In continuing to address the issues of reported healthcare neglect in the intermediate care facility for those with intellectual disabilities and how investigations are handled within the Department of Social and Health Services, I have had very similar observations of a flawed system that is reported by experts in the report Too Little Too Late: A Call to End Tolerance of Abuse and Neglect.
The above report does not address complaints and investigations of allegations from those living in the institutions but the observations reported by the expert consultants are concerns that I have expressed regarding lack of accountability in the system which is supposedly there to protect our most vulnerable. I realize it is not my imagination but reality that the system is broken.
“My review of the Washington DSHS Quality Assurance system, specifically mortality review, found a flawed system that does not “meet and maintain high quality standards” and is not an effective safeguard to protect health and welfare. Within the 6 months studied-June 1- December 31, 2012- there was a number of preventable waiver participant deaths. In addition to the concerns I have about these avoidable deaths, the poor quality of care for other participants, whose death although expected, causes me great concern about the quality of health care coordination and provider ability to meet the health and welfare needs of Washington waiver participants.”
Sue A. Gant, Ph.D. Date: August 6, 2012
“Another unusual feature of the RCS investigation summaries is that they often did not reference findings pertinent to the allegations of abuse, neglect, mistreatment, and exploitation referenced in the initial complaint(s). In other cases, investigation summaries would reference these allegations and findings regarding their merit, but then conclude that the no provider practice deficiency was identified.”
“Many of the problems could be traced back to the tardiness of the investigations, but others (as also noted in my initial report) reflected the investigators’ failure to address significant issues, including allegations of abuse and neglect. In addition, as noted in my initial report, these investigations continued to manifest a trend of very “conservative” determinations of no citations for “failed provider practice,” even in instances when investigation documents explicitly referenced failed practices.
In addition, DSHS’ routine “planned ignoring” of allegations of employee abuse and neglect in its investigations is wholly non-compliant with basic expectations of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as its own Quality Management Strategy”
Nancy K. Ray, Ed.D. President NKR & Associates, Inc
As a nurse who has worked in a Joint Commission Accredited Healthcare Institution for over 30 years, I understand the purpose of nursing policies and protocols. They are not just a useless exercise – they are there for a reason – TO ENSURE PATIENT SAFETY – and they accomplish this through various routes.
he prerequisite training credentials of their investigators, are not addressed at all by DSHS’ policies. Other procedures prescribed by the policies are routinely not complied with, either because resources to ensure their implementation are not available or supervisory oversight by DSHS is so lax that noncompliance by investigators and their supervisors has become commonplace.
When an investigation is returned “Allegations unfounded” together with the nursing policy that was clearly violated in many areas, questions of integrity, accountability, knowledge of the subject matter, and many other questions arise. There is certainly not “closure” to the problem as the agency sweeps it under the carpet with the rest of the ignored problems they wish away.
Resident health and safety is at risk and will continue to be so until some of these problems are addressed and a plan of correction put in place and evaluated for success.
There is a solution to the problems that I am referring to. Ensure The Department of Health has oversight and licenses the healthcare clinics housed on the campuses of the residential habilitation centers. DOH is the state agency which specializes in healthcare and should be the agency which provides oversight of healthcare – not the Department of Social and Health Services.