The family of a 91-year-old nursing home patient, who died after he choked on a piece of fruit, has filed a lawsuit against a Modesto nursing home alleging abuse and negligence through a Modesto lawyer who has declined to comment about the case, according to an article in the Modesto Bee newspaper. The report stated that State health authorities imposed a $100,000 fine against English Oaks Convalescent and Rehabilitation Hospital in connection with the death of Ernest Costa Sr. – a death, which could have been entirely prevented, had the nursing home staff done their job.
The citation reportedly accused the nursing home of not only failing to find out or recognize what was happening to the patient, but failing to provide emergency care and procedures such as the Heimlich maneuver to try and save Costa. Seriously, what kind of training did these nurses and nursing assistants receive? Apparently, not much. Costa needed help with eating and other everyday activities.
What’s more, this is not the home’s first citation. In 2000, they were slapped with a $60,000 fine for the death of a 74-year-old patient. In her case, state officials said the facility did not properly monitor the woman’s feeding tube, causing a lethal infection.
Understaffing and lack of training are the most common issues that lead to nursing home abuse. According to a report by the California Advocated of Nursing Home Reform, turnover rates in nursing homes among nursing assistants in 2002 was over 80 percent in 19 states and 100 percent in 10 states. The same report also cites a 2005 analysis of nursing home staffing data, which shows that the proportion of care provided by registered nurses is on the decline despite increases in Medicare funding specifically set aside for nursing.
The lawsuit filed by Costa’s family alleges that the facility deliberately understaffed and underfunded the nursing home to increase their profits. If the charges and complaints against this facility are true, they must indeed be made to pay for it. It is inexcusable for a nursing home to take thousands of dollars from trusting families and then break that trust by turning around and neglecting the basic needs of the vulnerable people under their care. It is appalling, unethical and completely unacceptable.
Hopefully, lawsuits such as these will make these unethical nursing homes pay for their wrongdoing and deter others from committing such negligence in the future. It’s the only way to right these wrongs and make wrongdoers pay for their actions.