• Suspect nursing home abuse or neglect?
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red-cross-29930_1280We often hear news about instances of nursing home abuse and neglect in which an elderly patient dies after being taken to a hospital after it is much too late. Particularly in cases of elder neglect, a patient may require care at a hospital. However, if a facility is understaffed and does not call for an ambulance in time, an elderly patient may not receive the care he or she ultimately needs. What if those patients could be rushed to a geriatric emergency department equipped to handle specific senior medical issues, including those related to elder neglect? According to a recent article in The San Diego Union-Tribune, a geriatric ER will soon be coming to UCSD and will provide specialized care to elderly residents in Southern California.

Complex Medical Needs Among the Elderly

When and where will the new geriatric emergency unit appear? It is currently in the planning stages, but the ER will become part of the Thornton Hospital at UC San Diego through an $11.8 million grant provided by the Gary and Mary West Foundation. According to the article, this emergency department “will be the first in the region to focus solely on seniors,” which is an important fact given that more Californians are reaching old age. The “complex medical needs” of the elderly, even when abuse or neglect is not a factor, “are expected to strain available resources as the baby boom generation reaches retirement age.”

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handsOne of the largest nursing homes in Stockton, CA is facing numerous allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect, according to a recent article from Recordnet.com. Reports from patients and their families allege lack of privacy, physical abuse, and serious neglect at Wagner Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. What else do you need to know about these allegations? Can they help families to understand the importance of researching a nursing home or assisted-living facility before allowing an elderly loved one to become a resident at a facility without the best patient ratings?

Serious Citations at Wagner Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Based on data provided by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), Wagner “has been issued the greatest number of serious citations going back to 2010 . . . of any skilled nursing home in Stockton.” Over the last six years, it has received six serious citations. Why were those citations issued? According to the article, the following represent some of the most serious fines levied against Wagner Heights:

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file3451272140532We often discuss cases of nursing home abuse and neglect in San Diego, and in facilities throughout the state of California. But when we talk about filing an elder abuse or neglect lawsuit, what exactly do we mean? In other words, what elements must be present in order to have a valid elder neglect claim? To better understand how suspicions of nursing home abuse or neglect can result in a lawsuit, we should take a closer look at both the signs of neglect, as well as the elements of the laws that prohibit it.

Recognizing Signs of Elder Neglect

Before we look at the specific elements of neglect and abuse outlined by the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, we should take a look at the signs and symptoms of neglect and physical abuse. A fact sheet from the Administration on Aging (AoA) lists the following as signs and symptoms of elder neglect:

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file0001370155977According to a pamphlet from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), one of the most prominent “red flags” of nursing home neglect is the presence of untreated pressure ulcers, which are also known as “bedsores.” According to a news release from the University of California, Berkeley, engineers at the university are working to develop a type of bandage technology that actually might make the presence of bedsores known to a patient and/or her family before they become visible to healthcare professionals.

While we want to take steps to prevent nursing home abuse from happening in the first place, being able to quickly spot the signs of neglect might be able to help California seniors in these facilities to avoid severe and even life-threatening injuries. What should we learn about the developing bandage technology?

“Smart Bandages” Can Detect Tissue Damage Caused by Bedsores

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Many of us know that the population of seniors in California is growing, and that it will continue to expand over the next couple of decades. According to statistics from the Administration on Aging (AoA), Americans aged 65 and older made up a little over 14% of the population in 2013 (or around 44.7 million people). That number is expected to grow to nearly 22% of the population by the year 2040, and it will more than double—to around 98 million people—by the year 2060. What do these numbers mean for the current population of residents in California’s nursing homes and assisted-living facilities? According to a recent article in The Sacramento Bee, “the number of under-65 nursing home residents has surged 40% in a decade,” and it may be producing a “dangerous mix” at facilities.

When nursing homes serve clients in very different age groups, what problems can arise? Do these issues rise to the level of nursing home abuse or neglect?

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apartment buildingWhen we read news stories or hear anecdotes about elder abuse and neglect in San Diego, we often thinking about harms that occur in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs). In other words, we consider the risks our elderly loved one face in facilities that are required to be licensed by the state of California. When injuries do occur at these regulated places, we should consider the ways in which the California Department of Public Health might be responsible.

But what happens when an older adult sustains elder abuse injuries at a boarding home—a type of residence that does not have to be licensed or certified by the state? A recent article in the San Jose Mercury News discussed the rising number of boarding homes for seniors in California and the ways in which these residences could be the most dangerous of all.

Initial Financial Benefits of Boarding Homes

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DSCN3343Over the last couple of years, the quality of care in California nursing homes and assisted-living facilities—in effect, the salient instances of nursing home abuse—has received national attention. Back in 2013, a special report from U-T San Diego discussed the “Deadly Neglect” happening at facilities across the state. That report highlighted the need for elder safety advocates, local and national agencies, and state and federal lawmakers to take steps to ensure that the very vulnerable population of elder residents across the country begins receiving proper care. But have legislators done enough? Are California nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) taking steps to change the harmful practices that resulted in elder abuse and neglect?

According to a recent report in California Newswire, newly proposed legislation in our state suggests that, when it comes to nursing home quality in California, facilities continue to fall short. The bill (AB 2079) aims to improve patient safety at facilities throughout the state and to protect California taxpayers.

California Legislators Aim to Improve Patient Safety

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xDKN9HN0When California seniors are evicted from their homes, particularly in regions of the state with ever-increasing rent costs, can those evictions rise to the level of elder abuse? That question has been posed recently in a number of cases in which older adults were evicted from their homes and died shortly thereafter, according to a recent article in the San Francisco Examiner. If a senior dies from the stress of an eviction, can his or her survivors file an elder abuse lawsuit?

How Can Evictions and Gentrification Harm Older Adults?

According to the article, costs of living in various California cities have skyrocketed recently, and it is becoming more and more difficult for seniors to be able to live comfortably in their homes. In large part, commentators cite gentrification as the reason for the rise in living costs in the Bay Area and other parts of California. However, gentrification and growing costs of living become much more serious when they result in the eviction of a senior citizen who cannot afford another place to live. As the article points out, the link among gentrification, eviction, and elder abuse became national news when a 97-year-old woman died earlier this month after being evicted from her home.

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money walletWhen patients allege that a nursing home is responsible for injuries caused by elder abuse and neglect, what can they expect to receive in damages if they settle or win a case? According to a recent article in The Press Democrat, a “high-end Santa Rosa nursing home has agreed to pay $1 million to settle a wrongful death and elder abuse lawsuit alleging it allowed a patient to die from complications of a bedsore.” The settlement goes to show that nursing home abuse can happen at any level of facility—even at the most seemingly posh facilities—and elder abuse claims can result in substantial settlements.

To better understand the allegations, we should take a closer look at the case. In the meantime, if you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety in a California facility, you should speak with an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse attorney to learn more about filing a claim for compensation.

Brookdale Fountaingrove Nursing Home Agrees to Million Dollar Payout

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file3451272140532If you live in a nursing home, do you have the same rights as a tenant who rents a home from a landlord? According to a recent report from NPR, numerous nursing home residents who live the facility for a temporary inpatient hospital visit return to the nursing home only to learn that they have been evicted. As the article makes clear, this pattern results each year in thousands of nursing home residents finding themselves without a place to live, and that often leads to less-than-ideal situations that can involve elder abuse. Currently, federal law protects nursing home residents from these kinds of evictions, but as the article underscores, “those rules are rarely enforced by the states.” As such, California nursing home residents have decided to file claims against the state of California.

Plaintiffs File Claims Over Nursing Home Evictions

According to the NPR report, when nursing home residents cannot return to their rooms at the nursing facility, they are left with very expensive hospital bills and often the inability to receive the specific kind of care provided in a nursing home. For instance, one plaintiff who was evicted from his nursing home is currently living in his hospital room at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento. At the end of May 2015, his nursing home sent him to the hospital to receive treatment for pneumonia. However, once the pneumonia had been treated, the nursing home would not readmit him. As such, he has been living at the hospital for about 260 days now. The financial costs are very high: Medicaid is paying “about 2.5 times what his nursing home cost.”