Minnesota Health Department officials have received such a massive influx of complaints about nursing homes in the state in recent years that they said they simply cannot investigate all of them.
Less than 500 consumer complaints and 3,100 self-reported issues by providers were reported to the Minnesota Office of Health Facility Complaints in 2010. That number jumped to 3,500 consumer complaints and 28,000 provider issues last year, a trend Assistant Health Department Commissioner Gil Acevedo reportedly told a state senate committee was “not acceptable. The volume of complaints that are coming in pretty much overwhelms our staff.”
Complaints and issues received are prioritized with the most serious ones moved to the top of the list. But the department’s lack of resources to handle the volume of complaints means that there is a good chance the lesser complaints and issues will go uninvestigated.
“Thousands of complaints are not investigated so maltreatment continues, and less severe issues may escalate to more serious harm,” the Office of Health Facility Complaints said in a budget request. The agency noted that even for complaints followed up with an on-site visit, the investigation process can be lengthy.
Among the complaints not investigated by the department last year included more than 4,000 falls, 2,000 reports of abuse by staff, and 3,000 unexplained injuries.