New Study Addresses Wildfire Hazards and California Nursing Home Safety

Are California nursing homes in San Diego County prepared to keep residents safe in the event of a wildfire? According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, nursing homes in California where wildfires are a risk or ill-prepared for these emergencies and for other emergency situations that may arise. More specifically, nursing homes in areas that are likely to be affected by wildfires are often out of compliance with the emergency preparedness standards required by Medicare, putting residents throughout the facilities at risk of a wide range of injuries in the event of an emergency situation. What do you need to know about the study and its implications for nursing home neglect and injuries in nursing homes in Southern California? Our San Diego nursing home neglect lawyers can say more. 

Details of the Recent Nursing Home Emergency Preparedness Study

The article stems from an analysis conducted by researchers at Yale University. As background to the study, the authors indicated that they were interested in assessing the “relationship between the risk of exposure to environmental hazards and the emergency preparedness of nursing homes” since this relationship is not well known or well studied.

How did the researchers go about conducting the study? They looked at data from California nursing homes certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and they looked specifically at nursing homes that were “located within 5 km of a wildfire risk area, as informed by a field-tested model.” They analyzed data from 1,182 nursing homes and assessed emergency preparedness compliance issues at those facilities between January 2017 and January 2019. Based on those dates, you can see that the study does not reflect emergency preparedness compliance issues during the COVID-19 pandemic since pandemic-related concerns at California nursing homes did not begin until 2020. 

Findings from the Study: Links Between Wildfire Risk and Lack of Emergency Preparedness

The researchers determined that nearly half of the nursing homes analyzed in the study — 495 facilities — were “exposed.” Of those facilities, the researchers found that they each “had at least one emergency preparedness deficiency” compared with the facilities that were not “exposed.” To be clear, exposed facilities are those at risk of wildfire harm. In short, the researchers found a seeming connection between a facility’s wildfire risk in California and a lack of emergency preparedness measures.

According to the article in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, here is how the researchers summed it up: “California nursing homes at heightened risk of exposure to wildfires have poorer emergency preparedness than unexposed facilities,” which suggests that “nursing home management and staff may be unaware of important environmental risks to which their facilities [and their residents] are exposed.” Nursing homes that fail to take precautions for various hazards and risks that could result in resident injuries at facilities ultimately could be liable when injuries occur due to negligence or neglect. Indeed, if a nursing home or assisted living facility should be aware of certain hazards but fails to account for them, they can be liable when harm results from exposure to those hazards.

Contact a San Diego County Nursing Home Neglect Attorney

If you have questions about filing a nursing home negligence claim, you should get in touch with one of the experienced San Diego nursing home neglect attorneys at our firm. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.


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