Articles Posted in Los Angeles Nursing Home

ian-schneider-95541-300x200How much decision-making power does a Chula Vista nursing home resident get when it comes to his or her quality of care? According to a recent article from Kaiser Health News, seniors in Southern California and across the country may be able to have more autonomy through shifts in federal regulations. As the article explains, around 1.4 million seniors living in nursing homes “now can be more involved in their care under the most wide-ranging revision of federal rules for such facilities in 25 years.”

What does it mean for older adults in nursing homes to have more autonomy over their schedules and care? Could such shifts in care perhaps reduce the rate of nursing home abuse in Southern California and throughout the country?

Shift in Federal Rules Focuses on “Person-Centered Care”

Fb9bc088db57af5328b8a36aa37a8e6e_article-300x169If your elderly loved one resides in a San Diego nursing home and requires antibiotics for a bacterial infection, can you trust that your loved one is receiving the proper medication? According to a report from Kaiser Health News, “antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly to ailing nursing home residents up to 75 percent of the time,” based on data gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When seniors are not provided with the right antibiotics, the antibiotics can lose their effectiveness, leading those same seniors to develop serious and life-threatening conditions at a later date when those antibiotics no longer function as they should. Do these medication errors rise to the level of nursing home abuse or neglect? What can you do to help your elderly parent to avoid contracting a superbug at a nursing facility in Southern California?

Learning More About the Rise of Superbugs in Nursing Homes

As the article explains, just about one year ago, the CDC advised nursing homes across the country that they needed to take immediate action “to protect more than 4 million residents from hard-to-treat superbugs that are growing in number and resist antibiotics.” Elderly people in California nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to superbugs because their immune systems are not as strong as they once were. As the CDC has emphasized, “one way to keep older Americans safe from these superbugs is to make sure antibiotics are used appropriately all the time and everywhere, particularly in nursing homes.”

ydigmrc7xsc-christopher-300x225Has an elderly loved one mentioned a fall-related injury in a nursing home or assisted-living facility in San Diego County? Or, have you learned that an elderly parent suffered a fall while under the care of a nursing home staff? Falls often result from nursing home neglect, and it is important to ensure that our elderly loved ones are safe from preventable accidents and injuries. According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, fall-related injuries are becoming a more serious concern in California and throughout the country. One researcher in particular, Jon Pynoos, emphasizes that falls really are preventable. What should you know about falls among the elderly and learning about new methods of prevention?

Paying Greater Attention to Falls Among the Elderly

As the article notes, about “one-third of seniors over 65 fall each year, causing more than 2.5 million injuries treated in ERs, leading to 734,000 hospitalization and more than 30,200 deaths, with an annual price tag exceeding $40 billion.” Those rates will only increase as the U.S. population continues to age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC estimates that deaths from falls among the elderly will rise to around 100,000 per year—a number that is four times the current rate of fall-related fatalities. Given these numbers, both government and private funding sources to study fall prevention have helped to make new research possible.

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

LAFD_ambulanceWhen an elderly loved one in San Diego requires nearly constant medical care, many family members are at their most concerned when that loved one has to be hospitalized. However, according to a recent article in California Healthline, one of the most dangerous periods for elderly patients actually starts after they leave the hospital, and perhaps not for the reasons you might think. The problem is not that the elderly person does not receive sufficient care after a hospital visit, but rather that the patient failed to receive proper care while in the healthcare facility. Does this rise to the level of elder neglect?

Problems Associated with Poor Transitional Care

The time between leaving the hospital and receiving care either from a home caregiver or staff members at a nursing home in Southern California is known as a period of “transitional care.” As Alicia Arbaje, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine explains, “poor transitional care is a huge, huge issue for everybody, but especially for older people with complex needs.” While “the most risky transition,” Arbaje explains, “is from hospital to home with the additional need for home care services,” since it is the type of situation about which the least is known, injuries resulting from poor transitional care can also happen when the patient goes from a hospital to a local nursing home.

799px-Alcohol_bottles_photographed_while_drunkHow broad is the term nursing home neglect? For instance, when a senior has a problem with drug or alcohol abuse and lives in a nursing home or an assisted-living facility in Southern California, does the facility have a duty to prevent the senior from obtaining potentially harmful substances? And if the facility knows about a history of drug or alcohol abuse and does not take precautions to limit a senior resident’s access to alcohol or prescription drugs, can the nursing home be responsible for injuries that occur? According to a fact sheet from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), it can be difficult to recognize signs and symptoms of substance abuse among older adults.

Should we be able to expect that facilities will look into signs and symptoms of substance abuse among elderly residents? And if a facility in San Diego already knows that one of its residents has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, what must it do differently in other to avoid allegations of nursing home negligence?

Difficulty Identifying Senior Residents with Substance Abuse Problems

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.

Vr_(14798594120)A recent article in Reuters Health reported that one out of every five nursing home residents that suffers verbal or physical nursing home abuse is not enduring that abuse at the hands of one of the staff members at a facility. Rather, about 20% of all verbal and physical nursing home abuse cases involve violence committed by another resident. While these cases may result from serious issues of nursing home neglect and understaffing (and the general failure to properly monitor patients in a facility), a recent article from NPR and KQED News, a new virtual reality device is helping seniors in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities to remain calmer and to, perhaps, live fuller lives.

Can such technology help to prevent elder abuse when it is perpetrated by other residents?

Virtual Reality Improving the Lives of Seniors

red-cross-29930_1280We often hear news about instances of nursing home abuse and neglect in which an elderly patient dies after being taken to a hospital after it is much too late. Particularly in cases of elder neglect, a patient may require care at a hospital. However, if a facility is understaffed and does not call for an ambulance in time, an elderly patient may not receive the care he or she ultimately needs. What if those patients could be rushed to a geriatric emergency department equipped to handle specific senior medical issues, including those related to elder neglect? According to a recent article in The San Diego Union-Tribune, a geriatric ER will soon be coming to UCSD and will provide specialized care to elderly residents in Southern California.

Complex Medical Needs Among the Elderly

When and where will the new geriatric emergency unit appear? It is currently in the planning stages, but the ER will become part of the Thornton Hospital at UC San Diego through an $11.8 million grant provided by the Gary and Mary West Foundation. According to the article, this emergency department “will be the first in the region to focus solely on seniors,” which is an important fact given that more Californians are reaching old age. The “complex medical needs” of the elderly, even when abuse or neglect is not a factor, “are expected to strain available resources as the baby boom generation reaches retirement age.”

file3451272140532If you live in a nursing home, do you have the same rights as a tenant who rents a home from a landlord? According to a recent report from NPR, numerous nursing home residents who live the facility for a temporary inpatient hospital visit return to the nursing home only to learn that they have been evicted. As the article makes clear, this pattern results each year in thousands of nursing home residents finding themselves without a place to live, and that often leads to less-than-ideal situations that can involve elder abuse. Currently, federal law protects nursing home residents from these kinds of evictions, but as the article underscores, “those rules are rarely enforced by the states.” As such, California nursing home residents have decided to file claims against the state of California.

Plaintiffs File Claims Over Nursing Home Evictions

According to the NPR report, when nursing home residents cannot return to their rooms at the nursing facility, they are left with very expensive hospital bills and often the inability to receive the specific kind of care provided in a nursing home. For instance, one plaintiff who was evicted from his nursing home is currently living in his hospital room at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento. At the end of May 2015, his nursing home sent him to the hospital to receive treatment for pneumonia. However, once the pneumonia had been treated, the nursing home would not readmit him. As such, he has been living at the hospital for about 260 days now. The financial costs are very high: Medicaid is paying “about 2.5 times what his nursing home cost.”