Lawsuit Seeks To Force Timely Investigation of Elder Abuse Complaints

Posted on October 30, 2013

The California Department of Health has been in the spotlight recently for the way it handles reports of elder abuse in care centers throughout the state.  Some have suggested that complaints about abuse are prompting slow-moving investigations that don’t adequately address the problem, and now, a lawsuit has been filed against the department in order to change that.

The Foundation Aiding the Elderly, the organization responsible for bringing the lawsuit against the state, says that the Department of Health is endangering patients by taking months and, in some cases, even years to carry out inquiries into reports of suspected abuse.  By suing, the hope is that the courts will force the agency to meet certain deadlines that can better assure safety.

When investigations aren’t carried out quickly, nursing home residents can be further endangered.  Not only may abuse be allowed to continue, but faded memory and lost evidence mean that a delayed investigation can make it harder to prove a culprit’s wrongdoing.

The agency is supposed to be on site investigating any complaint filed within ten days, and that timeline is reduced to one day if the person’s life is in danger or otherwise put at grave risk.  However, the lawsuit contends that only 69% of such serious cases are investigated within ten days, a shocking statistic that, if true, means that numerous seniors are being put in danger.

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