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Articles Tagged with California nursing home abuse lawyer

When families in Los Angeles County or elsewhere in Southern California are seeking information about nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities in the state, they often turn to the CMS star rating system and to publicly available information about safety violations. Yet according to a recent report in The New York Times, some of the worst offenses at nursing homes across the country might not be reported to the public. Why are serious nursing home abuse and neglect injuries hidden? The report suggests that a “secretive appeals process” prevents the public from getting the full picture. Our Los Angeles County nursing home abuse attorneys can tell you more. 

Serious Injuries are Not Factored Into the Star Rating System

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publishes information about nursing homes through its star rating system, which is supposed to provide the public with information about recent safety violations at nursing homes and harms suffered by elderly residents. Yet the recent report, which stems from a New York Times investigation, indicates that “at least 2,700 . . . dangerous incidents were not factored into the rating system.”

Does the type of corporation, entity, or individual that owns a nursing home in San Bernardino County affect the likelihood that the facility will be a place where nursing home abuse or neglect occurs? A recent article in Market Watch highlights the particular dangers of facilities that have been bought by private-equity firms and that may not be putting patients first. Indeed, according to that article, residents at many of these facilities face “a threat of imminent danger of death or bodily harm” as a result of poor care at various facilities and California’s failure to take action, according to a judge in the state. That judge described the state government’s failure to protect seniors in nursing homes as a “consistent, endemic, and statewide” problem centered on a lack of investigations into complaints and accusations that have been made against these facilities. 

That recent court decision in California highlights the need for state agencies to take more significant action to protect nursing home residents from injuries caused by abuse and neglect.

California Court Says Department of Public Health Has Failed Nursing Home Residents

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.

Risks of nursing home abuse and neglect in Orange County are often considered in connection with physical elder abuse. In other words, when seniors themselves or their family members are investigating histories of abuse at the facility or worrying about the possibility of injuries due to elder abuse, they are often thinking about physical abuse. Yet nursing home abuse and neglect can take many different forms, and it is essential to have a basic understanding of the signs and symptoms of each type of abuse that may occur in a skilled nursing facility. Today, our experienced Orange County nursing home abuse attorneys want to discuss the differences between physical abuse and psychological abuse in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Southern California. 

What is Physical Abuse in a Nursing Home?

Physical abuse in a nursing home or assisted-living facility can take many different forms, but it is often recognizable due to visible signs and symptoms of the abuse. For example, if a staff member at a facility strikes or physically assaults a nursing home resident, that resident may have visible bruises, cuts, or other related wounds. Likewise, if a staff member at a nursing home uses physical restraints on a patient unnecessarily, that nursing home patient may have visible signs of physical restraints, such as abrasions around the arms or legs. 

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

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

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