Two Los Angeles County Public Health Department employees allege that the department falsified the dates it received nursing home complaints in order to meet state deadlines for launching investigations, Kaiser Health News reports.
Under state law, investigations must be launched within 10 days of receiving a nursing home complaint -- or within 24 hours if the complaint involves the threat of death or serious harm.
The California Public Health Department requires inspectors to enter dates based on when the complaint was first received by phone, fax, email or letter.
Details of Falsified Records
In a letter sent last month to county, state and federal officials, Inspector Kimberly Nguyen cited 11 cases in which she found records with falsified dates.
The dates entered were much later -- as much as 79 days --than the dates the allegations actually had been submitted.
The cases involved complaints about:
- Falls; and
- Pressure sores.
According to KHN, Nguyen said she believes the date manipulation was deliberate (Gorman, Kaiser Health News, 11/10).
Nguyen said her supervisor, Adewole Adegoke, has been aware of the record falsification since July but has made no effort to stop the practice (Nguyen Letter, 10/7). She wrote, "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."
Meanwhile, Sharon Geraneo, an assistant supervisor at the department, sent a separate email in August about the department allegedly falsifying records.
Response to Allegations
The county Department of Public Health said it has "zero tolerance for intentional document falsification" and is not aware of any deliberate falsification.
Officials said that they had identified a data entry error by one individual that affected 35 cases but that "swift and appropriate corrective actions" were taken.
The California Department of Public Health said it is investigating the allegations (Kaiser Health News, 11/10).