On March 22, 2013, the California Department of Health fined a Lincoln, California nursing home $100,000 and issued a Class AA citation (the strongest citation) for the 2006 death of an 82-year-old stroke-victim resident who had been at the nursing home since 2006 and who died in 2011 as a result of being over-mediated with the blood thinner Coumadin. The man died at another nursing home nine days after he had fallen and injured his head at the Lincoln nursing home.
On May 26, 2011, the man fell from his wheelchair, hitting his head and suffering facial injuries. Despite his fall and his injuries, the nursing home failed to send the resident to a hospital for evaluation and treatment until four days later, after the man’s daughter insisted that he be sent to the hospital. At the hospital, the man’s Coumadin level was found to be eighteen times higher than normal levels and he was found to be suffering from multiple organ failure and low blood pressure. He was also diagnosed with a subdural hematoma sustained as a result of his fall four days earlier. Later he was transferred from the hospital to another nursing home, where he died on June 4, 2011.
On March 25, 2013, the California Department of Health announced that another nursing home – this one in San Diego – was issued a Class AA citation and also fined $100,000 after an investigation found that inadequate care resulted in the October 28, 2012 death of a 61-year-old nursing home resident who suffered from dementia. In this case, the nursing home failed to follow the resident’s physician orders for a chopped diet and that a staff member be with the resident during all meals because he was at risk of choking while eating. The nursing home personnel responsible for the resident’s meal failed to verify the prescribed diet, in the correct consistency, before it was brought to the resident, who was known to grab food from his meal tray and place the food in his mouth as soon as it was placed in front of him. On the occasion for which the nursing home was fined and cited, the resident grabbed two pancakes and two uncut sausage patties from his breakfast tray and placed all four items in his mouth which caused him to choke and die. The medical examiner determined that the man died due to airway obstruction and aspiration (inhalation) of food.
All nursing home facilities in California (there are approximately 1,200 skilled nursing facilities in California) are required to be in compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations governing health care facilities. Nursing home facilities are required to comply with these standards to ensure quality of care.
California has the statutory authority to impose fines against nursing home facilities it licenses as part of enforcement remedies for poor care. State citations that require a civil monetary penalty be imposed are categorized as Class B, A, or AA. The associated fines range from $100 to $2,000 for Class B, $2,000 to $20,000 for Class A, and $25,000 to $100,000 for Class AA. The citation class and amount of the fine depend upon the significance and severity of the substantiated violation, as prescribed and defined in California law.
If you or a loved one were injured (or worse) as a result of nursing home negligence, nursing home neglect, or nursing home abuse in California or in another U.S. state, you should promptly contact a California nursing home attorney or a nursing home attorney in your state who may be able to assist you by investigating your nursing home claim for you and representing you in a nursing home claim, if appropriate.
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