November 3rd, 2010
The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into reports of nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect in Northern California nursing homes. A statement about the probe says DOJ investigators will look at inappropriate use of psychiatric medications and poor care resulting in injury or illness. Also under investigation are nursing homes that release sick patients or block admission to patients returning from a hospital.
The federal health reform law signed by President Obama in March includes the Elder Justice Act and is at least partly responsible for the investigation. The Elder Justice Act calls for cooperation between the U.S. attorney general’s office and other government agencies to prevent elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Local elder care ombudsman offices were asked by the DOJ to compile a report regarding quality-of-care complaints. The report was then submitted to prosecutors.
DOJ spokesman Jack Gillund said the investigation is ongoing and the report has therefore not been made public. Gillund said the public can still submit complaints about their own experiences to a local ombudsman office or to the California Department of Public Health.