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Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many different forms in San Diego County, from physical abuse to emotional or psychological abuse. While many families know the warning signs of physical abuse or passive neglect, such as restraint marks, bruises, or bedsores, knowledge about sexual abuse in the nursing home setting is less common. Yet a recent case in El Cajon serves as a warning about nursing home sexual abuse and the serious risks that seniors face. According to a recent report from KPBS News, a 73-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by a staff member at the El Cajon nursing home, and the nursing home failed to take the necessary steps to hold the staff member accountable. 

Nursing Assistant Sexually Abuses Elderly Patient

According to the report, the nursing home sexual abuse occurred at Avocado Post Acute nursing home in El Cajon, California. The 73-year-old patient who sustained the abuse described it as “one of the most horrifying experiences of her life.”

Lomita Post-Acute Care Center of Los Angeles County, California was issued a Class AA Citation by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on August 14, 2020 after a resident was killed due to sepsis resulting from negligent patient care at the facility.

The Care Center failed to follow its own policies and procedures to ensure that the resident, who had been admitted just 7 days prior, received the care she needed, which started with an accurate assessment of the resident’s change of condition, in combination with urinary catheter care, reporting to the physician the resident’s change of condition in a timely manner, and sending the resident to the hospital only after a family member insisted.

Interviews and Nurses Notes indicated that on several instances there was no documented confirmation that the Resident’s catheter was being examined per physician’s orders. Which likely contributed to the UTI that later caused Sepsis in the Resident.

Santa Fe Heights nursing home in Compton was issued an AA citation by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on October 16, 2020 after a resident was seriously was killed in a fall that went unnoticed by staff.

The injured resident had four falls in four consecutive months despite being assessed by nursing home staff at being at high risk for falling. After the fourth fall, the resident was found on the floor unresponsive and without vital signs.  An investigation by CDPH revealed that Santa Fe Heights failed to implement safety measure and provide adequate supervision to the resident and failed to develop a plan of care to address his growing fall risk.

Nursing notes revealed that at the time of the last (and fatal) fall, the resident was found by a CNA on the floor at 2:45 pm after attempting to transfer from the toilet. He reportedly hit his head in the fall and was promptly returned to bed without a neuro-check being performed. Despite his obvious signs of injury, including a laceration on his head, there was no assessment for injury, nor any follow up.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for Los Angeles County nursing home residents and for nursing home residents throughout the state of California. Older adults in nursing homes are particularly susceptible to severe COVID-19 infections, and many facilities do not have the type of infection-control measures in place that can effectively prevent the spread of the coronavirus, not to mention the fact that many of those facilities are understaffed and cannot properly serve the patients who are suffering from serious infections. 

According to a recent article in Roll Call, the pandemic and its effects on nursing home residents has led policymakers and safety advocates to seek significant changes to nursing home safety in order to prevent avoidable injuries and deaths caused by nursing home negligence.

Senior Safety Advocates Seek More Funding and Long-Term Changes for Nursing Home Safety

Nursing home residents in Orange County have a wide variety of rights under California law, which are designed to protect nursing home residents from elder abuse and neglect. Much too often, seniors in skilled nursing facilities in Southern California are still subject to poor care and intentional abuse, and many suffer serious or life-threatening injuries as a result. However, it is still important for older adults and their families to know what their rights are under California law. 

Even if the existence of nursing home residents’ rights are insufficient to prevent nursing home abuse or neglect from happening in the first place, recognizing rights and understanding when they have been violated may allow a senior or her family to take action by filing a claim against the facility or a particular healthcare provider. The following are examples of the resident rights in Orange County nursing homes.

General Residents’ Rights in California Nursing Homes

Nursing homes in San Bernardino County and throughout the state of California have a duty to patients when it comes to infection-control measures and preventing the spread of COVID-19. Yet many facilities have not provided the type of protection that is necessary for seniors, resulting in serious and deadly COVID-19 infections. When a nursing home fails to provide the type of protection to seniors that is necessary to avoid infection with a deadly virus, the nursing home may be liable for negligence. According to a recent report in Becker’s Hospital Review, hospitals and nursing homes across California are facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines for “lax coronavirus protection.” 

Lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

One of the most important infection-control measures for nursing homes is providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff. PPE helps to prevent nursing home staff members from contracting the virus in a nursing home, but also from spreading it to patients within the facility. According to the article, the California Occupational Safety and Health division is currently proposing more than $77,000 in fines for five skilled nursing facilities and hospitals in the state for failing to provide adequate PPE.

If you are considering a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Riverside County, you are likely wondering what steps you will need to go through during the claims process, and how the lawsuit will work more generally. The most important part of any nursing home abuse lawsuit is hiring an experienced nursing home abuse attorney who can help you to hold the nursing home and any other parties accountable. While each lawsuit will have its own particularities based on the facts of the case, the following are general steps that you can expect in a nursing home abuse lawsuit.

 
Meeting With a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

 
The first step in any nursing home abuse case is to meet with a nursing home abuse lawyer in order to receive case evaluations and to select an attorney for your case. When you first meet with a nursing home abuse attorney in Riverside County or elsewhere in Southern California, that lawyer will evaluate your case and will provide you with more information about what you should expect in the case and what type of compensation you might be able to expect.

The prospect of filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit in San Diego County can feel daunting, especially if you are unsure about whether it makes sense to begin the process of taking action against a particular facility. The most critical thing to remember is that, if you have any suspicions about nursing home abuse or neglect, it is always a better idea to do something than to hope that your concerns are misplaced. Much too often, nursing home abuse occurs—and continues to happen—because nobody takes action to stop it. An experienced San Diego County nursing home abuse attorney can help you to understand whether you have a valid claim, and what steps you need to take in order to move forward with a lawsuit.

 
In the meantime, the following are some commonly asked questions about nursing home abuse claims, along with answers to help you get started.

 
How Does California Law Define Nursing Home Abuse?

If you are considering filing an elder abuse claim in Los Angeles County, it is important to understand how much time you have to file a lawsuit. All civil lawsuits have what is known as a “statute of limitations,” which creates a time window for filing a claim. If a plaintiff does not file his or her lawsuit within that time window, the claim can become time-barred. A time-barred claim is one that is barred from being filed because the statute of limitations ran out. In some cases, it can be possible to pause the statute of limitations, which is known as tolling. In the meantime, the following is some important information about the timeline for a nursing home abuse claim.

 
Statute of Limitations for a Negligence Claim

 
Many nursing home abuse and neglect cases are filed as negligence claims under California law. Like many other personal injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations in these cases is two years under Section 335.1 of the California Code of Civil Procure. How does the statute of limitations relate to filing a claim, and when does the “clock” start ticking? In most negligence cases, including claims for injuries resulting from nursing home abuse, the clock on the statute of limitations will start to “tick” on the date of the injury, or the nursing home abuse incident.

Whether you are concerned about COVID-19 risks in Los Angeles County nursing homes or at facilities elsewhere in Southern California, it is critical to learn more about why skilled nursing facilities are frequently coronavirus “hot spots” and to find out what you can do if an elderly loved one suffers a severe infection. According to a recent article from the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), dozens of elderly residents at nursing homes in San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and across the state are testing positive for COVID-19 despite the fact that many facilities say they are taking precautions.

 
What is happening, and why are nursing homes so dangerous? Are there specific qualities of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) that make these places more hazardous for older adults who are at risk of severe infection from the virus? Or is the quality of care insufficient?

 
More than 40% of COVID-19 Deaths are Nursing Home Residents or Workers

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