December 28, 2017

The state Ombudsman’s Office received 1154 complaints about nursing home discharges in 2015. At the same time, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, OSHPD, reported there were 375 thousand people discharged from skilled nursing facilities in California.

In other words, inappropriate discharges may be taking place at an annual rate of .03 percent in California.

While this may be statistically insignificant, we remain concerned about any inappropriate discharges from skilled nursing facilities.   While rare, facilities that conduct these activities are rightly subject to fines and penalties. 

The state Ombudsman acts as a patient advocate and does not issue citations or fines. It is important to understand that it is not known how many complaints to the Ombudsman were true or substantiated by state regulators who later issued a fine.  In addition, complaints vary.  For example, a resident may complain because they were told they would be discharged Thursday, but instead were discharged Wednesday.  Perhaps their discharge plan was incomplete or maybe a procedure was not followed.

It’s also important to remember nursing home residents reflect society. More than 70 percent of nursing home residents have health care coverage through Medi-Cal or managed care. They come to facilities mostly from hospitals, but also from home, assisted living, locked Alzheimer’s units and jails.  A small percentage of nursing home residents live in homeless shelters or hotels.  They may request that they go back “home,” or to their local shelter or hotel upon discharge.  We must honor their choices as long as their needs are met.

Read the report here