A lack of oversight into nursing home investigations in Los Angeles County has caused a backlog of thousands of complaints, including 945 complaints that have been open for more than two years, according to an audit from the Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller.
There were 3,044 open investigations as of March 14, the auditors found.
While the county has to start investigating a complaint within 10 days, there is no timeframe for finishing. The county health department oversees nursing homes on behalf of the state and federal governments.
The report recommends managers evaluate the time it takes to complete investigations and set time frames, as well as be responsible in explaining delays. Additionally, auditors found health officials “could not identify the number of people doing investigations and has overstated how many staff members are needed to complete inspections,” Kaiser Health News reported.
The head of the department has said he would need $7 million more to meet government requirements, although critics have countered that funding is being used as an excuse.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors ordered the audit after an investigation by Kaiser Health News, published by the Los Angeles News Group.
A separate report is expected to include suggestions for addressing the backlog, and the department said the audit has provided helpful suggestions.
“The reduction of the backlog of open complaint investigations is a high priority,” the public health department said in a statement.