Our office opens regular office hours during COVID-19 Emergency.

Articles Posted in California Department of Public Health

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.

Nursing homes in Riverside County and throughout California and the country are facing lawsuits related to COVID-19 infections and deaths among residents. Many nursing homes are arguing that they could not have taken any additional steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, yet skilled nursing facilities are required to have particular infection-control measures in place.

 
In fact, in early April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued guidance to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities about the types of infection-control methods that would be necessary “to keep patients and residents safe.” The guidance helps to provide clarity for the types of actions (or inactions) for which a nursing home or assisted-living facility may be liable if a patient contracts COVID-19 and suffers a serious infection or dies as a result of that infection.

 
Actions to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 at Nursing Homes and Assisted-Living Facilities

markus-spiske-3_SvgDspSTE-unsplash-copy-300x200Nursing home patients in San Diego County and throughout the U.S. are particularly vulnerable to infections and illness as a result of age and underlying conditions, even when the world is not experiencing a coronavirus pandemic. However, in this moment of the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, news reports across the country are reflecting the ways in which nursing home residents are uniquely vulnerable to the virus and, in particular, to death as a result of contracting it. As such, many nursing homes have limited how visitors can see their loved ones at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in order to prevent the spread of the virus among the elderly. At a moment when residents of California’s nursing homes are especially vulnerable to illness, the Trump Administration announced plans to relax federal oversight of nursing homes. 

According to a recent article in The New York Times, the Trump Administration’s proposal “would loosen federal rules meant to control infections, just as the coronavirus rips through nursing homes.” The following is some information you should know about plans to relax federal oversight of nursing homes and what that could mean for elderly residents.

Rule Changes Were Proposed Last Summer

https://www.nursinghomeabuselawyerblog.com/files/2017/03/600px-Pink_check_tick.svg_-300x300.pngVolunteer senior ombudsman programs are helping to ensure that nursing home patients receive care tailored to their needs, in San Diego County and across the state of California. According to a recent article in the Moorpark Acorn, these volunteer ombudsman programs in certain parts of the state might actually serving as a check for parts of the elder care industry that are not as attuned to the individual needs of patients. The article explores the specific volunteer senior ombudsman program in Ventura County that is currently overseen by the county’s Long Term Care Services. As of early 2017, the ombudsman program has advocated for the needs and rights of about 8,500 patients in Southern California’s assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, other facilities.

Could more ombudsman programs be a partial solution when it comes to preventing nursing home abuse and neglect?

What is an Ombudsman?

Sitting_Room_At_The_Braeside_Home_In_Preston_Ontario,_1947_(5933797538)According to a recent report from U.S. News & World Report, nursing homes in California, including in San Diego, may rank better than facilities in other parts of the country. However, just because a nursing home makes the list for having the highest number of high-quality nursing homes, according to a recent article in Senior Housing News, that fact alone does not necessarily correspond to the state having a particularly high percentage of high-quality facilities. If you have a loved one who currently resides in a nursing home in Southern California, or if your aging parent soon may be moving into an assisted-living facility, it is important to understand what nursing home rankings do (and do not) mean.

What can we learn about the quality of California’s nursing homes from the report in U.S. News & World Report? What other issues do we need to take into consideration when evaluating the quality of a particular nursing home and the risks of nursing home abuse?

Rankings for High-Quality American Nursing Homes

file3451272140532How often does the California Department of Public Health fine nursing homes and assisted-living facilities for elderly patient injuries and deaths? When facilities do receive significant fines as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, are those fines sufficient to protect other residents in the future? According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Daily News, the California Department of Public Health issued a $75,000 fine for a Southern California nursing home due to neglect resulting in a patient’s death.

Fatal Injuries Caused By Nursing Home Neglect in Canoga Park

As the article explains, Topanga Terrace, a nursing home in Canoga Park, was issued a $75,000 fine “after staff there failed to monitor a resident who kept removing his own breathing tube, resulting in death.” The patient needed a tracheostomy tube in order to breathe following a surgery in 2013. In addition to the use of the tracheostomy tube, the patient also “suffered from multiple illnesses including dementia, chronic respiratory failure, and tuberculosis.” Despite his medical needs, however, the facility did not have a treatment plan that included methods to prevent or deter the patient from removing his breathing tube.

According to a recent report from CBS Sacramento, a California court made clear that “health officials may no longer hide from public view all the relevant details about citations issued to hospitals and nursing homes.” To be sure, the California Supreme court unanimously decided that “only the names of patients may be omitted when the California Department of Public health releases records describing the sanctions it imposed on long-term care facilities for providing improper care or endangering clients.”

Will this decision help to address issues of nursing home abuse and elder neglect across the state?

Background of the Center for Investigative Reporting Case

video_surveillance_lawsMany Californians have loved ones in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. While we want to put our trust in these facilities and to believe that they are treating our elderly parents and relatives properly, many of us worry about the risks of nursing home abuse and neglect. According to a recent article from NBC San Diego, local families want to install cameras in patient bedrooms, “but they are facing a roadblock from the state.”

Documenting Elder Neglect in Southern California

Why wouldn’t the state want to use video cameras in patient rooms to monitor for elder abuse or neglect? According to Joe Balbas, the co-owner of Vista Gardens, “elderly patients in nursing facilities should have the option of having security cameras in their room[s].” Vista Gardens is a residential facility for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Balbas believes that installing cameras in rooms—at the request of patients and their families—could help to prevent serious injuries.

Amidst news reports of elder abuse and neglect in assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) across the state, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has been criticized for its failure to investigate. What did it fail to investigate, exactly? Elderly patients and their families argue that they reported nursing home abuse incidents to the CDPH, yet they contend that the department didn’t investigate those complaints in a timely manner and failed to properly fine the responsible facilities.

budgetcalculatorMore Funding for Elder Abuse Investigations

According to a recent press release from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), Governor Jerry Brown has proposed a budget for the coming fiscal year that would “add more than $30 million and about 260 positions for the Licensing & Certification Division of the California Department of Public Health.” Yet, the most surprising part of the new budget isn’t merely about licensing and certification. Rather, as the CANHR suggests, it’s about taking complaints about nursing home abuse investigations more seriously.

Contact Information