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San Diego Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit

Caring for the elderly is often an emotional career, with long hours and insufficient staff to alleviate overwhelming responsibilities. Stories from whistleblowers often cite the management’s willingness to overlook proper medical procedure in favor of getting through each shift as smoothly as possible with a skeleton crew. These stories are what often come to light when elder abuse cases are brought before a court.

California Department of Health

In March 2016, a San Diego nursing home inspector entered a civil lawsuit, claiming that the California Department of Health, whom she reports to, instructed her to falsify records for nursing homes under investigation. The woman later contacted the Center for Medicare and Medicaid to reveal the scam.

One patient safety advocate stated that the state’s backlog of complaints numbered more than 11,000; these complaints aren’t just from family members of deceased relatives. Some involve patients who were actively complaining of ongoing abuse, like those in the reports the inspector was instructed to sign off on.

The state Department of Health claims that the worker is attempting to seek a settlement on a workers’ compensation case that she has filed separately. However, this comes from the same area of San Diego that houses the LifeHOUSE Vista Healthcare Center, a nursing home that has come under serious fire in recent months.

LifeHOUSE Vista Healthcare Center

The public eye was turned on the Vista Healthcare Center in San Diego as far back as 2014, when the family of an elderly woman, who died from being hit by a food cart in the hallway, filed a wrongful death suit. At that time, employees revealed that the management ordered them to improperly handle the large equipment.

In 2015, a video was posted to the social media website Snapchat, showing the nude form of an elderly woman being cared for in the San Diego nursing home, alongside a laughing orderly. This year, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health added their manpower to the ongoing investigation into the incident by the San Diego Sheriff.

As the public awaits charges, attorneys claim that the investigation is also looking into how policies can be changed to prevent these events happening in the future.

Reporting Elder Abuse in San Diego

Cases like those reported at the Vista Healthcare Center, or by the nursing home investigator, are frequently not rare. In 2009, the California Senate reported that 13% of complaints received about nursing homes involved criminal abuse or neglect, compared to the national average of 5%.

To report elder abuse in San Diego, the patient, family, friends, or any concerned party can file a complaint to the Department of Public Health, over the phone or by mailing in a complaint form. The DPH suggests that you include as many specifics that include the facts only. They also need the name and address of the nursing home, the name of the resident who is suspected of being abused, any dates or times of abuse instances, along with specific complaints, the names of witnesses, the names of staff, and any other records that are pertinent to the details.

You can also send a copy of your DPH complaint to the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, a division of the Attorney General’s office. If the case involves serious criminal abuse or Medi-Cal fraud, they may choose to open an investigation.

The DPH begins investigating complaints between 24 hours and ten days, depending on the severity of the alleged abuse taking place. You will be notified of active investigations, and can remain anonymous if you wish.

 

Sources:

http://www.canhr.org/factsheets/nh_fs/html/fs_NH_complaint.htm#12

 

https://oag.ca.gov/bmfea/elder

 

http://www.10news.com/news/team-10/team-10-nursing-home-investigator-claims-supervisors-forced-her-to-close-cases

 

http://www.10news.com/news/team-10/attorney-for-vista-nursing-home-in-naked-woman-video-scandal-says-elder-abuse-charges-likely-101915

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