Filing a Complaint with the State Board of Health

In  previous post, I wrote about how the Assisted Living Facility ran out of dad’s blood pressure medications.  I was upset when I found out he was without his medications and followed up immediately to remedy the situation.  Because this was the second time this facility had allowed dad to go without his blood pressure medications, I told the Administrator that I would be filing a complaint with the State Board of Health.  I think this comment helped get them moving very fast this time to obtain dad’s medications.  However, even after the situation was resolved, I felt I had to follow through and not let this end up as an empty threat.

I finally filed my complaint with the NY health department yesterday.  I had called the ombuds person about 2 weeks ago but they had never called back.  I called again yesterday and just spoke directly with the managers of the program and then got referred to the new person who has the same number as the former ombuds person.  I left the new ombuds person a phone message and sent her an email.

She got back to me pretty quickly and was very helpful.  She had referred my original phone call to the local volunteer ombuds person for that ALF and that person had not yet followed up with me.   The new county ombuds took full responsibility and we talked for awhile.  She felt I should file a complaint with the state, especially since the same situation happened a year ago. She gave me the phone number to call at the state level.

I called the State Long Term Care Complaint Hotline using the number the ombuds person gave me.  The call was answered immediately by a human (always a nice touch).

I explained the situation and the state employee felt it warranted a formal complaint.  It took 40 minutes all together for that conversation.  As I explained the situation about the delayed shipment from Medco, the fact that it was a very similar situation as last year, I realized it was very complicated for her to follow.

It took her awhile to understand that Medco/Express Scripts was a mail order pharmacy as well as the insurer and the only pharmacy that dad can get his medications from under his (employer-provided) insurance.  He can get short-term medications like antibiotics locally, but anything that he takes for more than 90 days must come from this mail order pharmacy or his insurance won’t pay for it.

I was told they would send me a letter within a week.  The state will also have 90 days to contact the Assisted Living Facility (ALF) and do an on-site audit there.  I’m sure that will make me very unpopular with the ALF, but I felt I had to put the whole situation “on the record” in order to protect the other residents there as well as dad.

I asked what the state requirements were for an ALF.  She said in order to give medications; a staff member is only required to have 40 hours of training to become a CNA, not to be a nurse.  And to give medications, 16 of those hours must be in medication management.  She also said though that the ALF is required to follow doctor’s orders.

For instance, they could refuse to take dad’s blood pressure as I had refused last year because there were no orders to do so.  Once I got the doctor to order that they take his blood pressure every day for 2 weeks, then they had to follow that order.  Similarly, just giving him his daily medications is a doctor’s order.  They have no leeway on that.  They must give his medications as ordered.  It doesn’t hold water to blame the mail order pharmacy for not sending the medications.  No matter what, they have to do whatever it takes to get him his medications as ordered.

That was exactly what I expected.  Shifting the blame does not work.  Yes, Medco/Express Scripts was late in sending the medications.  But that is a separate issue.  The ALF has to obtain the medications (as they did in the end by having his doctor call it in to a local pharmacy).  They should have done that BEFORE he was totally out of his medication.

I felt very relieved when I finally got done with that conversation.  The whole situation has been hanging over me for about 2 weeks since I learned dad ran out of medications.  I just wanted to be done with it.  Of course, right after that, I felt a bit bad for the ALF Administrator, who I like, but she is ultimately responsible for what the nurse and staff do or don’t do.

I know retaliation is illegal and I hope I don’t see any sign of that.  It is a small place and everyone knows me and dad.  Most of them love dad and that helps.  I just want to see them all do their jobs!


About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
This entry was posted in Assisted Living Facility, Caregiving, Elder Care, Eldercare, Medication Management and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Filing a Complaint with the State Board of Health

  1. Terry says:

    I am proud of you for standing up for your Dad and other patients who may be going through similar issues

  2. boomer98053 says:

    I am so glad that you contacted the appropriate people and that you finally heard back from the LTC Ombudsman program; how sad, however, that their response was so long in coming. You have done the right thing by reporting this incident. As you said, the bottom line is that the facility staff must follow doctor’s orders; not assuring that they had sufficient supply of his BP medicine on hand is a failure to deliver appropriate services. You and I know when our medication is running low and we contact the responsible vendor to get a refill; this is a pretty standard and easy task to complete.

    I sincerely believe that you registering this complaint will not only benefit your father, but all the other residents who have experienced the same thing – trust me, it’s never just a one-time occurrence. I always assume in my work that if one person complains about services, there are numerous others with the same complaint who had yet to act on it. You are to be commended for doing what you did. Bravo!!!!

  3. Thanks Irene and Terry,

    I think the thing that made me follow through was the fact that the staff at the ALF kept insisting that it was ” not their fault” because I should be blaming Medco/Express Scripts. I think the adult thing to do is to accept responsibility. Now they should realize there are others at a higher level who also think they must take full responibility for the residents in their care.

  4. jlsm697 says:

    Good job! Even on my directors end, this would have been solved quicker by calling it in. You need to think out side of the box, like I have to and/or state you made an error. It’s hard for me being on both ends but it makes me be a better nurse and dtr. You are a good daughter!!

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