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Sacramento Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit

In instances where widespread elder abuse is suspected across many connected facilities, complaints of abuse and neglect may be bundled into a much larger lawsuit. This has been the case for many Sacramento complaints in the wake of the massive investigation and lawsuits against the nursing home mogul Shlomo Rechnitz. Currently the owner of one in 14 skilled nursing facility beds in the entire state, Rechnitz’s facilities in Riverside, Montrose, and many other locations are all the focus of Attorney General Harris.

Burn Victim Death

In August 2015, Harris charged the Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Center with involuntary manslaughter and gross negligence for the death of a burn victim who was being cared for in their facility.

The man, James Populus, had medical complications due to burn injuries suffered decades before. Over 90% of his body had been compromised in some way, and he required frequent examination by a medical doctor. After 14 months in the facility, Populus died as a result of infection throughout his entire body.

The government of California has previously shut down three of Rechnitz’s facilities. In addition to the involuntary manslaughter charges against the facility, the director of nursing was charged by the Attorney General with willfully permitting Populus’ death. A supervising nurse is also being charged with dependent adult abuse. Both individuals face possible jail time and hefty fines. The facility faces a 10,000 dollar fine and exclusion from state and federal assistance programs

FBI at Riverside

Just a few months later, the FBI raided one of Rechnitz’s facilities in Riverside, taking documents that could pertain to alleged criminal activity. Additionally, two more of Rechnitz’s former administrators have been charged by Attorney General Harris with criminal allegations related to abuse and neglect of elders.

Last year, a DPH inspector reported that a resident at a facility owned by Rechnitz had been sexually abusing elderly patients, and that two of the managing staff knew and failed to report it. Harris charged both these individuals with misdemeanors of failing to report elder abuse. It was only after being prompted by the DPH that the facility filed the abuse reports that are required by law.

California Nursing Home Data

According to state records, Rechnitz’s facilities have received abuse complaints at a rate higher than seven times the average California statewide rate. If the allegations are true, one in 15 of residents at these facilities are placed in restraints during their stays. Both state and federal government programs regulate nursing home practices, though there is no routine evaluation for nursing home chains like the one owned by Rechnitz.

Because of this, most of the data that the Attorney General has to go on is in the form of allegations and criminal records. There are nonprofit groups that track the allegations of low staffing, bedsores, using antipsychotic drugs, and other common elder abuse issues.

Only 25 major chains control half of California’s nursing facilities. The other half are private, unconnected facilities owned by individuals or small businesses. These 25 are plagued by lawsuits, FBI raids, and a national rate of complaints that far outstrips other states. Ten of the 25 consistently score lower than average on over half of the categories by which healthcare facilities are inspected.

The turnover rate and low staffing rate of these same facilities are generally scored at “poor” or “below average”, in line with one of the most common complaints in the many elder abuse lawsuits coming forward in recent years. More than 100,000 elders live in skilled nursing homes in California, almost all of them over 75 years old. Their care varies dramatically based on the facility, regardless of the standardized laws in California.

 

Sources:

 

http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/nursing-homes/article41344296.html

 

http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/nursing-homes/article32700870.html

 

http://media.sacbee.com/static/sinclair/Nursing1c/index.html

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