Articles Tagged with nursing home abuse

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200If you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home in San Clemente or elsewhere in San Diego County, it is important to learn more about sexual abuse and how it affects seniors. Nursing home abuse and neglect often involves physical or mental abuse of the elderly, but it can also include sexual abuse. Sometimes perpetrators of sexual abuse in nursing home settings are staff members, while in some situations other residents themselves may be the perpetrators.

A recent article in Reuters emphasized that the #MeToo movement is having an important effect across the country: More victims are reporting incidents of sexual assault and sexual abuse. We would like to focus on how this larger societal shift in addressing sexual assault and abuse can influence victims of sexual abuse in the nursing home setting. We will consider recent discussions of elder sex abuse and then discuss methods of detection and prevention.

Turning Media Attention to Sexual Abuse in the Nursing Home Setting

rt_k9r80pya-jean-gerber-300x200A lack of federal funding for elderly healthcare could cause a nursing home abuse epidemic in San Clemente and across the country, a recent article in The New York Times suggests. While a vote on the Senate health care bill has been delayed, even an amended version of the bill that includes drastic cuts to Medicaid could have serious and even deadly consequences for seniors living in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. As the article contends, if such a bill passes, introducing “Trumpcare” to California and to the rest of the country, it “is certain to produce drastic upheaval in the landscape of long-term care.” Medicaid is currently “by far the largest source of funding for nursing home stays,” providing the funding for almost two-thirds of all nursing home residents.

If funding ceases, the quality of care is likely to decline, as well. Such a cut to Medicaid would result, at best, in a rise in nursing home neglect cases, the article argues. Could changes to Medicaid funding really produce such damage to elderly nursing home residents’ care?

History of California Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

brian-erickson-204442-copy-300x169Residents of Poway should be aware of recent elder abuse allegations against a California VA hospital. According to a recent report from NBC News Los Angeles, a navy veteran’s family has filed an elder abuse and neglect claim against a Palo Alto veterans’ hospital following the veteran’s death. The report cites the family’s lawsuit, which alleges that the victim, Douglas Wayne Ross, died after sustaining a traumatic brain injury as a result of a fall. The family contends that “he was in need of continuous care and was left alone for too long.”

Details of the Lawsuit in California

How did the patient’s death occur? According to the report, 72-year-old Ross was admitted to the VA hospital in Palo Alto in spring 2016 for surgery. The surgery was supposed to “restore blood flow to his lower body.” After the first surgery, the patient suffered a heart attack. He remained at the hospital to recover, during which time he required continuous care. More specifically, the lawsuit alleges that he required “dialysis and blood thinners and was designated a high risk for falling down.”


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If you file a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Rancho Bernardo, can you be eligible to receive punitive damages? Punitive damages represent a particular type of remedy that is not awarded in many cases, including in lawsuits concerning nursing home abuse allegations. However, according to a recent opinion from the California Court of Appeals, Jarman v. HCR ManorCare (2017), there are indeed cases of elder abuse in which punitive damages are appropriate.

This case is important for nursing home residents in Rancho Bernardo and throughout the state of California as it makes clear that the court system will hold nursing facilities accountable for egregious acts of elder abuse. What else do you need to know about punitive damages in order to understand the weight of this decision?

What are Punitive Damages and Why are They Important?

DSC_0761-300x199Chronic nursing home abuse that results in frequent trips to hospitals and intensive care units is a problem in San Diego County and throughout Southern California. According to a recent article in the Compton Herald, a chronic nursing home neglect case in Inglewood highlights the risk of serious injuries in particular facilities and the threat of continuing healthcare violations. In the recent case, the facility, Centinela Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre, is one of numerous facilities owned by the Los Angeles billionaire Schlomo Y. Rechnitz, which are operated under the chain name of Brius Healthcare Services and have already came under scrutiny in 2016. Does the recent case suggest that Southern California residents need to be wary of this healthcare chain? What can family members do to help prevent nursing home abuse and neglect?

Details of the Recent Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Case

As the article reports, a Southern California woman was admitted into the Centinela Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre in Inglewood, where she was supposed to obtain rehabilitative services after being discharged from the Centinela Hospital Medical Center. While in the hospital, the patient had received care for about six weeks for “a severe body infection.” When she enters Centinela Skilled Nursing, her family members indicated that she was “progressing steadily,” recuperating from the infection that required her hospitalization. However, when the family visited her at the nursing facility a short time later, they found her “sitting in a wheelchair in a seemingly catatonic state, trembling uncontrollably, mumbling jibberish with her eyes rolling back in her head.”

454px-The_PhotographerIf you have an elderly loved one in a San Diego nursing home, should the prevalence of sex offenders within the facility impact how you gauge your relative’s personal safety and risk of nursing home abuse? We are not referring to convicted sex offenders who are working at nursing homes or assisted-living facilities, but rather convicted sex offenders who themselves are seniors and require attention in a facility designed for the elderly. Do such situations increase the likelihood of elder sexual abuse in the nursing home setting?

Notifying Nursing Homes About Residents on the Sex Offender Registry

A recent article in the Dayton Daily News raised this question, pointing out that in California the law requires the Department of Corrections or another agency to notify the nursing home if a person who is listed on the sex offender registry plans to move into a care facility. In the event that a government agency does not report this information, it is up to the offender to self-report that she or he is on the sex offender registry. In addition, nursing homes in San Diego and across the state are required to “notify all residents and employees,” according to the article. But are those steps sufficient to protect other residents from the risk of elder sexual abuse? On a related note, does the risk of being a victim of elder sexual abuse increase when an elderly person on the sex offender registry moves into a nursing home?

800px-Old_Man_in_San_JoseCalifornia law has proven to be a step ahead of federal law when it comes to banning arbitration agreements in nursing homes in order to prevent elder abuse. A recent Medicare final rule has banned nursing homes “from requiring patients to agree to mandatory arbitration prior to admission,” according to an article in Bloomberg BNA. Another article in The New York Times emphasized the importance of this new rule. When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released news of the final rule on September 28, San Diego nursing home residents already were protected against mandatory arbitration agreements under section 1599.81 of the California Health & Safety Code.

Yet the Medicare final rule still has relevance for San Diego residents. First, anyone living in Southern California who has elderly loved ones in another state now can be assured that those seniors, too, are protected against mandatory arbitration agreements. In addition, the new Medicare final rule also does more than protect against mandatory arbitration agreements, and those additional requirements will apply to elderly residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in the San Diego area.

How California Law Compares to CMS Final Rule on Arbitration Agreements

799px-Alcohol_bottles_photographed_while_drunkHow broad is the term nursing home neglect? For instance, when a senior has a problem with drug or alcohol abuse and lives in a nursing home or an assisted-living facility in Southern California, does the facility have a duty to prevent the senior from obtaining potentially harmful substances? And if the facility knows about a history of drug or alcohol abuse and does not take precautions to limit a senior resident’s access to alcohol or prescription drugs, can the nursing home be responsible for injuries that occur? According to a fact sheet from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), it can be difficult to recognize signs and symptoms of substance abuse among older adults.

Should we be able to expect that facilities will look into signs and symptoms of substance abuse among elderly residents? And if a facility in San Diego already knows that one of its residents has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, what must it do differently in other to avoid allegations of nursing home negligence?

Difficulty Identifying Senior Residents with Substance Abuse Problems

DSC05005Do you know enough about restraints in nursing homes and the importance of restraint-free care? According to a fact sheet from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), we as a society used to believe that the use of restraints was acceptable in nursing homes for elderly adults and those with disabilities. Yet the use of restraints in nursing homes is very dangerous, and it may rise to the level of nursing home abuse. As the fact sheet highlights, restraints “often entail more risks than benefits,” and recent studies “recommend more dignified methods to improve residents’ safety.”

Yet, as the CANHR fact sheet illumines, many nursing homes and assisted-living facilities continue to use unnecessary restraints, putting patients at risk of physical harm. And on the whole, California nursing homes, in particular, may be particularly heavy-handed in their use of unnecessary restraints. The fact sheet notes that “California nursing homes use physical restraints at a rate about fifty percent higher than the rest of the nation.” What else do you need to know about restraints and helping your loved one to obtain restraint-free care in a skilled nursing facility in San Diego?

California and Federal Law Prohibits Unnecessary Restraints

NAMI_logoWhat do you know about mental health and nursing home neglect?

According to an article in Psychology Today, mental illness has become “the biggest economic burden of any health issue in the world, costing $2.5 trillion in 2010” alone. By 2030, that cost is expected to nearly triple to $6 trillion. However, despite the prevalence and costliness of mental illness—approximately 450 million people across the world currently suffer from some form of mental illness—the article emphasizes that mental health conditions continue to carry a stigma that prevents us as a society from talking about them openly and honestly. Unsurprisingly, the continued stigma of mental health or mental illness also makes its way into nursing homes, where patients who suffer from a mental health condition often becomes victims of nursing home abuse or neglect.

What can we do to prevent elder neglect among mental health patients?