillo, director of CDDS, said in a statement that she welcomes legislators' scrutiny.
She said her agency is "fully committed to working with the Legislature to further enhance resident protection at developmental centers" (California Watch, 2/24).
Officials at the agency reported that 67Â workers at the institutionsÂ have been dismissed since 2008 because of client-related actions. However, CDDS officials said they could not reveal how many dismissals resulted from patient abuse or how many employees have been arrested or prosecuted (Montgomery, "The California Report," KQED, 2/24).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.