California state law requires inspectors to investigate complaints of neglect or maltreatment within 10 working days. However, during the first six months of 2006, fewer than half of complaints were investigated within that time. These frequent delays pose a severe threat to residents for many reasons. For example, in cases of nursing home abuse, harm may be imminent to residents.
In October, the watchdog group California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform sued the California Department of Health Services on behalf of victims’ families for the agency’s failure to promptly inspect nursing home complaints. An order spelling out the conditions under which the department must start obeying the law is expected soon.