L.A. County Health Officials Accused of Falsifying Nursing Home Records
Los Angeles County health officials are in the hot seat once again amid allegations that they falsified nursing home complaint records in order to meet state deadlines.
Two employees of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department have accused department officials of changing the dates they received various nursing home complaints. The falsifications, they say, were done in order to comply with state deadlines for launching nursing home investigations. Under California law, investigations must commence within 10 days after receiving the complaint. If the complaint involves imminent threat of death or serious harm, officials have 24 hours.
In a letter sent to county, state, and federal officials last month, Inspector Kimberly Nguyen cited 11 incidents in which dates were fabricated in order to appear to be in compliance with the deadlines. Sharon Geraneo, an assistant supervisor within the department, made similar allegations in a separate Aug. 6 email.
According to Nguyen, some of the complaint dates were off by as much as 79 days.
“In my belief, falsification is a serious matter and unlawful and our department should know better to not manipulate paperwork to mislead others and the public,” Nguyen wrote.
Department officials have said they are investigating the matter and insist they have “zero tolerance for intentional fabrication.” They said they have already identified one data entry error that may have affected some 35 cases.
The latest allegations come on the heels of mounting criticism over a lack of oversight and accusations of outright corruption within the department. In a September audit, the county Auditor-Controller’s Office found numerous problems within the agency, including improper closure of investigations and failure to follow state guidelines when it came to prioritizing reports. These problems, according to the review, contributed to a crippling backlog of nursing home complaints.
Read more about the latest allegations against the department here.