Every year, nursing homes throughout the state of California are fined for deficiencies found in state investigations, frequently related to nursing home care. The fines range anywhere from a Class B fine of $1,000 to an AA citation of $100,000, as was recently issued against the Encinitas nursing home Aviara Healthcare.
But California officials concede that collecting these fines can take years, if they are collected at all. Nursing homes have a right to appeal fines that are issued, and most do. In the year 2007, the state issued more than $2 million in fines and to date has collected less than 10 percent.
The California Department of Public Health is charged with the oversight of skilled nursing facilities, and is the state department that issues and collects nursing home penalties. They simply don’t have the manpower to get the job done.
“Because the department doesn’t have enough attorneys, their appeal system is broken right now, they don’t even have enough administrative law judges to process the appeals,” says Pat McGinnis, director of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.”
The nursing home industry is using the system to its benefit. Because of under funded enforcement, nursing homes know that appealing any penalty presents an opportunity to either negotiate the fine down to a negligible amount, or will simply drag the matter on for years.
The nursing home malpractice lawyers at Walton Law Firm LLP provide free consultations to individuals and families who believe a loved one has suffered from abuse or neglected in a nursing home or residential care setting.