A nursing home facility in Bakersfield was fined $100,000, the stiffest penalty imposed by the state Public Health Department, in connection with the death of a patient from adverse medication interactions. According to an article in the Bakersfield Californian, the patient’s death occurred when the nursing home was run by Pleasant Care Corp., which has since paid the fine.
This is one of 15 AA citations issued by the California Health Department this year. California only issues AA citations when a patient’s death is directly caused by a nursing homes negligence.
According to a report filed with the state, the patient was admitted to the nursing home in September 2006 and prescribed the blood thinner Coumadin and an anti-inflammatory drug, Mobic. On Oct. 19, 2006, the patient was taken to a hospital for low blood pressure and bloody stool and died 12 hours later.
Preceding their bankruptcy, Pleasant Care settled a $1.3 million lawsuit brought by former state Attorney General Bill Lockyer in 2006 as a result of allegations of elder abuse and negligent care. Pleasant Care facilities received more than 160 violations of state regulations over the previous five-year period. That is more than 2.5 violations that they were cited for. On one knows how many there really were.
Patient death caused by nursing home negligence is sadly increasing more dramatically than the rise in the population of seniors residing in nursing homes. Nursing homes typically take advantage of family guilt of turning over the care of their loved one to a nursing home by rushing the family to commit to their facility before considering others. The nursing homes with the worst records do not want a family to fully evaluate their facility and compare it to other. They also have the family sign waivers and arbitration agreements without a full understanding of what they are signing.
Patients and their families are protected by various existing laws and have substantial rights. Nursing homes and elder care facilities are obligated to deliver a high degree of care. I’m glad that the state department is going after nursing facilities like Pleasant Valley and I hope the victim’s family is consulting with an experienced nursing home abuse and negligence lawyer. Taking these businesses to court is the best way to deter nursing homes from neglecting and abusing their patients. These are for profit companies and if it is there best financial interest to provide good care, they will. If it is there best financial interest to skimp on care, they will.
If the family of the man who was the subject of this citation wants to bring a lawsuit against this nursing home, their time is running out. The statute of limitations for personal injury matters in California, for an adult, is two years in most situations.