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Articles Posted in Assisted Living Facilities

When you are helping an elderly parent or loved one to find a nursing home in Orange County or elsewhere in Southern California, the process of searching for a safe facility can be daunting. While nursing home rating systems exist, recent reports suggest that those ratings may not provide a full or accurate picture of safety violations at those facilities or actual staff-patient ratios. Information about safety violations can be more difficult to locate since that information is not easily obtained through a central repository, depending upon the location of the facility and other factors. How, then, can you identify a safe nursing home in Orange County? 

It is critical to keep in mind that any nursing home can be a site of nursing home abuse or neglect. Even facilities that have no histories of negligence can be the subject of a future investigation. Thus it is nearly impossible to know with absolute certainty that a facility is safe. However, there are certain factors you can look for in a facility to have more confidence in its treatment of and care for residents. Our Orange County nursing home abuse attorneys want to provide you with tips for choosing a facility.

Transparency in Policies

More patients in San Diego County nursing homes and across the country are being diagnosed with schizophrenia for reasons that are questionable and raise concerns about nursing home negligence, as a recent article in The New York Times suggested. But are some patients more affected than others, and is race playing a role? A follow-up report in The New York Times argues that Black residents are being disproportionately affected by these harmful diagnoses and subsequent administration of antipsychotic medications, suggesting that nursing home abuse has a clear racial dimension in these situations. Are schizophrenia diagnoses, and other issues in nursing homes, affecting Black residents more than other elderly patients at skilled nursing facilities? 

Black Nursing Home Residents are Diagnosed with Schizophrenia More Often

More nursing home residents are being diagnosed with schizophrenia so that the facilities can administer antipsychotic drugs to “difficult” patients, The New York Times has suggested. Indeed, since nursing home residents with schizophrenia can still readily be prescribed antipsychotic medications (whereas regulations have attempted to reduce the use of antipsychotics in other nursing home cases), there has been a surge in the number of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Since 2012, the number of elderly patients diagnosed with schizophrenia has “grown by 70%.” The article points to a new study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, which found that the “impact of this has been more severe on Black residents.”

Nobody wants to think about risks of elder abuse and neglect at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Riverside County, yet older adults routinely suffer serious and fatal injuries as a result of nursing home abuse. It is critical for family members to recognize that nursing home abuse and neglect often go unreported. Thus, it is essential to be able to recognize the signs of various types of abuse, from symptoms of physical or emotional abuse to clear warning signs of passive neglect. Although each type of nursing abuse has its own particular signs and symptoms, you should always seek help anytime an elderly loved one exhibits changes in behavior or shows signs of physical harm that do not have a logical explanation. 

Why does nursing home abuse go unreported so frequently? Our Riverside County nursing home abuse attorneys want to discuss some of the common reasons that abuse and neglect are not reported at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Southern California.

Fear of Further Abuse or Retaliation 

For over a year now, families have been worried about elderly loved ones residing in Los Angeles County nursing homes due to the spread of COVID-19 and the number of deaths in skilled nursing facilities. Yet when it comes to infection-control measures in Southern California nursing homes, COVID-19 is not the only issue that can result in serious injury and death to nursing home residents. Indeed, just as the pandemic is beginning to get under control through vaccines, health officials are identifying the rise of serious drug-resistant fungal infections in America’s nursing homes. According to a recent article in The New York Times, “a deadly, hard-to-treat fungal infection . . . has been spreading through nursing homes and hospitals across the United States,” and it is “becoming even more dangerous.”

Drug-Resistant Fungal Infection Evades All Medication 

The most worrying recent issue concerning this drug-resistant fungus, Candida auris (or C. auris), is that several cases have been documented in which the infection “was completely impervious to all existing medication,” according to The New York Times article. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the drug resistance recently documented is “an alarming development in the evolution of C. auris.” The CDC describes it as “a tenacious yeast infection discovered in Japan in 2009 that has since spread across much of the world.”

One way in which nursing home residents in San Bernardino can suffer serious injuries during the summer months is dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other hyperthermia conditions. While many people assume that such injuries or conditions may be common during the particularly warm summer months in Southern California, especially when there is a heat wave, yet no residents at skilled nursing facilities in California should suffer from any of these heat-related conditions simply because the outdoor temperatures are setting records. To be sure, nursing homes in California must ensure that residents are safe and are not subject to extreme temperatures that can cause serious harm.   

If a nursing home fails to provide cooler temperatures for residents during the summer months, can that nursing home be held accountable for injuries? Nursing homes certainly may be liable in certain situations where residents sustain hyperthermia-related injuries as a result of nursing home neglect.

Nursing Home Neglect and Hyperthermia

In Riverside County and throughout Southern California, nursing home residents died as a result of COVID-19 infections. For many of these residents and patients, infections and resulting deaths could have been avoided if facilities were properly staffed and if those facilities had engaged in effective and appropriate infection-control measures. However, as a recent Human Rights Watch report emphasizes, the pandemic has exposed not only the serious negligence of facilities related to controlling COVID-19 infections, but underlying problems at facilities that resulted in worse situations during the pandemic. 

Myopic Focus and Lack of Visitors Led to Increased Nursing Home Neglect Injuries

One of the primary points in the report is this: During the pandemic, many nursing homes across the US had a myopic focus on preventing COVID-19 infections and improving infection-control measures, which resulted in a lack of attention elsewhere. That myopic focus, coupled with the ongoing problem of understaffing, meant that many other injuries unrelated to the coronavirus but resulting from nursing home neglect when unnoticed and untreated.

Prior to the start of 2020, nobody was considering the ways in which a global pandemic could impact a senior’s risk of suffering injuries as a result of nursing home abuse and neglect. Yet the coronavirus pandemic has, for many older adults, made things worse. According to a recent article in MarketWatch, the pandemic has meant that “many older adults have become more vulnerable” and are suffering harm that otherwise could have been prevented.

 
Whether you currently live in a nursing home in San Bernardino County or have an elderly loved one in a skilled nursing facility in Southern California, it is essential to learn more about elder abuse risks during the pandemic and what can be done to mitigate them.

 
Facilities Refusing to Allow Residents to Reenter

Although nursing homes in Orange County and throughout Southern California are largely focused on issues pertaining to COVID-19 infections and methods of preventing illness and death among residents and patients, it is important to remember that long-term care facilities still have other duties when it comes to resident safety. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities in California need to provide a certain level of care to patients in order to prevent injuries from happening solely as a result of inadequate care. Many injuries in nursing homes happen because a resident tried to get out of bed herself after being unable to reach a nurse, or a resident fell because a staff member was not providing proper observation.

 
To be clear, many injuries in nursing homes do not result from bad intentions, but rather from a lack of care often due to inadequate staffing. As many staff members call in sick with COVID-19 and staff members are swamped with coronavirus mitigation duties, more residents could be at risk of a fall-related injury. The following are five things to know about falls in nursing homes.

 
Adults Aged 65 and Older Fall More Often Than You Might Think

If you have an elderly loved one in a San Diego County nursing home or in a skilled nursing facility elsewhere in California, it is important to know about liability for COVID-19 infections and what facilities are doing—or not doing, in many cases—to prevent infections. According to a recent article in Time Magazine, nursing homes across the country are seeking immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits, arguing that patients and their families cannot allege nursing home neglect as a result of the spread of coronavirus. An article in The New York Times recently explained how California nursing homes, along with facilities in places like New York and New Jersey, are being encouraged to take COVID-19 patients from hospitals, which many are doing in order to increase profits.

 
What do you need to know about nursing home claims and what it would mean if facilities were immune from lawsuits?

 
Nursing Home Neglect Claims Tied to COVID-19 Infections

When you have an elderly parent in a Los Angeles County nursing home or another loved one receives daily care in a skilled nursing facility in Southern California, it is essential to understand the rights that an older adult has under California law, and how a dangerous facility can be held accountable for resident injuries. Given that so many nursing home residents are contracting COVID-19 as a result of poor infection-control measures and policies in nursing homes across the country, and many seniors are dying from COVID-19 infections in California skilled nursing facilities, it is important for all Los Angeles County residents to know more about protections under state law.

The primary law that protects nursing home residents and provides a remedy for safety violations is the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (EADACPA). We want to provide you with some frequently asked questions and answers about this law.

What is the EADACPA Designed to Do?

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