Martin County nursing home neglect attorneys read with great interest a recently-released report out of California, detailing allegations of widespread neglect and fraud at institutions throughout the state.
Given that Florida has the highest rate of senior citizens in the country (17.3 percent), these types of issues are of grave concern here. It behooves us to pay attention to what other state agencies are doing to address some of these same issues.
The California report was quite horrifying: there were inspectors’ reports of patients who were discovered with improperly-treated bed sores, patients who had been improperly medicated or over-medicated and those who had been left for hours in urine or feces without being cleaned.
Across the board, even in the so-called “good” nursing homes, there were systematic problems that included poor end-of-life care, avoidable dehydration, inaccurate diagnoses and not having an adequate level of fall protection.
The end result, of course, is that patients were being harmed. The degrees of harm were varied, but the aspect that tied them all together was the fact that these instances were unquestionably preventable.
The report stems from an investigation, dubbed Operation Guardians, launched by the state’s attorney general back in the beginning of 2010. That investigation dragged on through March of 2012, and paperwork is still being reviewed to determine what official action may be taken. Those findings have additionally been forwarded to the state’s health department, though formal action has yet to be taken.
The reports were publicly released by the state’s Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. That organization requested the documents through the attorney general’s office, and then subsequently released them to the media.
To break down some of what was found:
1. Inspectors at a facility in Bakersfield noted a resident’s diaper was in need of changing – and remained so for hours. Inspectors noted that the amount of water one resident was given in a feeding tube had been cut in half, causing the patient to suffer severe hydration. Doctors’ notations in patient charts were either illegible or lacking any meaningful, medical evaluation or both.
2. Inspectors at another facility in Pasadena noted that there was not enough wound prevention or treatment, a number of the patients were dehydrated and psychotropic medications were essentially being handed out like candy. Perhaps most horrifyingly, one patient had developed maggots in an open wound in his rectum, which was attributed to the staff’s failure to regularly and properly clean the wound.
3. In a facility in Sacramento, inspectors noted that one patient had half a dozen pressure sores, which had become infected due to staff’s failure to properly treat them. Staffers said the patient’s boyfriend had been directing staff to leave her alone, even though he didn’t have any legal authority to make those demands. She was transported to the hospital, where she died the following day. At this same facility, one resident was sexually assaulted by another. No physical exam was conducted, and the victim was not transported to the hospital.
Our Florida nursing home neglect attorneys understand that the non-profit has expressed frustration with another phenomenon that is frequently cited in Florida nursing home abuse cases: a lack of accountability. Despite the abuses and instances of neglect and fraud found by investigators, nothing has happened. It’s maddening. It makes one wonder whether these officials’ reactions would be the same if it were their own parents in these facilities.
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.