Elder financial abuse is a serious and growing problem in nursing homes across the country. Most often, it’s classified as an issue that occurs when a caregiver – usually a family member – takes advantage of the elderly person’s trust or position of need. However, it happens in nursing home facilities too where a company misrepresents the quality of care to patients, prospective patients, family members and government agencies that pay for this care.
Recently in California, four residents living in residential care facilities owned by a single chain provider sued the company’s founder and developer, alleging fraudulent practices that exposed them to risk of injury and deprived them of necessary care.
According to the Press-Democrat, the lawsuit alleges residents were discovered on the ground, left soiled for hours at a time and at least one suffered an unexplained injury due to perpetual understaffing that amounted to fraud. The company reportedly misrepresented the care it was providing residents when it came time to collecting federal healthcare benefits for those patients. Further, the facility fees, which in some cases were $10,000 per resident per moth, were based on budgets crafted to rake in the highest profits, rather than assess the individual needs of each resident.
The facility wherein the alleged neglect and negligence occurred, served residents 65-and-older. Inadequate care and inadequate supervision of limited staffers resulted in residents continually running the risk of not having their needs met, which put them at higher risk for serious injuries and illnesses, the lawsuit alleges.
Patient plaintiffs were seeking a class action designation, which could mean the number of plaintiffs could span into the thousands. This is not the typical route for nursing home abuse lawsuits, which are mostly filed on an individual basis. However, we may see more of this type of litigation with the ongoing success of for-profit nursing home chains. One study released in 2016 by Marshall University revealed that staffing levels – considered to be a significant predictor of quality of care – for-profit chains consistently had lower levels of registered nursing staffing, as well as lower staffing hours, when compared to non-profit nursing homes. The nursing home chain care providers consistently had sicker patients, and a combined total of 30 percent less total nursing hours compared to non-profit facilities. The top 10 for-profit nursing home chains fell significantly behind on licensed practical nurse staffing as well, and these centers were cited for 36 percent more quality deficiencies and 41 percent more severe deficiencies as compared to non-profit facilities.
This particular facility is privately-held, founded in 1997 and operates nearly two dozen facilities in California. Plaintiffs allege the facility and its administrators committed elder financial abuse and fraudulent business practices by not disclosing that patient care assessments weren’t used to establish staffing budget. Further, plaintiffs assert the business actively hid from residents, prospective residents and families that reality about its corporate policy and practice.
One plaintiff alleged that only a single caregiver was available in a unit of more than 12 dementia patients who required assistance with everyday tasks, such as showering, using the toilet, showering, walking, feeding and grooming. Patients were often left alone unsupervised for long stretches, and in one case, a patient suffered a broken rib for which staffers had no explanation.
Class action status is sought that would cover as many as 4,000 people – current and former residents of the facility over a four-year time frame.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Lawsuit alleges fraud, elder financial abuse at Oakmont Senior Living, Sept. 14, 2017, By Guy Kovner, The Press Democrat
More Blog Entries:
Lawsuit: Nursing Home Bedsore Proves Fatal for Patient, Sept. 21, 2017, Orlando Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog