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Nursing home neglect complaints closed early by health officials

Entrusting the care of a loved one to a nursing home can be a tremendously difficult decision for some people to make. It is generally expected that a parent or grandparent will be well-cared for to the best of a facility's ability, but sometimes issues of nursing home neglect or abuse arise. In these instances, some individuals choose to file a complaint with health officials. Recently, it was revealed that one California agency was closing down reports of abuse without adequately addressing the complaints.

Apparently, a California county that was under contract with both federal and local officials was responsible for the closing of complaints for about eighteen months. State law dictates that an investigation into nursing home complaints must begin within 10 days of the complaint. That time period is shortened to 24 hours if it is believed that harm or death may be the result of any reported neglect or abuse. However, health officials report that they have thousands of cases that date back to the early 2000s.

Officials purportedly decided that the backlog of nursing home complaints had to be dealt with. Systematically, inspectors were advised to immediately close anonymous complaints as well as complaints that came in after a nursing home had previously passed an inspection. Additionally, some complaints were closed out by simply looking at the results of other previously closed complaints against a nursing home -- if other claims were unsubstantiated, it was assumed the newer one was too.

The full impact of the systematic closing of backlogged nursing home complaints is unknown. However, families who filed complaints concerning nursing home neglect are likely wondering why their concern was never addressed. For some California families, the next step may be to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one that died because of nursing home neglect or abuse. Financial compensation that is awarded could enable a family to deal with whatever medical or funeral costs may have resulted from any proven neglect.

Source: Kaiser Health News, L.A. County Officials Told Inspectors To Cut Short Nursing Home Probes, Anna Gorman, March 3, 2014

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