Auditors criticize State Health Division’s inspection process
The State Health Division was criticized by auditors Thursday in a report charging it failed to meet statutory requirements for inspecting food establishments, school kitchens and health care facilities and failed in many cases to follow up on those inspections to make sure problems were corrected.
In 2008, auditor Lee Pierson told lawmakers 38 percent of food establishments tested weren’t inspected as required. In addition, 56 percent of health care facilities weren’t inspected timely.
“In some cases, inspections were several years overdue,” Pierson told the legislative Audit Subcommittee.
The division is responsible for inspecting food establishments such as restaurants, bars, grocery and convenience stores, ice cream parlors and cafeterias in all counties except Clark, Washoe and Carson City.
In the sample of 100 establishments, the audit says 24 had not been inspected for at least three years.
The division is required to inspect school kitchens, including college and university kitchens, at least twice each school year. A third of the 75 kitchens sampled by auditors had no inspections in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Health care facilities such as hospitals, surgical centers, skilled nursing homes and group homes failed to get timely inspections in 56 percent of the centers audited.
The division also was deficient in inspecting X-ray machines and other devices which use radioactive isotopes., being late on statutory required inspections 64 percent of the time.
Administrator Richard Whitley, who took over the Health Division just before the Hepatitis C issue was discovered in Las Vegas, said much has changed since the auditors went through the division’s records in 2008. He said many of those issues were addressed following the discovery that thousands of people had potentially been exposed to Hepatitis C by unsanitary practices in a Las Vegas clinic.
In addition, he said food inspections have now been put on an electronic system which will allow supervisors to keep tabs on inspectors and make sure those inspections get done.
He promised to fix all the remaining issues raised in the audit saying, “if we don’t do our job, we put the public at risk.”
Auditors accepted the report, asking Whitley to return with a progress report in six months.