One Of The Highest Personal Injury Jury Verdicts in California $60.7M Get Legal Help Now

Many California Nursing Home Injuries Are Preventable

Steven R. Andrade July 28, 2017

Attorney Steven R. Andrade is committed to protecting the rights of nursing home residents. Contact Andrade Law Offices about how we may help. We can work to ensure any neglect or abuse ends and that proper authorities are notified. We may also be able to recover compensation for the abuse victim's medical needs, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Numerous troubling reports in recent years have detailed how California nursing homes residents have suffered abuse and neglect that led to death and injuries.

A series of reports by the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Center for Health Reporting, for example, included a finding of 27 deaths from injuries and neglect at homes in San Diego County, and at least 80 instances in which employees overlooked serious medical issues, gave the wrong medication or failed to properly care for vulnerable seniors.

A ProPublica investigation details the decline and death of a dementia patient at an Emerald Hills assisted living facility in Auburn, Calif., operated by Emeritus Senior Living, the country's largest assisted living company. As workers without the medical skills or legal authority to treat Joan let her bed sores and other conditions grow worse, her family was kept in the dark about what was going on with her as well as about care violations cited at several Emeritus nursing homes.

Nursing homes are legally required to provide quality care for residents and treat them with dignity and respect. When they fail to do so, they should be held responsible.

Health organizations and medical professionals know that certain injuries that frequently befall nursing home residents are preventable.

The Department of Health and Human Services says that the definition of elder abuse includes the refusal or failure by responsible individuals to provide health care or protection for a vulnerable elder. When such mistreatment occurs in a residential facility such as a nursing home, assisted living facility, group home or foster home, it is considered institutional elder abuse.

Falls are among the most prevalent accidents leading to injury and death among elderly patients residing in nursing homes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes die each year from fall-related injuries and those who survive frequently suffer injuries that result in permanent disability and reduced quality of life.

A study conducted by the UCLA Multicampus Program in Geriatrics and Gerontology in Los Angeles considers exercise programs, targeting patients at risk of falls for special prevention efforts and less frequent use of high-risk medications as means to reduce the incidence of fall injuries in nursing homes.

Falls are just one of the many types of accidents that can happen if nursing home staff and medical professionals do not do an adequate job of caring for elderly residents entrusted to them. A broader look at the kind of medical care failures that are preventable can be found in so-called “never events.”

The National Quality Forum (NQF) coined the term “never events” to describe particularly shocking medical errors such as wrong-site surgery that should never occur. Over time, the definition was expanded to include adverse events that are clearly identifiable, serious, and usually preventable.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in August 2007 that Medicare would no longer pay for additional costs associated with many preventable errors, including those considered never events. Since then, many states and private insurers have adopted similar policies.

Among the NQF's never events are incidents leading to patient death or serious injury associated with:

  • A fall while being cared for in a nursing home.

  • Use of restraints or bedrails while being cared for in a nursing home.

  • Stage 3 or Stage 4 pressure ulcers (bed sores) acquired after admission to a nursing home.

  • Medication error, including wrong drug, wrong dosage, wrong time, wrong preparation or wrong route of administration.

  • Onset of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) while in nursing home care.

  • Improper use of a medical device or use of a contaminated medical device.

  • Use of contaminated drugs biologics provided by the nursing home.

  • Delivery and administration of oxygen to the patient that is incorrect, toxic or contaminated.

  • Sexual assault on a patient within or on the grounds of a nursing home.

  • Abduction of a patient.

  • Discharge or release of a patient/resident of any age who is unable to make decisions to someone other than an authorized person.

  • Physical assault that occurs within or on the grounds of a nursing home.

If any of these or a similar accident or injury has happened to you or a loved one in a California nursing home, you may have legal recourse. Attorney Steven R. Andrade is committed to protecting the rights of nursing home residents. Andrade Law Offices would like to talk to you about how we may help. We may be able to recover compensation for the abuse victim's medical needs, pain and suffering, and other losses.