Long-term carelessness

State fumbles investigations of complaints at nursing homes

Complaints made at nursing homes across the state haven’t been properly investigated by the California Department of Public Health, a recently released report from State Auditor Elaine Howle finds.

The state monitors the care of more than 300,000 residents at 2,500 long-term facilities, over half of which are nursing homes, according to California Healthline. The audit was requested by lawmakers last year following reports of a backlog of complaints; the findings showed more than 11,000 complaints at nursing homes statewide, and more than 40 percent were classified as having caused or likely to cause harm to a patient. Howle noted that DPH was inconsistent in its investigation of those complaints, which stayed open between 14 and 1,042 days.

In response, DPH Director Ron Chapman has pledged to increase oversight of district offices.