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Articles Posted in California Department of Public Health

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.

Earlier this month, the Sacramento Bee ran a story that exposed the lack of oversight from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) when it comes to nursing home abuse allegations. What is going on? According to the article, the CDPH is “weighed down by a backlog of more than 11,000 open complaints” with “no clear path to dig its way out.”

Evidence of this serious problem became cID-10045437lear after an audit report was released toward the end of October 2014. In short, the CDPH appears to have failed elderly adults in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities by failing to manage its investigations of elder abuse complaints received.

Numerous Problems “Up and Down the State”

Have you been urged to place your elderly parent in hospice care despite the fact that he or she is not terminally ill? Hospice care is intended for patients who are terminally ill and for whom there is no cure. So why are healthy older adults ending up in hospice? A recent article in the Washington Post revealed that this phenomenon might be a larger problem than we’d like to think. Indeed, over the 2000s, the newspaper reported that the “number of ‘hospice survivors’ in the United States has risen dramatically.” What’s going on? According to the article, “hospice companies earn more by recruiting patients who aren’t actually dying,” since “healthier patients are more profitable because they require fewer visits and stay enrolled longer.”

Hospice.jpgIf you have been pressured to move a parent into hospice care, your elderly loved one might not receive the kind of treatment she or he needs. For-profit companies shouldn’t be allowed to take advantage of older adults. Indeed, we might think of these actions as another form of elder abuse. It’s important to speak to an experienced elder law attorney about your options.

Hospice Discharge Statistics

Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay a settlement of more than $2.2 billion connected to “accusations that it improperly promoted the antipsychotic drug Risperdal to older adults,” according to a recent article in the New York Times. This resolution actually represents the third-largest pharmaceutical settlement in our country, and it’s one of the largest agreements in “a string of recent cases involving the marketing of antipsychotic and antiseizure drugs to older dementia patients.” The federal government is working to ensure that pharmaceutical companies are held liable for bad drugs and bad marketing.

Pills%20Credit.jpgThis news is only the latest in many reports concerning elderly dementia patients and the varied problems of antipsychotic drugs. Indeed, the California Department of Public Health and the Department of Health Care Services have been working to reduce the “off-label” use of antipsychotic medications in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities across the state. Experienced California elder justice advocates have been handling cases involving the use of antipsychotic medications, and the dedicated lawyers at the Walton Law Firm can discuss your claim with you today.

What is Risperdal?

“I could not protect the public any longer. There was just a failure to protect the most vulnerable people in our state from abuse and neglect” said (former) investigator for the California Department of Public Health (DPH) investigator Marc Parker of his retirement from the agency that is supposed to certify and regulate California’s nursing homes.

KQED and the Center for Investigative Reporting has an excellent article out today about the failures on the part of the state to investigate and prosecute allegations of neglect and abuse in thousands of California nursing facilities.

DPH.jpgThose of us who prosecute civil cases on behalf of these victims – or, sadly, their heirs – have been experiencing this for years. We all have had cases where the DPH letter arrives saying that the complaint “could not be substantiated” despite overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing. Or the investigator finds some small (and usually irrelevant) “deficiency” when ask to investigate a clearly suspicious death. Or telling the victim’s families to be patient, but knowing full well that the likely hood of a citation against the home, even in the strong cases, was highly unlikely.

Earlier this month, the California Department of Public Health fined a Sacramento nursing home for the choking death of a patient. The nursing home received an $80,000 fine after Mary Yip, an 86-year-old patient with swallowing difficulties, “choked on a piece of meat during a lunchtime outing with staff members,” according to the Sacramento Bee.

Choking deaths are very serious violations for which many nursing facilities in our state have been fined. Just a few months ago, we told you about a San Diego care center that received a $100,000 fine from the State of California. Nursing homes in Los Angeles County and Orange County have also been fined for choking deaths. If your elderly loved one has experienced nursing home abuse or neglect, it’s important to speak to an experienced nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.


Details of the Serious Violation

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) cited the San Diego care facility Villa Rancho Bernardo Care Center (Center) for inadequate elder care, which resulted in the death of one of its residents. According to a story from NBC San Diego, the Center received the most severe penalty under state law, a “AA” citation that is accompanied by a $100,000 fine from the State of California. This isn’t the first time the Center has been cited by the CDPH. In fact, a previous citation occurred only a few years ago. Is this care center safe for patients?

What Led to the Recent Citation?

The Center had specific physician’s orders for a 61-year-old dementia patient’s diet. The patient had been admitted to the facility with a diagnosis of dementia, and his physician’s orders later stated that he had cognitive/behavior impairment (or decreased mental status).


A skilled nursing facility in Montrose was indicted for criminal abuse and neglect after a committed suicide by discharging a fire extinguisher down his throat. A grand jury indictment asserts that the facility, Wellness Centre, and its former administrator were complicit in the death of 34-year-old patient Charles Morrill. It was the third time Morrill attempted suicide.

“On and between January 22, 2009 and February 28, in the County of Los Angeles, the said Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing Wellness Center and Phyllis Paver did, under circumstances and conditions likely to produce great bodily hard and death, knowingly and willfully cause and permit Charles Morrill, a dependent adult, to suffer, and inflicted theron, unjustifiable physical pain and mental suffering and, having the care and custody of said person, willfully caused and permitted him to be placed in a situation in which his health was endangered, and knew and reasonably should have known that said person, Charles Morrill, was a dependent adult.”

The indictment came after an investigation by the California Department of Public Health, which had a long history with the facility. Glendale Police told reporters that over the last few years it had received numerous calls about residents wandering away from the facility, 911 hang ups, and accusations of assaults at the nursing home.

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The Goldstar Rehabilitation and Nursing Center was issued an AA citation by the California Department of Public Health after investigators concluded that substandard care led to the choking death of one of its residents. According to reports, the 60-year-old resident, who was on a doctor-ordered soft diet, died after choking on solid food during dinner. The man choked for 10 -15 minutes before passing out. Nursing staff was unable to revive him.

The Department of Public Health has the statutory authority to levy fines against nursing facilities for acts of abuse, neglect, or otherwise substandard care. State citations imposed are categorized as Class B, A or AA, depending on the severity of the wrongdoing. The fines range from $100 to $1,000 for Class B up to $100,000 for Class AA. The citation class and amount of the fine depend upon the significance and severity of the established violation.

California Assembly Bill 313 would require nursing homes and residential care facilities to notify all residents and family members if the license of the facility is in jeopardy of being revoked. The bill, authored by Assemblyman Bill Monning, would require written notification “when its license is in jeopardy from serious deficiencies, revocation or suspension, or court proceedings.” The bill was instigated by events at a Santa Cruz nursing home were residents and those responsible for them were not given adequate notification before the license was revoked.

Source: theCalifornian.com

The nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at the Walton Law Firm represent seniors and dependent adults who have been victims of physical abuse in the nursing home, and those who have been neglected or received substandard care. Call (866) 607-1325 or complete on online for for a free and confidential consultation.

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