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Texas Department of Aging Vows to Step Up Efforts in Investigating Nursing Home Complaints

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At least one state is taking steps to create teams that would be responsible for scrutinizing nursing home complaints. Faced with alarming delays in investigating current nursing home complaints, the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services has vowed to put together teams to speed up the state’s response time, a plan which will begin with 35 new hires in the next month.

According to Texas state statistics, investigators failed to promptly respond to approximately 67% of nursing home complaints in fiscal year 2009. Similarly, investigators failed to respond to approximately 61% in fiscal year 2008 and approximately 58% in fiscal year 2007. Thus, each year the failure to investigate nursing home complaints has steadily risen.

In nursing home complaints, mental, physical or psychosocial harm is possible and state investigators are required to respond within 14 days. The new commissioner of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services recently stated that he wanted to take immediate and drastic steps to address the backlog of uninvestigated complaints. For example, this month the department plans a two-week “blitz” of investigations of 1,550 complaints at more than 300 Texas facilities.