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Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

When you are helping an elderly parent or loved one to find a nursing home in Orange County or elsewhere in Southern California, the process of searching for a safe facility can be daunting. While nursing home rating systems exist, recent reports suggest that those ratings may not provide a full or accurate picture of safety violations at those facilities or actual staff-patient ratios. Information about safety violations can be more difficult to locate since that information is not easily obtained through a central repository, depending upon the location of the facility and other factors. How, then, can you identify a safe nursing home in Orange County? 

It is critical to keep in mind that any nursing home can be a site of nursing home abuse or neglect. Even facilities that have no histories of negligence can be the subject of a future investigation. Thus it is nearly impossible to know with absolute certainty that a facility is safe. However, there are certain factors you can look for in a facility to have more confidence in its treatment of and care for residents. Our Orange County nursing home abuse attorneys want to provide you with tips for choosing a facility.

Transparency in Policies

More patients in San Diego County nursing homes and across the country are being diagnosed with schizophrenia for reasons that are questionable and raise concerns about nursing home negligence, as a recent article in The New York Times suggested. But are some patients more affected than others, and is race playing a role? A follow-up report in The New York Times argues that Black residents are being disproportionately affected by these harmful diagnoses and subsequent administration of antipsychotic medications, suggesting that nursing home abuse has a clear racial dimension in these situations. Are schizophrenia diagnoses, and other issues in nursing homes, affecting Black residents more than other elderly patients at skilled nursing facilities? 

Black Nursing Home Residents are Diagnosed with Schizophrenia More Often

More nursing home residents are being diagnosed with schizophrenia so that the facilities can administer antipsychotic drugs to “difficult” patients, The New York Times has suggested. Indeed, since nursing home residents with schizophrenia can still readily be prescribed antipsychotic medications (whereas regulations have attempted to reduce the use of antipsychotics in other nursing home cases), there has been a surge in the number of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Since 2012, the number of elderly patients diagnosed with schizophrenia has “grown by 70%.” The article points to a new study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, which found that the “impact of this has been more severe on Black residents.”

Whether you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home in Los Angeles County or you currently reside in a nursing home yourself, you may be hesitant to report your concerns about nursing home abuse or neglect if you do not feel certain. In other words, it may be stressful to debate over whether or not to seek help from a Los Angeles County nursing home abuse attorney or to file a report with authorities if you do not feel 100% sure that the signs or symptoms you are witnessing rise to the level of abuse in a skilled nursing facility. Many people wonder if they are observing evidence of nursing home abuse and if they should report. When in doubt, it is always better to seek assistance than to allow a potentially abusive or neglectful situation to continue. We want to say more about identifying nursing home abuse in Southern California and what you should do if you need help. 

Know the Varied Signs and Symptoms of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

There are a wide variety of ways that nursing home abuse and neglect manifests itself since there are so many different forms that abuse can take. Nursing home abuse can be physical, psychological, emotional, and sexual in nature. Neglect can also be unintentional but can result in devastating consequences for which a facility can be liable. If you see any of the following signs or symptoms, you should seek advice from a nursing home abuse attorney who can help you. Reporting a case—even if it turns out there is a logical explanation for a senior’s symptoms—is better than a harmful situation continuing.

Nobody wants to think about risks of elder abuse and neglect at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Riverside County, yet older adults routinely suffer serious and fatal injuries as a result of nursing home abuse. It is critical for family members to recognize that nursing home abuse and neglect often go unreported. Thus, it is essential to be able to recognize the signs of various types of abuse, from symptoms of physical or emotional abuse to clear warning signs of passive neglect. Although each type of nursing abuse has its own particular signs and symptoms, you should always seek help anytime an elderly loved one exhibits changes in behavior or shows signs of physical harm that do not have a logical explanation. 

Why does nursing home abuse go unreported so frequently? Our Riverside County nursing home abuse attorneys want to discuss some of the common reasons that abuse and neglect are not reported at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Southern California.

Fear of Further Abuse or Retaliation 

Monitoring an elderly loved one’s safety and well-being in a San Diego County nursing home can be exhausting, and it is not a role that friends and family members should have to fill. However, given that nursing home abuse and neglect is unfortunately common in Southern California skilled nursing facilities. As such, it is often necessary to learn about the signs and symptoms of various forms of nursing home abuse and neglect when you have an elderly parent or other older relative who lives in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. Yet it can be difficult to know what you should do if you are worried about abuse when you see potential signs of negligence, abuse, or neglect. Should you report the abuse? Should you investigate further yourself? Should you seek advice from a San Diego County nursing home abuse attorney? 

Many people feel uncomfortable initiating an investigation of any type in the event they are mistaken about abuse. Yet it is critical to remember that it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to addressing concerns about nursing home abuse and neglect in Southern California. Generally speaking, you should not decide between reporting the abuse to authorities and initiating a lawsuit. Instead, you should be thinking about reporting your concerns and seeking advice from an attorney who can help.

Seeking Advice From a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in San Diego County

One way in which nursing home residents in San Bernardino can suffer serious injuries during the summer months is dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other hyperthermia conditions. While many people assume that such injuries or conditions may be common during the particularly warm summer months in Southern California, especially when there is a heat wave, yet no residents at skilled nursing facilities in California should suffer from any of these heat-related conditions simply because the outdoor temperatures are setting records. To be sure, nursing homes in California must ensure that residents are safe and are not subject to extreme temperatures that can cause serious harm.   

If a nursing home fails to provide cooler temperatures for residents during the summer months, can that nursing home be held accountable for injuries? Nursing homes certainly may be liable in certain situations where residents sustain hyperthermia-related injuries as a result of nursing home neglect.

Nursing Home Neglect and Hyperthermia

Nursing home residents in San Diego County and throughout Southern California deserve a high quality of care, and they deserve to know when nursing homes have a history of safety violations. For nursing home residents and their families, it should also be possible to rely on the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to conduct proper and timely nursing home inspections, and to attend to complaints of abuse or neglect quickly. Yet as a recent report from KPBS underscores, the CDPH “has long been criticized for failing to properly regulate nursing homes.”

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted particular problems at skilled nursing facilities and the need for improved care and oversight. Yet the CDPH does not seem to have learned any lessons from the pandemic. Indeed, as KPBS reports, the CDPH “is now considering an overhaul of its inspection program that advocates say will further erode the agency’s oversight.” 

New Plan Includes Potentially Problematic Advising Role

Over the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California were not subject to annual inspections by the California Department of Public Health because of the coronavirus lockdowns. In the last year, many commentators have worried that nursing home conditions—many of which were already poor—were likely to worsen given that friends and family members were not permitted to see nursing home residents and to be in a position to report signs of nursing home abuse and neglect, and that the California Department of Public Health would not be conducting inspections. 

Whether those concerns ultimately prove to be a reality may become clearer in the coming weeks and months as the California Department of Public Health resumes its annual inspections of nursing homes in the state, according to a recent report from KPBS.

State Will Resume Annual Nursing Home Inspections

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

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