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⭒ New Developments

State Auditor Cites DHS for Lax Nursing Home Oversight

State Auditor Cites DHS for Lax Nursing Home OversightOn Thursday, April 12, the California State Auditor released an important report: Department of Health Services: Its Licensing and Certification Division Is Struggling to Meet State and Federal Oversight Requirements for Skilled Nursing Facilities.The Joint Legislative Audit Committee sought the audit in March 2006 in response to a request from Senators Alquist, Ortiz and Cox. These senators expressed concern about serious oversight failures that were brought to their attention during special legislative hearings held in 2005. CANHR testified at those hearings and led the call for an audit.The report documents many well-known problems with the DHS nursing home oversight system and presents several recommendations. It contains these findings:DHS has struggled to initiate and close complaint investigations and communicate with complainants in a timely manner.DHS did not correctly prioritize certain complaints and understated the severity of certain deficient practices it identified at skilled nursing facilities.DHS has yet to implement an Internet-based inquiry system as required by state law to provide consumers with accessible public information regarding skilled nursing facilities.The system DHS uses to track complaint investigations regarding skilled nursing facilities has weak controls over data integrity that could allow erroneous data to be entered into the system without being detected.The timing of some federal recertification surveys is more predictable than others, which diminishes the effectiveness of these reviews.DHS has weak controls over its disbursements of funds from the Health Facilities Citation Penalties Account, which limit its ability to ensure that funds are used for necessary purposes.Despite efforts to increase staffing, DHS has struggled to fill its vacant facility evaluator positions with registered nurses. This reliance on registered nurses is also problematic because of the current nursing shortage and higher salaries offered elsewhere in state service.Read the report at Summary Sheet (pdf) (pdf) following articles were published by the Sacramento Bee and Press-Enterprise.Sacramento Bee News Article (pdf)Press Enterprise News Article (pdf)