California Family Sues Nursing Home for Abuse and Neglect

file0002014909352According to a recent article in the Contra Costa Times, the family members of an 85-year-old senior are suing the San Pablo skilled care facility where she lived for elder abuse and neglect. The family alleges that the senior’s death was “the direct result of improper care at the facility where she was a patient for the last three years.” The family also alleges that the San Pablo facility, Vale Healthcare Center, failed to:

  • Meet staff-to-patient ratios required by the law;
  • Provide care plans for dementia patients;
  • Properly assess patient injuries;
  • Properly train staff;
  • Adequately monitor high-risk patients; and
  • Report violations to the state of California.

Given that around 185 elderly residents live at the facility, it is important to take a closer look at the allegations and consider how licensed nursing homes and other facilities for the elderly are held accountable for instances of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Patient’s Death a Result of Improper Care

A serious fall accident in which the 85-year-old woman broke her hip is the moment the facility began to fail her. The facility did not tell the woman’s family that she had suffered a fall and had broken her hip. In addition, the staff at the facility did not properly assess the senior’s injuries. They only transferred her to the hospital a day after she suffered the severe fall and broken hip. About a month after her delayed admission to the hospital, the woman died.

The family has serious concerns about whether their elderly loved one received proper treatment at Vale Healthcare Center, but they are also worried about the nearly 200 other patients who reside at this facility. The facility is one of nineteen care facilities throughout California owned by Mariner Health Care. Advocates emphasize that the costs of labor for a facility like Vale Healthcare Center are high, and as a result some facilities try to “do it on the cheap.” When facilities are understaffed and or do not provide proper training to staff members, the quality of care for elderly patients can suffer dramatically.

Facility Owner Disputes Allegations

In response to the lawsuit, Mariner Health Care disputed the allegations. A spokesperson for the facility said, “Our employees strive to provide quality and compassionate care to our residents while remaining in compliance with state regulations and required staffing levels. We value our residents whom we are privileged to serve, and our dedicated team members work hard to meet their needs each and every day.”

What will the facility need to prove? At the basic level, it might show that it provided the staffing levels required of skilled nursing facilities by California law, which include providing “at least 3 hours and 12 minutes of nursing care daily for each patient.” However, based on Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare tool, Vale Healthcare Center provides patients only with “an average of 1 hours and 18 minutes of nursing care,” which is less than the average in California of 1 hour and 52 minutes.

When we select a skilled nursing facility to provide care to our elderly loved ones, we should be able to expect a certain quality of care. If you have concerns about your loved one’s risk of nursing home neglect, you should speak with a dedicated San Diego elder neglect lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.

See Related Blog Posts:

Mandatory Liability Insurance and RCFEs

Distinguishing Elder Abuse from Common Injuries