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Articles Posted in California Department of Public Health

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.

The California Department of Public Health issued its most severe citation to a California nursing home following the death of a 97-year-old resident. According to reports, the Gramercy Court nursing home patient fell out of her bed and onto the floor while a nursing assistant had her back to the patient. The resident suffered a spinal injury and died a short time later.

State investigators said the fall could have been prevented if the bed rail, which was ordered, had been in place. As a result, a AA citation was issued against the facility, and a $90,000 fine assessed. The maximum fine allowable under California law is $100,000.

To read the entire AA citation, CLICK HERE (.pdf).

A beleaguered nursing home operated by the Motion Picture and Television Fund was fined by the California Department of Public Health for failing to prevent a serious injury to an 87-year-old resident. The resident was injured in May of last year when, while transferring the resident with a mechanized lift, the resident slid out of the lift and fell to the floor, causing a wound so large that it revealed her cranium.

After its investigation, the DPH concluded that the nursing home failed to follow a plan of care that was designed to prevent the resident, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, from falling. The home was issued an “A” citation and a fine of $7,500.

The citation comes at a time when the nursing home operators, a charity, have decided to close down the home. Currently the home has only 54 remaining long term care residents, which remains open only after protests from current residents and their families.

A Los Angeles area nursing home received the state’s most severe penalty (short of losing its license) yesterday when it received a $100,000 fine for neglectful care that resulted in the death of a resident. The nursing facility also received an AA citation.

The case involved the misplacement of a feeding tube, which is a type of case the Walton Law Firm has handled on several prior occasions. According to reports, the 84-year-old resident was admitted to the nursing home in early 2008 to rehabilitate a hip fracture. He was noted as having no problems chewing or swallowing. Because of a weight loss, his physician ordered nasogastric tube feedings.

When staff at the nursing home inserted the tube through the man’s nose, it placed it in the man’s lung, not his stomach. When feedings began, the lungs filled with feeding material, and the man became sickened immediately. Three days later he was dead from aspiration pneumonia.

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