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Articles Posted in Elder Care

Whether you have an elderly loved one in a Riverside County nursing home or in a skilled nursing facility elsewhere in Southern California, it is critical to be aware of signs and symptoms of elder abuse and neglect. While family members and friends should not have to be the ones to spot warning signs of abuse or neglect, they are often the only ones who do. This kind of problem, highlighting the negligence of various facilities, is often particularly notable in situations in which seniors at nursing homes ultimately require emergency treatment at a hospital due to neglect at the nursing home. 

Indeed, according to a recent article in Reuters, a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicated that “California did not ensure that nursing facilities reported potential abuse or neglect of Medicaid beneficiaries transferred from nursing facilities to hospital emergency rooms.”

Nursing Homes are Supposed to Report Abuse and Neglect

Before anyone in San Bernardino County had ever heard the term COVID-19 or thought about the possibility of a global pandemic caused by a coronavirus, individuals and families worried about the safety of Southern California nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. For years, skilled nursing facilities across the state have been cited for nursing home abuse and neglect, and people with aging parents have struggled to feel comfortable with the health and safety records of many nursing homes. Further, many serious safety violations occur at nursing homes with no documented history of abuse, suggesting that it is critical to go beyond ratings and safety histories when selecting a skilled nursing facility. But has the COVID-19 pandemic made such decisions even more difficult, and potentially impossible? 

According to a recent article in The New York Times, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the failure of nursing homes across the country to keep elderly residents safe and healthy, has led many families to rethink nursing home care altogether. Indeed, “even with vaccines, many older people and their relatives are weighing how to manage at-home care for those who can no longer live independently.”

Nursing Home Occupancy Rates are Down

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been difficult and often impossible for family members to visit with elderly loved ones at Orange County nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. As more seniors in these facilities are vaccinated, and family members are vaccinated, too, visits are becoming possible again. For anyone who is visiting with an elderly loved one in a skilled nursing facility in Southern California, it is critical to know that the pandemic, while it has indeed drawn attention to problematic issues surrounding infection-control measures, has not lessened the effects of other forms of nursing home abuse and neglect. As such, it will be essential to remain vigilant when you visit the facility. 

If you do suspect nursing home abuse or neglect in an Orange County facility, you should know the steps to take.

Make Sure You Know the Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse and Neglect

Nobody should have to learn that an elderly loved one has suffered injuries while living in a San Bernardino County nursing home. Yet injuries and deaths resulting from nursing home abuse and neglect happen much more frequently than most of us would like to think about. When an older adult does suffer serious injuries, or dies as a result of those injuries, it is critical to begin working with a San Bernardino County nursing home abuse lawyer to file a claim against the responsible parties. 

Yet how do you determine who is responsible for a senior’s injuries? Does liability differ when injuries arise out of unintentional passive neglect as opposed to intentional physical or psychological abuse? Every case has its own set of circumstances, so it is essential to determine how to file your claim with help from a lawyer. In the meantime, we want to provide you with general information about some of the parties who could be liable for injuries in a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Southern California.

Nursing Home Staff Members

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

The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for Los Angeles County nursing home residents and for nursing home residents throughout the state of California. Older adults in nursing homes are particularly susceptible to severe COVID-19 infections, and many facilities do not have the type of infection-control measures in place that can effectively prevent the spread of the coronavirus, not to mention the fact that many of those facilities are understaffed and cannot properly serve the patients who are suffering from serious infections. 

According to a recent article in Roll Call, the pandemic and its effects on nursing home residents has led policymakers and safety advocates to seek significant changes to nursing home safety in order to prevent avoidable injuries and deaths caused by nursing home negligence.

Senior Safety Advocates Seek More Funding and Long-Term Changes for Nursing Home Safety

Nursing home residents in Orange County have a wide variety of rights under California law, which are designed to protect nursing home residents from elder abuse and neglect. Much too often, seniors in skilled nursing facilities in Southern California are still subject to poor care and intentional abuse, and many suffer serious or life-threatening injuries as a result. However, it is still important for older adults and their families to know what their rights are under California law. 

Even if the existence of nursing home residents’ rights are insufficient to prevent nursing home abuse or neglect from happening in the first place, recognizing rights and understanding when they have been violated may allow a senior or her family to take action by filing a claim against the facility or a particular healthcare provider. The following are examples of the resident rights in Orange County nursing homes.

General Residents’ Rights in California Nursing Homes

Nursing homes in San Bernardino County and throughout the state of California have a duty to patients when it comes to infection-control measures and preventing the spread of COVID-19. Yet many facilities have not provided the type of protection that is necessary for seniors, resulting in serious and deadly COVID-19 infections. When a nursing home fails to provide the type of protection to seniors that is necessary to avoid infection with a deadly virus, the nursing home may be liable for negligence. According to a recent report in Becker’s Hospital Review, hospitals and nursing homes across California are facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines for “lax coronavirus protection.” 

Lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

One of the most important infection-control measures for nursing homes is providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff. PPE helps to prevent nursing home staff members from contracting the virus in a nursing home, but also from spreading it to patients within the facility. According to the article, the California Occupational Safety and Health division is currently proposing more than $77,000 in fines for five skilled nursing facilities and hospitals in the state for failing to provide adequate PPE.

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