Every California nursing home has the responsibility to provide the utmost level of care to its patients. Unfortunately, there are a number of nursing homes in San Bernardino County that put their residents at risk of suffering devastating injuries or illnesses. Many of these incidents go unreported. According to The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), for every one case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation or self-neglect reported to the authorities, about five more go unreported.
On September 14, 2011, the Operation Guardians multi-agency task force inspected the Plott Nursing Home in Ontario. These elder care professionals reviewed the facility and the care that some of the patients were receiving. According to their report, there were many dangerous circumstances that required immediate attention. The report stated that the nursing home's residents are being "avoidably harmed due to deficient nursing care in a number of aspects."
Pressure Ulcer Treatment and Prevention Issues
Pressure ulcers commonly develop on patients who are bedridden. It is the responsibility of the care providers to rotate and reposition elder patients in bed to relieve pressure on their heels, buttocks and back. Not only are pressure ulcers preventable through adequate attention, but they are also treatable. When these ulcers get worse and threaten the life of the victim, it may be a sign of neglect. At the Plott Nursing Home in Ontario:
- One patient was suffering from a stage II pressure ulcer and had not been repositioned for many hours. She was not on an alternating-pressure type of mattress. The staff apparently failed to monitor her skin or reposition her.
- Another patient had a full-thickness pressure ulcer that got worse after he was admitted into the facility. His wounds became infected. So he was transferred to the hospital with septic shock before passing away.
- Two recently deceased residents of the facility had full-thickness pressure sores. Neither fatally injured victim had medical records containing evidence that their sores were monitored or treated.
One of the patients evaluated by the Operation Guardians was dehydrated. That same patient recently required x-rays from a dentist but was not provided that service. The nursing notes did not reference the tooth pain she was suffering from or her weight loss. Inspectors believe the recent weight loss and dehydration may be a direct result of a failure to provide adequate dental care.
Another patient experienced recent weight loss as well. The resident was supposed to receive numerous supplements but the consumption of those supplements was not monitored. There was no report regarding why the resident lost weight.
Dangerous Drug Prescriptions
According to the report, several patients were given antipsychotic drugs. One patient was given high doses of medications given her age and health condition. Another patient was also given dangerous drugs that were unnecessary and may have been contributing to her weight loss. Conversely, one patient who had a psychiatric illness and actually needed antipsychotic drugs was only receiving antidepressants.
A number of the residents were receiving medical attention from hospice. At least two of them were not receiving adequate pain management. The staff was not properly monitoring their pain levels. In one of the cases, the patient's order of long lasting morphine failed to arrive and there was no attempt to obtain that medication. Therefore, the victim was suffering without the pain medication she needed.
Protecting the Rights of Nursing Home Residents
Inspectors also discovered:
- Many issues regarding incontinence management at the facility.
- Failures to conduct adequate assessments of patients.
- Several health and safety issues.
- Issues with infection control.
- Serious concerns regarding theft of personal belongings.
- Potential cases of verbal abuse and harassment.
Anyone worried that his or her loved one is receiving inadequate care at a California nursing home would be well advised to contact an experienced San Bernardino personal injury lawyer right away. The skilled nursing home abuse lawyers at our firm have a long and successful track record of holding negligent facilities accountable.