Audit faults state oversight of nursing homes

SHNS file photoState Auditor Suzanne Bump

New audit results suggest state regulators have not properly prioritized and conduct investigations of cases of alleged mistreatment of nursing home residents in Massachusetts, prompting a call for change from from Auditor Suzanne Bump.

Bump's auditors examined the period between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2018, and reported Wednesday that the Department of Public Health Division of Health Care Facility Licensure and Certification "did not prioritize and conduct investigations of cases of mistreatment within required timeframes, which could result in prolonged physical and financial harm to residents."

Auditors reviewed 200 cases and determined 142 were not prioritized for onsite investigation within the required timeframe of two working days, according to Bump's office. There were 148 cases that were not investigated within 10 working days, as required, and the DPH took an average of 41 working days to begin onsite investigations of those cases.

Other findings, per Bump's office: "DPH did not perform all required onsite surveys, did not refer some cases to the Attorney General’s Office as required, and did not have adequate case tracking and monitoring procedures in place."

Auditors say DPH "cited numerous backlog issues for case intake due to a lack of resources and understaffing." The agency said no backlog of intake cases existed as of December 2018.

~ Michael P. Norton/SHNS

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