A report by Kaiser Health News states that Los Angeles public health officials instructed their inspectors to close nursing home neglect and abuse cases without fully or properly investigating them. According to the report, officials did so as part of their effort to reduce the backlog of nursing home health and safety complaints. The effort, which was known as "Complaint Workload Clean Up Project" had been ongoing since the summer of 2012, according to memos circulated among managers, inspectors and supervisors at the department. Nearly one-third of the 1,286 nursing homes in California are in Los Angeles County.
Recently in Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect Category
An in-depth watchdog report on U-T San Diego examines numerous pages of state regulatory records which show that hundreds of seniors living in San Diego's assisted living homes have suffered broken bones, deadly bed sores and have even been sexually assaulted in the facilities that promised them care and security. The report states that since 2008, at least 27 San Diego County seniors have died as a result of negligence and abuse suffered in these facilities.
The California Department of Public Health has fined three Bay Area nursing homes a total of $200,000 for incidents of neglect that reportedly led to the deaths three residents. According to a news report in the San Jose Mercury News, the facility, formerly known as Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation-Bay View in Alameda, was fined $75,000. O'Connor Hospital's skilled nursing facility in San Jose was slapped with a $65,000 while St. John Kronstadt Convalescent Center in Castro Valley was fined $60,000. These are all Class AA citations, which the health department reserves for the most severe violations under the law.
A new law is being proposed that will require nursing homes to submit a monthly report regarding the extent of antipsychotic medications being used at the facilities. According to a news report on McKnights.com, The Improving Dementia Care Treatment in Older Adults Act (S. 3604) was introduced this week by senators Herb Kohl, Chuck Grassley and Richard Blumenthal. This new law would basically standardize procedures for obtaining informed consent from a resident or their legally designated representative acknowledging the potential risks and side effects associated with psychotropic drugs.
The law also calls for the creation of prescriber education programs and campaigns to promote non-drug treatments for hostile dementia residents. Kohl says that the goal of the legislation is to decrease the use of antipsychotics in nursing homes and move toward safer alternatives.
A California appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against the owner of 16 care facilities in Alameda County stating that patients can sue these nursing homes for failing to meet the state's nurse-staffing standards, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The owner of the nursing homes in question, Orange County-based Covenant Care, argued that only state regulators have the authority to enforce a requirement that nursing homes provide each patient with 3.2 hours of nursing care per day. A Superior Court agreed and threw out the lawsuit. However, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco disagreed and overruled that decision.
The Presiding Justice, Ignazio Ruvolo, said in the unanimous 3-0 ruling that state law gives its blessing to nursing home residents to bring action against the facility to "remedy violations of their rights." Those rights include, according to the judge, the right to live in a facility that is properly and adequately staffed. The group of patients that is suing Covenant Care is seeking to prove that the facilities violated state staffing standards at least 35 percent of the time over a four-year period beginning in December 2006.
A man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home alleging that the assisted living facility neglected his elderly mother causing her death. According to a CBS news article, Ronald Corn filed a lawsuit in connection with the death of his mother Loretta Hooker. The lawsuit states that Hooker became a resident at the Sunrise Sterling Canyon Assisted Living Center in Valencia in July 2007 as she suffered from dementia, weakness and fragility. As Hooker's condition became better she was transferred to a part of the home that was designated for those suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is stepping in to curtail nursing home abuse that is occurring in care facilities in the form of unnecessary over-drugging of patients. According to a 10News report, CMS has resolved to reduce antipsychotic use in nursing homes by 15 percent by the end of 2012. Nursing home advocates such as the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) are welcoming this move especially because government officials are now talking about specific numbers.
The problem of unnecessary and excessive use of antipsychotic drug use has become a serious problem in nursing homes in California and across the nation. Antipsychotic drugs were created to help patients cope with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. However, nursing homes have used them to treat other mental illnesses such as dementia, for which these drugs have not been approved. Nursing homes continue to use these drugs to sedate or "chemically restrain" nursing home patients despite repeated warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that doing so can cause death in the elderly.
A Downey care facility is being fined after state officials determined that the nursing home was negligent in its care for an elderly patient who eventually went into a diabetic coma and died. According to a news report in The Press-Telegram, the California Department of Public Health fined the Downey Rehabilitation Care Center $80,000 and issued the most severe AA citation. Officials say inadequate care led to the patient’s death in 2010. If the nursing home receives another AA citation over the next two years, it could lose its license. The nursing home has appealed the citation and fine.
As if the rise in nursing home abuse wasn’t enough, now senior-care placement companies, which “help” seniors find retirement homes, are fueled by commission-only sales which funnel elderly citizens into facilities that pay the highest price in finders’ fees. Usually these placement companies never screen the nursing homes for past violations, even if they include medical malpractice, neglect, physical abuse, and sanitation and food safety concerns.
The California Department of Public Health has fined a care facility for nursing home neglect. According to an Associated Press news report, a 78-year-old man died at the Orchard-Post Acute Care facility in Whittier after staff members incorrectly inserted a gastrostomy tube into him. The tube apparently did not go all the way to his stomach, stopping instead at the peritoneal cavity. This mistake led to food and medication failing to enter his stomach. He suffered inflammation, respiratory failure and septic shock. He passed away six days after the procedure. The care facility has been fined $75,000 by the California Department of Public Health for the fatal incident.
Nursing home abuse is more common than people would like to believe. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to identify and prove, especially in cases where no relatives reside near the facility housing their loved one. The leading resource to obtain information in reference to nursing home abuse and neglect is nursinghomeabusecenter.org, and concerned parties should visit their site. This comprehensive website is an excellent resource and guide to utilize when searching for information and advice aimed at protecting residents of nursing homes.
Forms of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse is typically categorized by physical, emotional, or financial harm that is placed upon residents of these facilities. Further discussions on each of these forms of abuse are available at nursinghomeabusecenter.org, which provides a plethora of useful information about this subject, and a brief discussion of these is provided here.
As the date mandating the implementation of nursing home star ratings approaches, victims of nursing home neglect and abuse are coming forward more frequently. Those who were afraid to tell of their horrific experiences are now feeling that their voice will be heard, and are attempting to hold their wrong-doers responsible for the pain and suffering they have caused. Instead of the respect and care that American seniors have earned through lifetimes of service they face abuse, neglect, and fraud at the very hands of those tasked with keeping them safe.
Many citizens are shocked by the allegations that arise when seniors reveal instances of elder abuse, but if you are familiar with California nursing homes you know that these problems have existed and transpired for several decades. The nursing home star ratings will help many families choose a nursing home that is fit for their loved ones, but this should be the first of several steps to help protect America's elderly before it's too late.
California's nursing home rating system is going public this new year, giving seniors something to cheer about. California being infamous for their disturbingly high instances of senior abuse has made it clear that not only do they require a rating system, but each nursing home's rating must be displayed so that anyone walking through the front door can see it. Although 187 homes achieved the top 5 star rating, 195 received the lowest. Many nursing home officials are upset with the new rating system, which is a small price to pay to answer the public outcry that has arisen over the years.
A sigh of relief is heard across California as nursing homes are now required to participate in a public nursing home rating system. According to the Los Angeles Times, nursing homes throughout California have begun to post federal star ratings giving prospective seniors and their families a fighting chance at comfortable and safe care. Few can argue that these ratings are not useful, but some are arguing that they are unfair.
Senior Abuse Becomes a Sore Subject
Victims of senior abuse can vouch that this subject is very personal, but nursing home owners and operators have wasted no time to complain about their own injustices in regards to the new rating system. Nursing home officials complain that the scoring system does not accurately reflect a facility's quality.
"It should just be a straight rating in a free-market system where you get stars based on performance," said Mary Jann, director of regulatory affairs for the Sacramento-based California Assn. of Health Facilities, which represents about 800 skilled nursing facilities statewide.
This stance towards the new rating system is pretty ironic. Their stance leads to some obvious questions; shouldn't we be incorporating state public health complaints and citations? If a facility is constantly alleged to be participating in nursing home abuse, the general public has a right to know.
According to a recent report from the American Association for Justice entitled, "Standing Up for Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans," nursing home abuse and neglect is increasingly becoming a reality for many of our nation's seniors in nursing homes. There are laws meant to protect senior citizens and regulators assigned to ensure that these laws are being followed, so what is behind this increase in the numbers of seniors experiencing elder abuse or neglect?