• Suspect nursing home abuse or neglect?
  • KNOW THE SIGNS
  • KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
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Over the past year, elderly California residents and their family members have been made all too aware that, if they file elder abuse complaints, the Department of Public Health isn’t likely to respond in a timely manner. However, according to a recent article in California Healthline, testimony given in a joint legislative hearing emphasized that “progress has been made in clearing a huge backlog of nursing home complaints, and steps have been taken to ensure it won’t happen again.”

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Department of Public Health Discusses Progress

Last October, a report from a state auditor revealed that the California Department of Public Health had a backlog of about 11,000 complaints concerning elder abuse in nursing homes and related facilities. According to Elaine Howle, the California state auditor, “many of them were urgent and serious complaints, and others were designated as high priority.” Of those complaints, Howle indicated that around 40 percent of those in the backlog fell into the category of “immediate or non-immediate jeopardy designations.”

As a quick reminder, California law requires the Department to initiate action within 24 hours when it comes to immediate jeopardy cases. In those deemed non-immediate jeopardy, the Department must initiate action within 10 days. With regard to the backlog of complaints and the time taken to launch an investigation, Howle emphasized that the Department had a “low of 14 days but a high of 1,000 days.” The auditor made numerous recommendations to the Department to speed up its investigations into complaints of urgent and serious nursing home abuse situations.

Based on Howle’s recommendations, Jean Iacino, the director of the Center for Health Care Quality, reported that the Department of Public Health has “taken significant steps to address the concerns.” Indeed, she underlined, “we have had substantial increases in staffing to meet the requirements for handling complaints.”

Time Frame Remains Too Long

The Department did adopt most of the recommendations in Howle’s report. At the same time, however, the Department has yet to enact a “provision that set a timeframe for completion of addressing the complaints.” Iacino made clear at the joint legislative hearing that “more progress needs to be made before attaching a time element to the changes.”

How has the Department taken steps to address the backlog and to work toward timely investigations of complaints concerning nursing home abuse and neglect? Iacino emphasized the following steps taken by the Department over the last six months:

  • Staffing additional employees to investigate complaints in a speedier fashion;
  • Developing a work plan;
  • Convening public stakeholder meeting to address the problem;
  • Changing oversight and supervision methods;
  • Expanding new technologies in the field;
  • Modifying data collection methods; and
  • Increasing recruiting and training efforts.

Iacino’s testimony indicated that all new complaints, since the state auditor’s report, have been completed in 90 days or fewer, and 96 percent of the immediate jeopardy cases are in compliance with the requirement for action within 24 hours.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious problem in California and throughout the country. What should you do if you’re concerned that your elderly loved one has suffered injuries as a result of elder abuse? Contact a dedicated San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case.

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Pilot Program for Elder Abuse Victims

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How, exactly, do elder abuse investigations work? After national news that Harper Lee, the famous author of To Kill A Mockingbird, might have been the victim of elder abuse, an article in Slate provided an in-depth look into investigations concerning reports of elder abuse and neglect. While each state has its own methods for looking into reports of nursing home abuse and other violations, it’s important for Californians with elderly parents and loved ones to understand the basics of an elder abuse inquiry.

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The Allegedly “Murky Field” of Elder Abuse and Competence

What does elder abuse look like, and how can we be certain when we see it? According to Rosalie Kane, a professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota, “the concept of elder abuse is a murky field.” Kane explained that “sometimes there’s too much branding of older people as incompetent,” and that can complicate conceptions of elder abuse. In other words, Kane believes that investigations into elder abuse allegations often aren’t taken seriously because of suspicions about the victim’s mental capacity.

Dr. Peter Lichtenberg, who serves as director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University, described the “multi-step process” he uses when determining whether an elderly person is competent. He begins, he explains, “with 2-3 hours of cognitive testing to measure things like learning and memory, executive function, problem solving, attention span, language, and spatial awareness.” He then explores the close relationships the elderly person currently has to look for any signs of abuse or exploitation.

Looking for Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect in an Investigation

What are some of the obvious warning signs of physical abuse when it comes to the elderly? According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), physical abuse takes many forms. Some of the most common signs of physical abuse include but are not limited to:

  •      Slap marks;
  •      Pressure marks;
  •      Certain kinds of burns or blisters;
  •      Bruises; and
  •      Broken bones.

In addition to physical abuse, neglect is also a serious problem for elderly Californians in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, as well as those who receive care from family members. Some warnings signs of neglect include but are not limited to:

  •      Unexplained changes in behavior or alertness;
  •      Withdrawal from normal activities; and
  •      Any other unusual behavior.

The NCEA explains that one of the first steps in an elder abuse investigation typically involves adult protective services. Indeed, the NCEA reports that these workers “usually are to first responders to reports of elder abuse and neglect.” In California, the Ombudsman’s Office, administered through the California Department of Aging (CDA), “has jurisdiction for investigating reports of abuse that occur at nursing homes, board and care homes, residential facilities for the elderly, or long-term care facilities.”

Depending on the specific facts involved in the case, law enforcement officials also may be alerted. To be sure, the California Department of Social Services emphasizes that the Ombudsman’s office has “the responsibility to cross-report allegations of abuse to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, public agencies, and licensing entities having jurisdiction over these cases.”

Are you concerned about an elderly loved one’s safety in a nursing home or assisted-living facility in California? Elder abuse and neglect may not always be obvious, and it’s important to look for signs. If you do suspect that someone you loved has been the victim of nursing home abuse, you should contact an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse attorney to discuss your case. You may be able to help your loved one to seek compensation.

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When older adults become victims of elder abuse in their own homes, do they have any options to escape the violence? According to a recent article in the Orange County Register, more elderly adults are reporting that they’ve been the victims of physical abuse in Southern California, and the Orange County Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Registry received more than 9,000 such reports last year alone.16570337968_57d62c7708

Elder Abuse on the Rise in Orange County

Over the last 10 years, the Orange County Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Registry has received a 74 percent increase in reports of abuse. Between 2013 and 2014 alone, the reported cases of abuse rose by nearly 14 percent. Of those calls, more than 75 percent involved seniors aged 65 and older. Yet experts suspect that the number is actually much higher. In other words, numerous cases simply go unreported.

Why wouldn’t elderly victims report their abuse? As officials from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department explain, “as with other domestic abuse cases, elderly victims often are afraid to report abusers because they are family members,” and they’re also often “financially dependent on them.” And when elderly victims of abuse do report it, they don’t have a lot of options to escape their abusers. Elder advocates have noted that “shelter options” in Orange County and elsewhere in California “are scarce for those over 65 who live in dangerous situations.”

Indeed, law enforcement agencies emphasize that elder abuse perpetrators frequently are family members. Even when elderly Californians do report abuse and their abusers must face the criminal consequences of their actions, the “victims are left without caregivers and safe living conditions.”

Elder Shelter Network and Pilot Program

It’s simply unacceptable for thousands of older adults in Southern California to be forced to remain in the residence of an abuser because they don’t have another place to go. Advocates in the area agree, and on March 1st of this year, a committee that includes various agencies in Orange County launched a pilot program known as the “Elder Shelter network.”

The Elder Shelter network is, according to the article, “the first of its kind in California.” It reaches out to long-term care agencies, including the Silverado group and the be.group to “reserve beds in their housing facilities for older victims who need to be moved.” The be.group, based on information contained in the nonprofit’s website, is one of the largest providers of senior living communities in California. It offers licensed communities to elderly residents throughout Southern California.

In addition to donating a specific number of beds for elders who have been the victims of abuse, the agencies involved in the pilot program will also provide “trained staff to care for those individuals.”

Whether it’s abuse at the hands of a family member or a staff member at an assisted-living facility, elderly Californians deserve to be treated fairly and with respect. Nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious problem in California, and it’s important to be vigilant. If you are concerned that an elderly loved one has been physically or emotionally abused, it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer.

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Back in 2013, a number of elderly residents in a Castro Valley facility were abandoned, “left without proper staffing or care for two days,” according to a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News. Now, the owner and administrator from the facility, Valley Springs Manor, “have been charged with felony elder abuse and could face up to 17 years in prison if convicted.”

Indictment for Felony Elder Abuse

Who can be held liable for the serious allegations concerning nursing home abuse in Castro Valley? Based on an announcement from California Attorney General Kamala Harris, both the owner of Valley Springs Manor, Herminigilda Manuel, as well as a top administrator, Edgar Babael, have been indicted on 14 felony counts of elder abuse. Manuel was arrested by agents from the Department of Homeland Security at San Francisco International Airport, and a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Babel.

California authorities allege that Manuel and Babel “left residents in the care of only a janitor and a cook for several days after the state abruptly shut down the facility in October 2013.” The Valley Spring case, as well as other involving nursing home abuse and neglect, have resulted in a much-needed crackdown from the California Department of Social Services. To be sure, based on information about the elder abuse incident in Castro Valley, “legislators have pushed the department to improve not only its procedures for orderly closure of facilities, but also its maintenance of records showing individual facilities’ inspection and violation histories.”

After officials ordered the closure of Valley Springs Manor, no local authorities were contacted “to assist residents with finding new homes.” As such, numerous residents were abandoned at the facility without any “medical personnel to care for them, feed them, or provide them with medications.”

The only two staff members that remained at the facility—a janitor and a cook—reportedly “struggled to provide basic care” for those living at the facility. When asked about the recent indictment, both the janitor, Miguel Alvarez, and the cook, Maurice Rowland, emphasized that they were glad the facility owner and administrator would be held legally accountable for abandoning the elderly residents.

Efforts to Hold Owner and Administrator Liable

What do the charges against Manuel and Babael specifically entail? According to the article, they have been accused of “knowingly and willingly inflicted unjustifiable pain and mental suffering” on the residents of Valley Springs Manor when they abandoned them in October 2013.

Under the California Penal Code section 368(b)(1)(2)(3), Manuel and Babael could face the following penalties for felony elder abuse, including jail time:

  •      One year in county jail and $6,000 fine, or
  •      State prison for two, three, or four years.

In cases where a victim “suffers great bodily injury,” the perpetrator can face an additional 3 to 5 years in state prison. Those prison terms increase in the event of the death of the victim.

Nursing home neglect is a serious issue, and is can result in severe and fatal injuries to elderly residents. If you have concerns about a loved one’s safety or care in a California nursing home, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego elder abuse attorney.

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According to a recent report from CBS Sacramento, a California court made clear that “health officials may no longer hide from public view all the relevant details about citations issued to hospitals and nursing homes.” To be sure, the California Supreme court unanimously decided that “only the names of patients may be omitted when the California Department of Public health releases records describing the sanctions it imposed on long-term care facilities for providing improper care or endangering clients.”

Will this decision help to address issues of nursing home abuse and elder neglect across the state?

Background of the Center for Investigative Reporting Case

law-hammerThe recent case originated with the Center for Investigative Reporting after one of the organization’s investigators—who had been looking into patient abuse allegations at various state-run facilities—asked to take a look at the facilities’ citations as part of the California Public Records Act. While the California Department Health complied with the request in some form, it provided very little information that could be of use to someone who wants to determine in depth the reasons for a facility’s citation history.

To be sure, the investigator received “four years’ worth of heavily excised documents that listed only licensing information, the regulation violated, and a vague reference to the patient rights at issue.” According to one of the attorneys representing the Center for Investigative Report, the documents “were completely redacted.” He emphasized that, given the limited information contained within those redacted documents, “you wouldn’t have any understanding of the facts that led to the issuance of the citation.”

Why weren’t state health officials providing all of the essential information? Turning to a decades-old law, the department argued that redacting the documents was necessary to “protect patient confidentiality,” and an appeals court tended to agree. However, the Supreme Court held that “citations are public records from which only patient names need to be withheld.”

Citations are Public Records

When the Supreme Court determined that citations are public records and thus only require the omission of patient names for privacy purposes, it emphasized that Californians should be able to know the background of nursing home citations at facilities across the state.

As Justice Goodwin Liu noted in the decision, the lawmakers behind the Long Term Care Act—the law on which the Supreme Court relied in making its decision—were “aware of the privacy concerns presented by public disclosure.” At the same time, the Long Term Care Act “expressly mandates that every writing DPH generates . . . is a matter of public record subject only to the redaction of the names of the individuals involved.”

While this case focused primarily on facilities that treat “mentally ill and developmentally disabled individuals,” it’s likely to have reverberations in the elder care community. Given recent concerns about elder abuse violations at many nursing homes and assisted-living facilities throughout California, the state Supreme Court’s decision may make it easier for families to choose a safe facilities for their loved ones.

When you’re thinking about helping a loved one transition into a nursing home or assisted-living facility, it’s important to make sure that the facility has a history that’s free from allegations of nursing home abuse or neglect. If you do suspect that your elderly parent has been the victim of elder abuse, you should speak with an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible.

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When most of us think about elder abuse or neglect, we tend to imagine horror stories about staff members getting into physical altercations with residents or failing to take care of patients in need. However, sexual assault can happen at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, too. According to a recent article from the Marin Independent Journal, a female Greenbrae nursing home resident sued the facility for elder abuse after contending that she was sexually assaulted during her residency. Now, authorities with the California Department of Public Health are investigating the incident.

Nursing home abuse can take many forms, including sexual abuse. If you have concerns that your elderly loved one has been the target of elder abuse or neglect, you should seek advice from an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer.

Nursing-Home-Female-PatientDetails of the Greenbrae Sexual Assault

A Novato woman, who had been a resident of Kindred Nursing and Transitional Care, filed a claim against Kindred Healthcare, Inc. in February of 2014. Based on the information contained in her lawsuit, the resident suffered a sexual assault at the facility, which “was the second sexual assault within a span of eight months.” According to police records, Terence Tumbale, the Director of Kindred Nursing, reported a sexual assault on behalf of the resident to the police in April of 2012.

Back in January of 2013, the resident entered Kindred Nursing to transition from Marin General Hospital, where she had been treated for a neck fracture. Just a month after living at Kindred, the resident alleged that “a man dressed in medical scrubs and wearing a surgical mask came into her room, lifted her out of bed, and took her to another room where he sexually assaulted her.”

According to the lawsuit, the resident’s family members informed Kindred of the assault, but Tumbale “told the reporting nurse that there was no need to inform the police about the sexual assault since the attack occurred over 12 hours ago.” While the Central Marin police weren’t able to substantiate the claim, Sgt. Toby Miller emphasized that “it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

Lawsuit and Investigation

The resident also named Tumbale as a defendant in her lawsuit, alleging that he was guilty of neglect. Tumbale resigned from his position in January of this year, and he wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit. The resident passed away last October at the age of 89. Now, however, the California Department of Public Health has launched an investigation into this facility in Greenbrae.

According to Corey Egel, a spokesperson for the department, the reported sexual assaults were already investigated and closed. The department found “there was insufficient evidence to substantiate either of the claims.” Egel couldn’t comment on the current, ongoing investigation into Kindred Nursing and Transitional Care, but it’s possible that the department is seeking information about sexual assaults at the facility.

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) and the Administration on Aging (AOA) emphasize that sexual abuse is a serious problem facing elderly Americans. Sexual abuse includes “non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an elderly person,” including sexual contact with “any person incapable of giving consent.” If your parent or loved one has suffered injuries from nursing home abuse or neglect, contact an experienced San Diego elder abuse attorney today to discuss your case.

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video_surveillance_lawsMany Californians have loved ones in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. While we want to put our trust in these facilities and to believe that they are treating our elderly parents and relatives properly, many of us worry about the risks of nursing home abuse and neglect. According to a recent article from NBC San Diego, local families want to install cameras in patient bedrooms, “but they are facing a roadblock from the state.”

Documenting Elder Neglect in Southern California

Why wouldn’t the state want to use video cameras in patient rooms to monitor for elder abuse or neglect? According to Joe Balbas, the co-owner of Vista Gardens, “elderly patients in nursing facilities should have the option of having security cameras in their room[s].” Vista Gardens is a residential facility for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Balbas believes that installing cameras in rooms—at the request of patients and their families—could help to prevent serious injuries.

What’s the holdup, then? Under current California law, nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities can only use cameras to “monitor residents in common areas, such as hallways or dining facilities.” Vista Gardens already uses cameras in these areas of the facility, but residents’ families don’t believe they’re sufficient. Balbas thinks that the California Department of Social Services is preventing lawmakers from “giving the green light” to in-room cameras. As Balbas explains, “although [the Department of Social Services] is supposedly going to be working with us, it’s been promises that eventually we will get to it. I know they are busy. We are all busy. This is an important issue.”

But, there’s not time to wait. Does the Department of Social Services simply have a backlog of issues with which it must contend and the issue of in-room cameras is in line for attention, or do some administrators have other concerns? According to Michael Weston, the Deputy Director of Public Affairs at the Department of Social Services, “the client’s right to privacy is a concern for the department.” As Weston pointed out, “we view these as people’s homes, and we want people to have rights in their own home and balancing that between a business and a residence.”

The department has developed certain guidelines that “would allow video cameras in private rooms under specific conditions.” However, these guidelines remain in the proposal stage. Some former employees at the department believe in-room cameras should be optional, particularly when families have concerns about elder abuse and neglect.

“Cameras Don’t Lie:” Objective Evidence of Abuse

Why are California families pushing for in-room cameras? Let’s take a look at one specific case, reported in the NBC San Diego report. In October of 2013, Kathe Murphy, a retired paralegal for the Department of Social Services, put her mother in a retirement community that provided care. However, Murphy soon realized that her mother was suffering from elder neglect.

To be sure, Murphy documented “her mother’s dirty clothes, room, and bathroom” with photographs. She insisted the the facility wasn’t taking proper care of her mother, and that the facility was neglecting its duties. By spring of 2014, Murphy learned that her mother had been “put in bed and not checked on for almost 24 hours.” As a result, Murphy found her “laying there with a dirty diaper with sores on her back for almost 12 hours.” Murphy’s mother died just three weeks later.

If Murphy had been allowed to have an in-room camera in her mother’s room, she might have learned about the neglect much earlier. Indeed, the camera might have been a valuable tool in preventing her mother’s injuries.

Do you have concerns about your elderly loved one’s safety? If you suspect that someone you love has been the victim of nursing home abuse, you should contact an experienced San Diego elder law attorney as soon as possible.

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euthanasia-300x175Many Californians are in favor of legislation that would permit assisted suicide in certain situations, yet some elder advocates worry that such legislation won’t have sufficient safeguards to protect against elder abuse. According to a recent article in the Modesto Bee, the Death with Dignity bill, or assisted-suicide legislation, can have “many unintended consequences” that can negatively impact elderly Californians.

Pressure to Agree to Assisted Suicide

The article in the Modesto Bee provides the viewpoint of a former hospital social worker, whose “primary concern is for individuals who might feel pressured into ending their lives.” While assisted suicide may allow individuals with terminal illnesses to end their lives on their own terms, there’s a real concern that such legislation can be dangerous when it comes to “those who might not have a strong support system; access to health care, palliative care, and hospice; or the benefit of a loving, caring family.”

How might this legislation lead to elder abuse? One point to consider, perhaps, is that many perpetrators of elder abuse actually are family members. And, some social workers fear that those family members may try to pressure their elderly loved ones into ending their lives. To be sure, California has seen its share of family caregivers who “were abusive and stole money from their disabled and elderly relatives.”

In addition, there’s a serious concern that staff members at care facilities might not be able to provide the right support that terminal patients need in deciding whether or not to choose assisted suicide. What happens when financial pressures lead to a patient’s decision to end his or her life? What about emotional pressures?

Limitations to Elder Abuse Safeguards

In short, the proposed assisted-suicide legislation in California doesn’t protect elderly patients from outside pressures that can impact their ultimate decisions. But, why is this a particular concern for older adults? To be sure, “no assisted suicide ‘safeguard’ can ever protect against coercion.” Then, why should we be talking about certain safeguards for the elderly?

When it comes to the elderly, it’s important to remember that many patients may have already been subject to nursing home neglect or abuse, and thus they may be emotionally incapacitated. In addition, many older adults suffer from diseases like dementia that ultimately limit decisionmaking capacities. Who will advocate for seniors when it comes to assisted-suicide options?

Certain elder advocates aren’t just concerned about pressures from family members and other outsiders. Indeed, insurance companies may also exert pressure on these patients if the bill passes. For instance, in Oregon, where such legislation already exists, insurance providers have denied treatment coverage to extend the life of a terminal patients but have agreed to pay for the same patient’s assisted suicide. And, if assisted suicide looks more like a “treatment option” that comes with a lower price today, advocates worry that elderly Californians won’t have anyone to speak up for their rights when it comes to medical care.

A lack of oversight also could prove problematic, as the legislation has “no requirement for an outside witness to be present when the deadly drugs are taken.” As such, “there would be no one there to know whether or not a patient changes her mind or decides that she isn’t ready to die,” and no one to confirm whether or not a patient took the drugs on her own “or if someone else put the lethal dose in a feeding tube.”

The Death with Dignity bill has goals that are certainly worthy of consideration. At the same time, a number of medical organizations and advocates argue that we may need to think deeply about how assisted-suicide legislation in California could lead to unintended elder abuse incidents. Should the Death with Dignity bill include certain safeguards against elder abuse? And, would such safeguards be effective?

If you have concerns about nursing home abuse or neglect, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer. An attorney at the Walton Law Firm can discuss your case with you today.

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Amidst news reports of elder abuse and neglect in assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) across the state, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has been criticized for its failure to investigate. What did it fail to investigate, exactly? Elderly patients and their families argue that they reported nursing home abuse incidents to the CDPH, yet they contend that the department didn’t investigate those complaints in a timely manner and failed to properly fine the responsible facilities.

budgetcalculatorMore Funding for Elder Abuse Investigations

According to a recent press release from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), Governor Jerry Brown has proposed a budget for the coming fiscal year that would “add more than $30 million and about 260 positions for the Licensing & Certification Division of the California Department of Public Health.” Yet, the most surprising part of the new budget isn’t merely about licensing and certification. Rather, as the CANHR suggests, it’s about taking complaints about nursing home abuse investigations more seriously.

To be sure, the press release emphasizes that, usually, when we see such a huge increase in a budget, we assume that “there must have been a huge increase in its workload to justify such an enormous expansion of its workforce.” In the current case, however, “that is not so.”

Given that the CDPH was so behind with investigations—primarily a problem of staffing shortages, the department suggests—it might not come as a complete shock that the department is increasing its staff into order to better handle complaints. As the CANHR explains, the department “is requesting the new positions primarily because its prior methodology for assessing staffing needs failed to consider that inspectors were needed to investigate its vast backlog of complaints or to finish complaint investigations and write reports after onside visits were conducted.”

Requirements to Promptly Investigate Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Nearly a decade ago, a San Francisco Superior Court Judge ordered the CDPH to promptly investigate allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect, which the department claimed it couldn’t do despite a recent $20 million budget increase for hiring investigators. A backlog of elder abuse complaints existed ten years ago at the department, and money didn’t seem to correct the problem.

Will additional finding help the CDPH to handle its current backlog and to properly investigate complaints of elder abuse in a timely fashion? While the $30 million going toward new jobs in the department will certainly help with the workload, it looks as though it still will have problems with prompt investigations. As the CANHR points out, “even with all the new positions,” the department believes that “it will take approximately four years to complete the current pending investigation workload.” And, that estimate doesn’t include new cases that are likely to come in during 2015.

Do you have an elderly parent or loved one who has suffered injuries as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect? It’s very important to discuss your case with an experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.

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Many of us know that the state of California has been under intense scrutiny for the way it has handled nursing home abuse and neglect violations. In addition to concerns about the frequency with which the California Department of Public Health has investigated a number of complaints, victim advocates also contend that facilities across the state aren’t fined enough to prevent future elder abuse violations.

According to a recent news release from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), the Department of Public Health has cited a couple of facilities in southern California for serious violations. And, according to the report, each of the facilities received a $75,000 fine—an amount that suggests that the state is heading in the right direction.

empty-bed-in-nursing-homeResident Death at Paramount Meadows

At the end of December 2014, Paramount Meadows Nursing Center in Los Angeles County received a Class AA citation, which was accompanied by a $75,000 fine, for the death of one of its residents. The victim, a 66-year-old resident at the facility, had repeatedly complained about pain and diarrhea. She suffered from a bladder infection, but due to inadequate care, she died as a result of the infection.

In the Department of Public Health’s report, it emphasized that the facility violated its duty to the patient in several ways, including but not limited to:

  •      Inadequate quality of care: under California law, a facility must provide its residents with “the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.”
  •      Inappropriate treatment for urinary incontinence: when a resident suffers from urinary incontinence, a facility must ensure that she “receives appropriate treatment and services to prevent urinary tract infections and to restore as much normal bladder function as possible.”
  •      Inadequate infection control: California requires that nursing homes and other facilities “establish and maintain an infection control program designed to provide a safe, sanitary, and comfortable environment and to help prevent the development and transmission of disease and infection.”

The patient who died as a result of her injuries complained specifically of back pain, side pain, vaginal pain, and pain at the site of the catheter. She eventually became unresponsive due to her infection. Because the facility failed to provide the patient with adequate care, violating some of the laws mentioned above, it was assessed a $75,000 fine.

MacLay Health Center Receives Similar Fine

Around the same time, MacLay Healthcare Center, also located in Los Angeles County, received a $75,000 fine and a AA citation due to the death of a female resident. Like the patient at Paramount Meadows, the MacLay patient came to the facility with “a history of urinary tract infections, dehydration, and trouble swallowing.” The staff didn’t properly administer the fluids required by the patient’s nutrition plan, and she died from injuries only 14 days after arriving at the facility.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious problem. If you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety, it’s very important to speak with an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer. At the Walton Law Firm, we have been helping elderly clients for years, and we can discuss your options with you today.

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