Oversight Hearing Tackles Backlog of Caregiver Abuse Complaints
On Tuesday, the California Assembly Committee on Health and Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care held an oversight hearing in response to complaints about regulators' ability to process abuse complaints against nursing assistants, the Center for Investigative Reporting reports (Bale, Center for Investigative Reporting, 1/21).
The hearing comes after a CIR investigation found that the California Department of Public Health in 2009 dismissed nearly 1,000 complaints of violence and misconduct by nursing assistants and home health aides amid a growing backlog of such claims.
Since 2009, an "overwhelming majority" of similar complaints have been closed without action, according to CIR (California Healthline, 9/11/13).
Details of Hearing
During the hearing, Evon Lenerd, a state health department official whose branch conducts caregiver abuse investigations, said the state has a backlog of about 700 investigations that are more than one year old. She blamed the time-consuming process of going through each case for the backup.
However, Patricia McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, testified that individuals in Lenerd's branch said there are more than 10,000 backlogged investigations.
McGinnis called the agency "extraordinarily unresponsive," adding, "Their pattern has been to do nothing and hope no one notices."
According to CIR, the heavy backlog is problematic because proving allegations becomes more difficult over time because of:
- Complainants and witnesses dying;
- Misplaced evidence; and
- Staff departures.