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It is critical for families and friends of older adults in Riverside County and throughout Southern California to recognize that nursing home abuse is not simply intentional physical or emotional abuse. To be sure, many serious and fatal injuries in nursing homes result from passive neglect, and caregivers can be responsible. According to a recent press release from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a registered nurse (RN) is facing charges related to nursing home neglect and abuse following the death of a 69-year-old female resident at an assisted-living facility in Riverside, California. 

The case underscores that the unintentional failure to provide care in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities can have deadly consequences, and emphasizes the need for families to hold facilities and individual caregivers accountable when their inaction causes serious harm.

Details of the Assisted-Living Facility Death

Nobody should have to learn that an elderly loved one has suffered injuries while living in a San Bernardino County nursing home. Yet injuries and deaths resulting from nursing home abuse and neglect happen much more frequently than most of us would like to think about. When an older adult does suffer serious injuries, or dies as a result of those injuries, it is critical to begin working with a San Bernardino County nursing home abuse lawyer to file a claim against the responsible parties. 

Yet how do you determine who is responsible for a senior’s injuries? Does liability differ when injuries arise out of unintentional passive neglect as opposed to intentional physical or psychological abuse? Every case has its own set of circumstances, so it is essential to determine how to file your claim with help from a lawyer. In the meantime, we want to provide you with general information about some of the parties who could be liable for injuries in a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Southern California.

Nursing Home Staff Members

5starBrookdale Senior Living, which is the country’s largest chain of senior living communities, is being sued by California prosecutors on the grounds of manipulating the Medicare nursing home ratings system. Becker’s Hospital Review recently published an article highlighting some details of the case. This federal ratings system assigns stars from one (being the worst) to five (being the best) to over 15,000 nursing homes nationwide. The system uses data submitted by nursing homes themselves, to assign stars. Prosecutors are claiming that Brookdale submitted false information in order to win a higher star rating, including exaggerating the number of hours that registered nurses work. This higher rating likely encouraged folks to choose Brookdale, making the chain of homes more money than they would have otherwise. The chain is also being accused of illegally evicting or transferring residents in order to make space for other residents that would bring in more money for the home.

These tactics used by Brookdale Senior Living highlight the manipulative, and often deceptive nature of large for-profit nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the US. The allegations against Brookdale follow a recent Times investigation that found many nursing homes have taken advantage of the starred system to achieve high ratings on false pretenses, leaving issues of care quality not addressed.  These allegations are clearly an exaggerated example of some of the wrongdoings that typical nursing homes perform, yet a good reminder of the lengths that homes will go to if their powers are left unchecked. If you feel that a loved one has been subject to negligence or other wrongdoings regarding elderly care at a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact Walton Law Firm today to speak with an elder abuse attorney.

Elder abuse in an Orange County nursing home can be difficult to identify no matter what form the abuse takes. Yet some types of nursing home abuse are even more difficult to identify than others because they do not have obvious physical signs and symptoms. There are many different forms of nursing home abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, willful deprivation, passive neglect, and psychological or emotional abuse. With many of those forms of abuse, friends or family members might see physical signs, like cuts or bruises, restraint marks, or bedsores. Yet when it comes to psychological abuse, the signs are not always as prominent.

We want to tell you more about psychological abuse, and to encourage you to seek help from a nursing home abuse lawyer if you have suspicions of abuse or neglect affecting your elderly loved one. 

Understanding Psychological Abuse in a California Nursing Home

When you have a loved one in a Riverside County nursing home or assisted living facility, or an elderly family member recently passed away while residing in a skilled nursing facility in Southern California, you might have concerns about whether nursing home abuse or neglect has played a role in your relative’s injuries or death. Most people do not have any specialized knowledge about how to detect elder abuse and neglect. As such, it can be extremely difficult to know whether you should move forward with a claim against the facility, or whether you should report the facility or launch an investigation. 

In short, it can be extremely difficult to know with certainty whether nursing home abuse or neglect has occurred. We want to offer you some information that can help if you are grappling with the complicated question of whether or not to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Riverside County.

Ask a Riverside County Nursing Home Abuse Attorney for Help 

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing major disruptions and serious illness concerns in San Diego County and throughout California. Nursing home residents, many of whom are elderly, are not only in a vulnerable age group when it comes to serious COVID-19 infections, but many nursing home residents also have underlying conditions that put them at greater risk for severe infection and even death. To prevent COVID-19 infections in nursing homes, in addition to providing a high quality of care to avoid nursing home neglect injuries, facilities should in theory be improving on the nurse-to-patient ratios required by the state. 

Yet according to a recent article in NPR, the state relaxed its nurse-to-patient ratios in mid-December 2020, which ultimately means that fewer nursing home patients are getting the level of care they need.

Staffing Problems Often Result in Nursing Home Neglect Injuries 

Is a senior in a nursing home at greater risk of suffering a fall-related injury if that senior is more socially isolated as a result of the pandemic? Nursing home staff members are supposed to provide regular and frequent care to nursing home residents, and to ensure that older adults in Los Angeles County nursing facilities are not left unattended for a long enough period of time that a serious or even fatal fall-related accident could happen. Yet according to a recent article in The New York Times, not only can social isolation increase a senior’s risk of suffering a fall injury when that senior is living alone, but social isolation can also put a senior at increased risk of a fall-related injury in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes. 

In short, having fewer people around—friends and family members—can make it more likely that an elderly adult will suffer a fall. Given that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significantly more social isolation for older adults, the pandemic ultimately could lead to more serious and fatal fall injuries among seniors.

New Study Shows Socially Isolated Seniors are More Likely to Fall

Nursing homes in Riverside County and throughout Southern California have been on high alert for COVID-19 infections among residents, given that the coronavirus causing this infection can spread rapidly in skilled nursing facilities and can cause severe infections among older adults. Yet many nursing homes continue to be ill-equipped when it comes to keeping residents safe and free of infection. Given that so many safety advocates have turned their attention to the spread of COVID-19 in California nursing homes, some facilities have been able to implement infection-control measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to make sure that residents are transported to hospitals as quickly as possible when they show signs of severe symptoms. 

However, according to a recent article from NPR, nursing homes may be encouraging the spread of COVID-19 by hiring nursing home workers that travel from one facility to another. Indeed, according to the article, “staff who work in multiple nursing homes” may in fact be the “source of the spread of infections” in a number of nursing homes to date. When COVID-19 spreads as a result of staff members traveling from facility to facility, what safety requirements must skilled nursing homes implement? Can these facilities be held accountable for nursing home negligence if they do not take additional steps to prevent COVID-19 infections when they employ staff members who work shifts across multiple different nursing homes?

Recent Study Suggests Nursing Home Staff Members Could be Spreading COVID-19 Infections to Patients

Worrying about an elderly loved one in an Orange County nursing home can be stressful and exasperating. When you have suspicions or concerns about nursing home abuse but you are not certain if you have clear evidence of negligence, you may feel unsure about whether you should move forward with allegations against a specific caregiver or against the nursing home or assisted-living facility. Many people find themselves in this situation, and it is critical to remember that the failure to take action can have serious consequences. If an older adult is suffering harm as a result of elder abuse or neglect at a California facility, the consequences can be debilitating and even fatal. 

Ultimately, if you have any suspicions or concerns about nursing home neglect, you should talk with an Orange County nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as you can. In the meantime, we want to provide you with some details about the varied consequences of nursing home abuse, particularly when it goes unreported, in California skilled nursing facilities.

Physical Harm and the Elderly Victim

California received its first batch of Covid-19 vaccinations and began vaccinating people according to recommendations from the California Department of Health. First, the vaccine is being given to health care workers and residents of skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and similar facilities for older and medically vulnerable patients.

NursingHomeVaccine-300x200Currently, there are more than 400,000 people living in skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, convalescent hospitals) in California. Questions arise over how to obtain consent for the vaccines for the elderly who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s or in some other way lack the capacity to give consent. Obtaining written consent from the patient him or herself would be the best, but that is not going to be possible for many residents of nursing home and assisted living facilities.

People are worried about the safety of vaccines, and some discount the severity of the virus itself. The federal government has not provided clear direction on how to best encourage people to consent to taking the vaccine. It is easy to imagine that within families there might be disagreement over whether a loved one should be vaccinated in the first place. These disagreements will need to be worked out because there is an urgent need to vaccinate the elderly who are disproportionately affected by Covid 19 and require hospitalization at higher rates than the rest of the population when they do get infected.

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