Center for Investigative Reporting

Reports of abuse and neglect are hidden and uninvestigated

California’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) had a problem: a big backlog of reports of abuse, neglect or theft.

The state agency is charged with investigating any claims that nursing assistants and home health aides have abused, neglect, or otherwise mistreated patients.

Five years ago, nearly 1000 of those claims were quietly closed.

The Center for Investigative Reporting looked into this and determined that since 2009, most of claims of abuse, neglect and theft reported to the CDPH have been closed after very limited investigations. The public health investigators were never contacting the victim, or even leaving the office to look into claims.The_center_for_investigative_Reporting

Sometimes, they were simply closing cases —without any review or investigation at all.

Because of this tactic, the Center for Investigative Reporting found limited information about the closed abuse and neglect claims. But they did find hundreds of uninvestigated reports of:

  • Serious injuries
  • Suspicious deaths
  • Physical and sexual assaults

In many of these claims, caregivers were not only never punished; but also, kept their licenses and moved on to other facilities.

Putting “elderly, sick and disabled” at risk

CDPH has the duty of protecting vulnerable patients.

Instead, their actions are putting thousands of people at risk. Health care workers who were accused of harming patients are still out there, and still working.

Statewide, public health investigators in 2012 finished 81 percent of their cases without taking action against an accused caregiver, up from 58 percent in 2006.

See The Center for Investigative Reporting: Quick dismissal of caregiver abuse cases puts Calif. Patients at risk

Many elderly or infirm victims will never get justice in California. The victims and their families may never even know what happened to their claims.

This shocking report reminds us that it is crucial for people to have the ability to sue when they are harmed by nursing home abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, that right is being eroded every day.

About Kevin

Kevin Coluccio was recently named one of the Top 10 Super Lawyers in Washington State. He has long history of successful elder abuse/neglect cases and has a stellar reputation for getting results for his injury clients in serious car crashes, pedestrian accidents, trucking accidents, maritime claims, and asbestos injury cases.