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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.

While most of us like to think about the holiday season as a time of joy and getting together with family members and friends, this holiday season is already looking quite different due to the risks of COVID-19 infection. For many nursing home residents, COVID-19 infections can prove fatal, and residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities may be at greater risk of getting sick in an outbreak at one of these facilities. As such, many seniors in San Bernardino County nursing homes likely will not have the same guests this year as in years prior. 

In years without a global health pandemic, the holiday season is often one of the best times for family and friends to look for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect while visiting elderly parents and loved ones. Without regular visits during the holidays, seniors could suffer the effects of nursing home abuse or neglect without having any loved ones nearby to help stop the abuse and to help get care. This holiday season, it is essential to recognize that elder abuse and neglect will not simply stop because there is a global health pandemic. It is important to understand the signs of abuse and to check on elderly relatives who could be suffering from serious injuries in San Bernardino nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

What Should You Know About Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes? 

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.

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