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San Francisco Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit

In many ways, 2015 was a big year for nursing homes in and around the San Francisco area. Courts heard more civil suits against nursing homes in the last year than in many previous years combined. Part of this is due to the Attorney General’s commitment to cracking down on cases of elder abuse and neglect. Other groups, like the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, played a large part in in the lawsuits, some of which are still ongoing.

Med-Cal Patients Dumped

The U.S. District Court of San Francisco was approached with a lawsuit from several advocacy groups, claiming that many facilities in California, including those in Sacramento and San Francisco, were taking part in an action called “dumping”, wherein they would transfer a Medi-Cal patient to the hospital who required high levels of care, and then refuse to take them back when the hospital discharged them.

The advocacy groups claimed that instead, the facilities were filling these temporarily empty beds with higher-paying private patients, or ones whose Medicare funds hadn’t been capped yet. Several readmission hearings in 2015 were decided in favor of the patients, who had been forced to remain in expensive hospital care for over a month until they could be transferred to new nursing facilities.

While trade groups for California nursing homes insisted that they were following the laws that only required beds be kept “reserved” for hospital-bound patients for seven days, the CANHR staff noted the increased wave of eviction complaints they received during the summer of 2015. Over 90% of the readmission hearings in the last decade have been awarded in the favor of the patient.

Stockton, CA, Wrongful Death Case

Not far from San Francisco, the Wagner Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has spent the first part of 2016 embroiled in two separate lawsuits regarding elder abuse. Both involved criminal neglect and abuse charges, one claiming that the nursing facility was responsible for the wrongful death of a 77-year-old patient in the summer of 2015.

The man was named Lampkins, and died as a result of infections from bed sores. During his final weeks, it was discovered that Lampkins suffered from a type of bedsore that can only be caused by long periods of immobility. This goes against the standardized medical practice for nursing homes that all patients be repositioned every two hours. Once Lampkins’ bed sores became ulcers, he should have been transferred to the hospital according to the laws that govern skilled nursing facilities. Lampkins’ sons claim that because their father was a higher-paying private patient, the nursing facility kept him on despite knowing they could not legally care for him.

Other lawsuits are being brought by a former patient, who claims he also developed ulcers due to bed sores from being unable to move after an ankle transplant. The lawsuits are both seeking economic damages, though the monetary amounts are not available. A spokesman of the California Department of Public Health said that there is no record of official complaints against the nursing facility in either case. The facility has been previously rated as below average by health inspectors, though the staffing and overall quality was rated above average. In recent years, the Wagner Heights facility has been cited nine times for health risks or personal rights violations, though they have never come under heavy investigation before.

Both lawsuits are ongoing. If the facility is found guilty of criminal neglect and abuse, the economic damages awarded in either case could cover general damages, special damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and exemplary damages for both parties.

 

Sources:

 

http://www.recordnet.com/article/20160327/NEWS/160329772

 

http://www.scpr.org/news/2015/11/11/55590/lawsuit-claims-california-fails-to-correct-nursing/

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2015/11/10/watchdog-group-sues-state-to-stop-alleged-nursing.html

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