Tuesday, April 22, 2014
The Kaiser Health Network, in conjunction with the LA Times, recently ran a story by Anna Gorman, Waiting – And – Waiting On The Nursing Home Inspector. As the title implies, the story discusses the length of time taken to complete an investigation regarding the care of a nursing home resident who died under the care of a nursing home. Although the lawsuit was long over, "[t]he public health department ... still hasn’t finished its investigation [and a]s a result, when consumers check public records on nursing home quality, they won’t find any report of ... [the] case..." According to the story, the length of time in this one case isn't unusual and
is just one example of hundreds in Los Angeles County and thousands statewide in which investigations by nursing home regulators have remained incomplete for months, sometimes years. There were 3,044 open cases in the county as of mid-March, 945 of which date back two years or more, according to an audit released last week by the Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller.
Readers of this blog may recall an earlier post about the story on the backlog of inspections and the attempt to clear them by ordering some closed without a full inspection. That story resulted in an audit by the LA County Supervisors, which was recently released. That audit showed "a lack of central oversight over inspections, noting that the department did not set or track timelines for investigations. The department also didn’t properly manage its funding, leaving about $4 million in its budget unspent over the last two fiscal years, the audit reported."
A story about the audit is available here. The story notes that
The report recommended that the department set time frames for completing investigations and require managers to explain delays. The auditor also recommended that managers evaluate the varying amounts of time it takes to complete investigations. Inspectors in one district, for example, take more than 16 hours, while inspectors in another take about six hours...The auditor found that delays occurred in a wide range of cases, including those classified as “immediate jeopardy,” in which a nursing home’s actions could cause serious injury or death to a resident. In one case, the auditor determined that the inspector initiated an investigation the same day but didn’t close the case until nearly a year later.
The department's statement released as a result of the audit is referenced in the article. Additional stories about the issue are available by searching the LA Times website.