In 2009, the state Department of Public Health quietly ordered its investigators to dismiss nearly 1,000 pending cases of abuse and theft – often with a single phone call from Sacramento headquarters. The closing of cases en masse came after officials determined their swelling backlog had become a crisis.
Four years later, state investigators are opening and closing investigations into suspected abuse without ever leaving their desks, The Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED have found. In some instances, caregivers who have sexually assaulted or abused patients have retained their licenses and moved to other facilities.
An estimated 160,000 nursing assistants and in-home health aides are employed throughout California. These workers – all regulated by the Department of Public Health – are certified to work in hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities, developmental centers and private homes.
Since the mass dismissal of cases in 2009, the overwhelming majority of allegations of abuse and misconduct have been closed without action. The state also has dramatically reduced the number of license revocations for aides suspected of abuse and misconduct.
Credit: Adithya Sambamurthy/The Center for Investigative Reporting
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Quick Dismissal of Caregiver Abuse Cases Puts Calif. Patients at Risk