Audit Criticizes Poor Oversight and Quality of Care at California Nursing Homes
San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) December 26, 2018 – A recent report accused California health regulators of placing nursing home residents’ health in danger by allowing substandard care to persist at facilities throughout the state. The California State Auditor criticized the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, and the Department of Health Care Services for lack of coordinated oversight.
According to the state auditor, the CDPH did not conduct required inspections or issue timely citations for poor care. The department failed to cite or fine facilities in most of the cases where investigators discovered problems that could severely hurt residents.
“When nursing homes prioritize profits ahead of quality of care, patients end up suffering,” commented elder law attorney Mark R. Gilfix of Gilfix & La Poll Associates. “The public health department plays a key role in holding nursing homes accountable. As a result, it is essential for the department to work with other state agencies to ensure nursing homes meet the desired standards of care.”
Data revealed a significant rise in the number of incidents that could result in serious injuries or fatalities for patients. In California, citations for poor care at nursing facilities rose by almost a third from 2006 to 2015. Incidents that exposed patients to the risk of severe injuries or death, or actually caused them, increased by 35 percent during that time.
Over the same decade, profits for California’s largest private nursing home operators soared by tens of millions of dollars. The state audit investigated Brius Healthcare Services, Longwood Management Corporation and Plum Healthcare Group, all based in the Bay Area. The report found that Brius had received more citations for substandard care than other California nursing home operators.
CDPH Director Karen Smith wrote a letter to the state auditor in which she disagreed with the allegations of ineffective oversight. However, she said the department is working on issuing timely citations. The Department of Health Care Services promised to work with the other two state agencies to improve overall nursing home oversight.