Each Nursing Home Complaint Needs to Be Investigated Thoroughly
A state agency is taking care of the nursing home complaint of relatives who say that investigations of care facilities and nursing homes have been giving them no information. In one case, a woman received a letter in 2011 from state health investigators that said her mother had had a stroke at an assisted-living facility and died. She then wondered if they even reviewed the nursing home complaint / case.
The woman said she was never formally interviewed by investigators, even when they found her mother convulsing from the severe stroke. No one was ever in any sort of trouble over the incident and she says that investigators didn’t seem too concerned when she tried to bring some information to their attention.
Now this woman has been on a mission to make the state agency even stricter toward health care facilities and to give the public some say so in matters involving their loved ones.
The woman feels that the agencies do not see the families as reliable sources of information. Instead, she feels that the agencies look at the facilities as the only sources of information. This has made the state Health Department and the Office of Health Facility Complaints targets because they regulate the more than 2,000 facilities in the states. They have received over 12,000 complaints every year and about 1,000 of them are investigated. One in four of these facilities are found to have committed violations.
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A victory was scored in February when it was acknowledged by state health officials that a policy changed needed to be made to make sure families had a part in state investigations. New policy requires investigators to interview the relatives of vulnerable adults involved in care facility complaints. This allows the agencies to communicate with the families and to make sure they receive copies of completed investigations.
The new policy has been applauded because it is said that the investigators do “fall short’ at times when making sure they have collected all of the information they need. It is also said that staff resources are at play rather than a bias toward the care industry or the facility. However, the care industry has been reported as saying that they don’t believe the state agencies are keeping their interests in mind. They don’t believe they have been overly friendly as has been reported by patient family members because they are subject to so many investigations.
The problem, however, has been that information has been omitted in investigations when they have been done. This has something to do with shortened public reports due to a policy change a number of years ago. The policy change was put in place to limit the amount of time investigators had to spend doing paperwork, which made the reports easier to read. In recent months, even the dates of incidents have been omitted in order to keep the information from the media and to also keep them from contacting the families of people who have been injured in care facilities.