Internal documents have revealed that L.A. County public health officials made a strategic decision not to thoroughly investigate health and safety complaints at nursing homes in a misguided attempt to reduce backlogged workload.
An article in the Sacramento Bee describes the “Complaint Workload Clean Up Project” as an effort to handle the Los Angles County Department of Public Health’s vast backlog of nursing home complaints by encouraging inspectors to “close cases without fully investigating them,” with emails advising the practice dating back as far as the summer of 2012. Inspectors were told to disregard complaints submitted anonymously and to examine previous reports about the facility in question instead of conducting a firsthand inspection. However, they were told to “fully investigate complaints that were high-profile, were part of a lawsuit or involved alleged abuse or neglect.”
In response, the California Department of Public Health stated that “the county’s approach conflicts with the policies and protocols” of the state department, and that county officials have been instructed to “immediately discontinue” it. Nearly one-third of the state’s nursing homes are in L.A. county.
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