A California nursing home has settled claims that it submitted false medical billing claims and provided residents with “grossly substandard” care between 2012-2017. The case was filed against San Miguel Villa by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and California prosecutors after investigations identified failures by the facility to meet standards of care.
According to the DOJ’s prosecutors, San Miguel Villa violated standards of nursing care in many ways. Allegations against the facility include critical understaffing, excessive falls and injuries among the residents, and the overmedication of residents with psychotropic drugs.
These incidents put residents at unnecessary risk and may have caused permanent and deadly injuries to residents. While individual injuries are not named in the documents, falls in older adults frequently lead to permanent disabilities, reduced quality of life, and even death.
In addition, overuse of psychotropic drugs can negatively impact patients’ mental abilities, preventing them from advocating for themselves. Overdoses of these medications can even cause permanent damage, potentially reducing these vulnerable adults’ capabilities for life. The DOJ alleged that the facility used overmedication to make patients “more manageable” for the skeleton staff it maintained to increase profits.
Furthermore, the facility billed Medicare and Medi-Cal for the sub-par services, leading to these government insurance companies paying for medical care that was not performed. This may have also impacted individuals with private insurance or paying for services out of pocket.
San Miguel Villa has agreed to settle the case by paying $2.3 million to the DOJ to be divided between Medicare and Medi-Cal. Settling claims is frequently a sign that the defendant believes going to trial would be more costly or bring greater legal violations to light. As such, it appears clear that residents of San Miguel Villa suffered unconscionable treatment in the facility that was supposed to care for them in their golden years.
Unfortunately, cases like this are all too common. Nursing homes around California prioritize profit over patient care, and people suffer. If you’re concerned about your loved ones residing in nursing homes, here’s what you need to know about the risks they face and how you can protect them.
The Rising Risks of Nursing Home Abuse
People enter residential care facilities like nursing homes because they can no longer care for themselves and need assistance around the clock. By nature, these adults are particularly vulnerable to neglect and abuse. However, the risks of harm appear to be increasing, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The problem stems from two fundamental issues. First, there has been a nurse shortage for years, which accelerated after the pandemic made working in nursing homes the most dangerous job in the country. There aren’t enough nurses, CNAs, and other care workers available to staff every facility in the country to appropriate levels.
The other factor is the for-profit nature of most residential facilities. The fundamental goal of any commercial organization is to make as much profit as possible. That leads management at these nursing homes to keep staffing at the bare minimum and hire the cheapest workers possible to minimize costs. However, this puts patients at risk by forcing the staff to attempt to care for twenty or thirty patients without assistance.
These problems actively exacerbate each other. The refusal of facilities to pay well or hire enough people discourages current or potential nurses from entering the field. Meanwhile, the shortage of workers means that the nurses who are working demand higher pay, causing avaricious facilities to cut staff even further.
The people who suffer most are the patients. As with San Miguel Villa, the problem often begins with understaffing, leading to neglect. Without enough staff, patients are more likely to experience falls caused by negligence. Issues like bedsores and undetected illnesses become more frequent as well. As this neglect goes on, it can develop into medical abuse, such as drugging patients or gaslighting them about their health. The result is worse physical and mental health and shorter patient lifespans.
How to Protect Beloved Family From Neglectful Nursing Homes
You do not have to leave your loved ones to suffer in abusive or negligent residential facilities. If you’re aware that a family member is suffering, you may be able to take legal action on their behalf to hold the facility accountable. If you suspect that your loved one is being neglected or abused, look for signs such as:
- Unexplained injuries
- Illnesses that seem to appear “out of nowhere”
- New prescriptions or increases in dosage that don’t make sense
- Sudden loss of weight or muscle condition
You can also talk to your loved one about what they’re experiencing or request copies of their medical records. If they demonstrate neglect or abuse, the evidence is invaluable for your case.
Regardless of why you believe a family member is being harmed, collect the evidence for abuse or nursing home neglect. Next, contact an accomplished nursing home abuse attorney to discuss your concerns. They will advise you on the best path forward to pursue compensation for nursing home injuries suffered by your loved one.
Advocate for Your Loved Ones with Expert Legal Counsel
The best thing you can do for a family member in a residential facility is visit them regularly and watch for abuse or neglect. If anything seems off or your loved one is suffering, you can reach out to The Ellis Firm, APLC. Our Temecula law firm is dedicated to advocating for injury victims in the San Diego metro area. Schedule your consultation to discuss your concerns and learn more about how our residential facility neglect attorneys can help you pursue compensation for nursing home injuries.