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Deaths in Assisted Living Facilities Show Systemic Failures

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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.

Severe Neglect and Abuse

Many of these incidents, which are symptomatic of critical systemic failures in these expensive facilities, are apparently not being made public by state regulators, prosecutors or police, U-T San Diego’s ongoing six-month investigation has found. For some of the elderly residents who died, the state agency charged with protecting them never investigated or penalized the caregivers, the investigation found. Here are just a few examples of the fatal cases involving severe neglect:

• A man died after he spent two days on the floor of his room – undetected, bruised and soiled with feces.

• Another man in Merrill Gardens, Oceanside, developed six deepening bedsores on his hip, heel, coccyx and testicles before he died. All bedsores were overlooked by the staff.

• Mission Home IV in San Diego failed to act after finding a woman on the floor with wet clothing and bedding and soiled clothes. She also died.

Of course, these are a hand full of incidents among the population of 14,500 residents living in 640 nursing homes in San Diego County. Nevertheless, they raise very important questions about how families choose nursing homes for their loved ones and how the state monitors their care. State regulators say they have no way of knowing how many seniors die in nursing homes because of an antiquated computer system that is not capable of tracking such data.

Holding Wrongdoers Accountable

It is unacceptable for nursing homes that take a significant amount of money from families to care for their loved ones, to get away with any neglect or abuse. This issue involves one of the most vulnerable sections of our society. The elderly deserve to spend the last years of their lives with peace, comfort and dignity. Families that entrust their loved ones to the care of these so-called specialized facilities must be able to relax knowing that their family members will be safe, cared for and comfortable. Any one who has been abused or neglected in a nursing home or assisted living facility would be well advised to contact an experienced California nursing home lawyer who will ensure that the wrongdoers are held accountable.

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