Nearly 70% of Nursing Homes Do Not Provide Sufficient Care to Residents, Report Finds
Surprise inspections of 112 nursing homes in the state between 2001 and 2003 found that 68% of nursing homes did not comply with a state mandate requiring each resident to receive at least 3.2 hours of care each day, according to a an attorney general's office report released Wednesday, the Contra Costa Times reports. The inspection program, "Operation Guardians," was created in 2000 to address concerns about the quality of care in the state's 1,400 nursing homes. For the inspections, a team of two special agents, an investigative auditor, a nurse evaluator, a fire inspector and a physician specializing in geriatric medicine visited nursing homes in 16 counties (Myers, Contra Costa Times, 1/22). The program inspected about 10% of nursing homes in California during the program (Lynch, San Jose Mercury News, 1/22). Officials found that:
- About 37% of 75 facilities visited between 2002 and 2003 did not properly document whether caregivers had taken and passed tuberculosis tests. Four of the facilities had an employee who tested positive for the disease but did not receive further testing;
- 33% of 75 facilities visited between 2002 and 2003 failed to properly inventory residents' property, which resulted in the loss of items such as jewelry, purses and money;
- The number of nursing assistants lacking proper certification increased;
- Some of the facilities visited showed signs of inadequate care, including failures to update patients' files or report alleged abuse;
- Other nursing homes had unsanitary conditions, such as rotten food in refrigerators and signs of vermin on floors; and
- Some of the facilities visited violated safety rules, such as regulations for storing combustible oxygen tanks.
The inspections led to the felony convictions of a nurse who stole narcotics and of an administrator-in-training who stole $49,000 from residents and their families. Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) said he hopes to pursue more criminal and civil lawsuits in the future. Since 1999, criminal filings for nursing home abuses have increased 749%, and convictions have increased 574%. Lockyer added that he hopes to fund another investigation. He said the most recent investigation cost about $1 million (Contra Costa Times, 1/22). Critics of the investigation say not enough facilities were inspected to make its findings applicable to nursing homes statewide (San Jose Mercury News, 1/22). KPBS' "KPBS News" Wednesday reported on Lockyer's announcement of the report. The segment includes comments from Lockyer (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 1/21). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. 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.