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Articles Tagged with Los Angeles nursing home neglect

Nobody should ever have to fear that an elderly parent or relative is being subjected to physical or emotional abuse in a nursing home, or that a loved one is experiencing pain and suffering because of neglect in a skilled nursing facility. Given that nursing homes want to make money and want to keep patients at their facilities, it can often be difficult to get a straight answer from a facility when you have concerns about abuse or neglect. If you are concerned about abuse in your parent’s nursing home, what should you do?

Understand the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse in its Varied Forms

First, be sure you know some of the common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect, recognizing the nursing home negligence can take many different forms. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) cites some of the following as common indicators of abuse or neglect:

Choosing the best nursing home for an elderly loved one can be a difficult task. Although some information about nursing home ratings and previous safety violations can be located, recent reports suggest that information is often incomplete, or even worse, that it may be incorrect and misleading. Moreover, you cannot always know for certain whether a facility will pose injury risks to its residents based on its history. While a history of safety violations should certainly be a cause for concern, even skilled nursing facilities with clear records can be places where elderly residents sustain serious and life-threatening injuries. 

How can you know what to look for in a nursing home? More often than not, it is important to know what you should not see at a nursing home or assisted-living facility. According to U.S. News & World Report, it is more important than ever to be able to recognize red flags at nursing homes. The following are red flags that should raise concern.

High Rate of Infections and Deaths From COVID-19

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.”

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

Although nursing homes in Orange County and throughout Southern California are largely focused on issues pertaining to COVID-19 infections and methods of preventing illness and death among residents and patients, it is important to remember that long-term care facilities still have other duties when it comes to resident safety. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities in California need to provide a certain level of care to patients in order to prevent injuries from happening solely as a result of inadequate care. Many injuries in nursing homes happen because a resident tried to get out of bed herself after being unable to reach a nurse, or a resident fell because a staff member was not providing proper observation.

 
To be clear, many injuries in nursing homes do not result from bad intentions, but rather from a lack of care often due to inadequate staffing. As many staff members call in sick with COVID-19 and staff members are swamped with coronavirus mitigation duties, more residents could be at risk of a fall-related injury. The following are five things to know about falls in nursing homes.

 
Adults Aged 65 and Older Fall More Often Than You Might Think

rawpixel-1055781-unsplash-1-300x201A new federal nursing home bill is designed to prevent elder abuse, and it could help patients at facilities in San Bernardino County and throughout California. According to a recent article in Skilled Nursing News, the proposed legislation “seeks to protect individuals in nursing homes by implementing more stringent staffing protocols—including increased clinical hours and training—among other safety measures for residents.” Nursing home abuse and neglect often occurs as a result of understaffing. If a federal law were to mandate certain staffing numbers in facilities, rates of abuse and neglect could drop. 

Learning More About the Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act

The proposed law is known as the Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act. The bill is co-sponsored by two Democratic lawmakers, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Illinois) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut). It has support from lawmakers in both the House and Senate. In addition to requiring certain staffing levels for facilities receiving payments through Medicare and Medicaid, the bill would also make other changes to nursing home mandates. First, nursing staff members would be required to go through “heightened training” and would be subject to heightened “supervision obligations.” This requirement, in connection with the requirement for increased staff numbers, aims to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect by targeting staff at these facilities. Three registered nurses (RNs) would have to be on staff as “management personnel.”

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200If you are seeking out a nursing home for an elderly loved one in Orange County, it can be difficult to identify a facility that has a strong history of complying with safety regulations and providing quality care for patients. While you might think that a more expensive nursing home is less likely to engage in hiring practices that could lead to injuries caused by nursing home abuse or neglect, the price of a nursing home is not necessarily indicative of its quality. Even expensive nursing homes can have safety citations and histories of nursing home abuse injuries. According to a recent article in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has plans to update its “Nursing Home Compare” information to include an “abuse icon” that will alert potential patients and their families to dangerous histories of abuse and neglect. 

CMS Data Update Will Add an Abuse Icon

Currently, potential nursing home residents and their families can access information about nursing homes from the CMS “Nursing Home Compare” website. The website allows consumers to compare multiple nursing homes, assessing CMS ratings for those facilities and other important information that can illuminate whether the nursing home is a good fit. Yet that data can be difficult to navigate, especially for individuals and families who do not have experience analyzing detailed information about nursing homes. In order to make it easier to assess these facilities and to learn whether the facility has a recent history of abuse, CMS will be adding an “abuse alert icon.”

elias-castillo-658736-unsplash-copy-300x200In Oceanside and throughout much of Southern California, many nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are staffed by immigrants who are residing in the country under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times. What is the connection between nursing home staff members working in the country under TPS and risks of nursing home negligence? In short, as the article contends, the Trump administration’s targeting of immigrants could result in significant nursing home staff shortages in California in particular. As a report from the Urban Institute for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) explains, maintaining a staff-to-resident ratio at skilled nursing and assisted-living facilities is essential to prevent unintended nursing home neglect.

Trump Administration Ending TPS for Immigrants

The article in the Los Angeles Times explains that there are currently about 59,000 Haitians who are living and working in the U.S. under TPS, and many more thousands from other countries. TPS is a humanitarian program, and for Haitians it provided immigrants with the ability to live and work in the United States following the devastating earthquake in 2010. Yet many people living and working in the U.S. under TPS may need to leave the country given that “the Trump administration decided to end TPS for Haitians, giving them until July 22, 2019, to leave the country or face deportation.”

daan-stevens-282446-1-copy-300x191Do you have a loved one with dementia who resides in a nursing home in Carlsbad? If so, it is important to pay close attention to the risks of overmedication for dementia patients. While we have been discussing the problematic off-label use of antipsychotic drugs in patients with Alzheimer’s for quite some time, in more recent months we have not heard a lot about this issue. However, a lack of news coverage about an issue does not mean it has been resolved in a satisfactory manner. According to U.S. News & World Report, a recent report from Human Rights Watch found that “nursing homes unnecessarily give antipsychotic drugs to more than 179,000 residents per week.”

Off-Label Use of Antipsychotic Drugs Persists in American Nursing Homes

The Human Rights Watch report says that antipsychotic drugs continue to be administered to elderly nursing home residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia when those drugs have not been prescribed to treat their conditions. Potentially even more harmful, the report suggests, is that those patients are not giving “free and informed consent” to the off-label use of these antipsychotic drugs. These findings appeared in a human rights watch report entitled, “They Want Docile.”

alex-boyd-260321-copy-300x200When elderly residents of Valley Center or another area of San Diego County learn that the nursing home they live in has been the subject of elder abuse and neglect violations and is closing down, what ultimately happens to those residents? That question was posed recently in an article in The Sacramento Bee. While the article largely addresses the fates of nursing home residents at problematic facilities in Northern California, the lessons the article teaches are just as relevant for residents of Southern California. In brief, when dangerous nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities close due to allegations of elder abuse, elderly residents often end up in facilities in which they remain at risk for nursing home abuse and neglect.

Problematic Relocation of Elderly Residents

The article focuses on a recent string of nursing home closures in California, including facilities like Eagle Crest owned by Genesis HealthCare Inc. When facilities owned by this company closed, they sent notices designed to “assure[] family members in writing that loved ones could be accommodated at other company-owned homes.” Here is the issue: Many of the companies’ other facilities “have more serious problems and worse federal ratings than other skilled nursing facilities in the state.”

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