How often does the California Department of Public Health fine nursing homes and assisted-living facilities for elderly patient injuries and deaths? When facilities do receive significant fines as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, are those fines sufficient to protect other residents in the future? According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Daily News, the California Department of Public Health issued a $75,000 fine for a Southern California nursing home due to neglect resulting in a patient’s death.
Fatal Injuries Caused By Nursing Home Neglect in Canoga Park
As the article explains, Topanga Terrace, a nursing home in Canoga Park, was issued a $75,000 fine “after staff there failed to monitor a resident who kept removing his own breathing tube, resulting in death.” The patient needed a tracheostomy tube in order to breathe following a surgery in 2013. In addition to the use of the tracheostomy tube, the patient also “suffered from multiple illnesses including dementia, chronic respiratory failure, and tuberculosis.” Despite his medical needs, however, the facility did not have a treatment plan that included methods to prevent or deter the patient from removing his breathing tube.
Since the patient was not properly monitored—and that neglect directly led to the patient’s death—the nursing home received a Class AA citation. California state officials emphasized that this is “the most severe penalty under state law.” In issuing the Class AA citation, state officials highlighted the deficiencies at the facility were indeed the proximate cause of the patient’s death.
How common are Class AA citations, and how often do they result in substantial fines? As the article clarifies, Class AA citations can range from $25,000 to $100,000. Lesser fines include those for Class A citations, which range from $2,000 to $20,000, and Class B citations, which range from $100 to $2,000.
Topanga Terrace does not have a clear history of nursing home abuse violations. The Los Angeles Daily News reported that it has above average ratings from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. However, the fatal incident of nursing home neglect makes clear that we cannot always judge the safety of a facility based on its history. Instead, it is important to take into account a facility’s safety history alongside many other significant factors when selecting a nursing home for an elderly loved one.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
If a facility’s history of nursing home abuse and neglect violations is not the only factor to consider at a facility, what other issues should be important to consider? An article in U.S. News & World Report cites some of the following conditions as those that should make us rethink the safety of our elderly loved ones in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities:
- Continually unanswered or deflected questions from a nursing home or assisted-living facility;
- Frantic or chaotic staff;
- High rate of turnover among staff;
- Unanswered call lights and phones that are not being answered;
- Loved ones showing signs of malnourishment; and
- Loved ones requesting not to be treated by certain staff members.
If you have safety concerns about a facility in Southern California, you should speak with a San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information.
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