California Nursing Home Abuse: How To Recognize Red Flags
An expert opinion
In a recent interview, J. Niley Dorit, a California attorney whose practice consists of elder neglect, nursing home abuse, medical malpractice and general personal injury cases, provided the following advice to consumers who suspect that a loved one is being mistreated at an elder or dependent care facility:
- Looks may be deceiving. Dont rely on the fact that the facility may look beautiful, have well-manicured lawns or nice art on the wall. The most important aspects are whether the staff pays attention to the residents and are diligent about watching them. If they see a problem, report it to whoever is caring for the person and to the administrator of the facility in order to have the issue resolved immediately.
- Seek assistance. If there is an event that results in injury, or if there is a series or pattern of problems that has developed thats not addressed by the facility, then I think it would be appropriate to contact an attorney who can then start an investigation by themselves or in conjunction with the State of California.
The importance of documentation
Its important to maintain documentation about the care of loved ones especially when you suspect neglect or mistreatment. Dorit explained, The most important documents are the facility records. For California residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs), that will include the lease agreement and the daily and weekly logs as well as the record of centrally stored medications. In skilled nursing facilities, the medical records are critical, particularly the nursing notes. The lease agreements at RCFEs are analogous to an agreement that would be used to lease an ordinary apartment. However, the agreement, of course, is much more detailed in terms of the type and frequency of care involved.
In addition, ambulance records and medical orders from their doctor are also important pieces of paper to hold on to primarily for the health and benefit of the resident or patient but also for the lawyer to review if a problem arises. Normally, copies of all of these types of records are obtained by the attorney during a case investigation.
How the State of California is involved
The State of California seems to be very involved in monitoring elder and dependent care facilities and cases. According to Dorit, The State has done a couple of really important things. It enacted a set of laws in 1991 to protect the elderly and dependents and has two state agencies that monitor, supervise and investigate long-term care facilities. It has also added the right to obtain attorneys fees for attorneys qualified to handle these cases. This has resulted in attorneys taking cases that they otherwise would not have taken in order to act as private enforcement mechanism for the State of California.