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5 Common Types of Financial Elder Abuse

Senior Woman Giving Credit Card Details On The PhoneFinancial exploitation of older adults is a growing threat to our nation’s aging population, sparking authorities to call the problem “rampant, invisible and lethal.” Research gleaned in a 2010 Elder Fraud Survey found that at least one in five Americans over the age of 65 has been victimized by financial abuse or fraud – a scourge that by some estimates is costing our seniors nearly $37 billion a year.

According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, financial elder abuse is vastly underreported and remains a serious concern among seniors with mild to moderate cognitive impairments.  Seniors who are having troubles with critical thinking skills or memory are more vulnerable to manipulation by trusted loved ones, family members, friends, doctors, caregivers as well as professional predators who target the elderly in variety of scams.

Older adults are attractive targets for financial exploitation for a slew of reasons. They control the vast majority of our nation’s wealth; some do not know the real value of their property and assets; they have disabilities that make them dependent on others for assistance; they are less likely to suspect or report instances of financial abuse, and computer technology has made managing finances too complex for many older adults.

Common types of financial exploitation of seniors

Elder financial abuse takes many forms, and can be perpetrated by relatives, spouses, as well as predatory professionals who purposefully exploit vulnerable seniors.

Some of the most common examples include:

  • Grandparent scams – the perpetrator calls an elder claiming to be their grandson or granddaughter in a dire emergency situation, and asks for a bank or wire transfer to help them out.
  • Lottery or Sweepstake scams – the perpetrator calls the target, saying they have won a nonexistent lottery or prize and needs the senior’s checking account number or credit card information to pay for shipping. Alternatively, they may ask for the victim to wire money to cover the custom fees for a foreign prize.
  • Telemarketing scams/mail fraud – perpetrator encourages an older adult to purchase a nonexistent product, invest in a fictitious enterprise or donate their money to a bogus charity.
  • Annuity scams – Unscrupulous agents persuade senior clients to invest in expensive annuities that will not mature for another 10-15 years, when the victim is too old to reap the benefits.
  • Financial exploitation from family members – who pressure their parent for a big loan and never repay it; or misuse a Power of Attorney to spend money for their own use; stealing ATM cards to make secret withdrawals or forging signatures to cash checks. Offenders often employ intimidation, deceit, emotional abuse or the promise of lifelong care in pressuring their victims to sign over property, open a joint bank account, or naming them beneficiaries in wills.

Sadly, financial exploitation is one of the most prevalent forms of elder abuse today. Financial abuse can have a devastating impact on seniors, leaving them without the economic means to provide for their long-term needs and reliant on federally-funded programs. Many victims become isolated, suffer depression and feelings of shame, worthlessness and guilt.

Legal assistance from elder abuse lawyers

California has enacted statutes that specifically address elder financial abuse, offering legal remedies to those who have been defrauded of their property, money or assets. Under the Welfare and Institutions Code § 15657.7, there is a four-year time limit for pursuing financial abuse cases. 

Ellis Law Corporation is dedicated to assisting older victims of financial crimes. For more than 25 years, our legal team has been advocating for seniors throughout southern California. Call 1-800-INJURED to consult with a California elder abuse lawyer today.

Additional “Elder Financial Exploitation” Resources:

  1. National Adult Protective Services Association, Elder Financial Exploitation http://www.napsa-now.org/policy-advocacy/exploitation/
  2. CA Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Elder Financial Abuse Litigation Guide https://www.ioaging.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Financial-Abuse-An-Advocate-s-Guide.pdf
  3. National Institute of Justice, Financial Exploitation of the Elderly https://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/elder-abuse/pages/financial-exploitation.aspx
  4. Grantmakers in Aging, Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation http://www.giaging.org/documents/EIFFE_Survey_Report.pdf

How to Prove Neglect in a Nursing Home Lawsuit

nursing home abuseNursing homes have a duty of care to their patients, just as other medical facilities do. Unfortunately, older people in nursing homes can be hurt by neglect.

If these duty of care standards are breached due to neglect, the nursing homes can be charged with negligence in a personal injury or wrongful death case. Negligence means that the nursing home knew or reasonably should have known that an event or condition was harming the patient, and neglected to do anything about it.

If the neglect centered around medical care or medications, nursing homes can be charged with medical malpractice.

Definition of neglect

Elder abuse is often a specific act, such as hitting or striking a senior citizen. Neglect can be more complicated to define, because it is harm that may result from failing to do something rather than doing it.

Broadly speaking, neglect encompasses such activities as denial of the senior citizen’s needs. All people have needs for food, shelter, clothing, and cleanliness, for example. Nursing homes must provide all of these to their patients sufficiently. They must also provide needed medicine, in the correct dose and at the correct time.

Failure to provide any of these can be neglect.

Allegations of neglect can also be brought regarding the nursing home’s conduct in respect to its employees, subcontractors, training, and adherence to laws and regulations.

Nursing homes must hire qualified people. There must be sufficient people on each shift to care for the patients. They must be trained sufficiently. If parts of the staff are run by agencies, as security personnel and health aides sometimes are, they must be qualified and trained as well.

Finally, all regulations, Federal, state, or local, must be followed.

Neglect can be charged against nursing homes and agencies utilized by nursing homes in any of these categories.

How is nursing home negligence proved?

Proving negligence can also be complicated. If your loved one, for example, is prone to falling due to a medical condition such as Parkinson’s, proving that the falling is due to inadequate maintenance of hallways can be complicated.

First, listen closely to the senior citizen in the nursing home. If their story of how they fell is markedly different from that of nursing home personnel, follow up.

Second, note the condition of your loved one and the nursing home. Do they look properly cared for? Are there bruises from falling or other accidents? Do they appear to be losing weight? Are their clothes adequate? Is the nursing home less than adequately maintained?

Any of these conditions and more could be signs of neglect. Take pictures if you can. That can be evidence of conditions or events. If you can’t, make note of the signs of neglect and the date. Courts need a record.

Third, report neglect to the police and southern California adult protective services. Just as in other legal cases, a report can be accepted by a court as evidence.

Talk to a nursing home abuse attorney today

Ellis Law Firm has two decades of experience in fighting for the rights of senior citizens. We represent families in elder neglect and abuse cases, fighting vigorously to protect the rights of your loved one. Call us today to discuss nursing home neglect and senior care law. We will talk at no charge to you. Call 1-800-INJURED to speak with an experienced LA nursing home neglect lawyer.

Additional “proving nursing home abuse” resources:

  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Violence Prevention. Understanding Elder Abuse. Fact Sheet 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/em-factsheet-a.pdf
  2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Violence Prevention. Elder Abuse: Prevention Strategies. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/elderabuse/prevention.html

What Merits a Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home?

Elder neglect and abuse is an increasing area of legal concern for families who entrust the care of their loved ones to rest homes.  Assisted living facilities across the nation have been cited for alarming incidents of mistreatment toward their residents, and the unfortunate reality is that many of these cases go unreported by victims. Several studies have shown that state and federally funded nursing homes, as well as dozens of private ones, are under financial strain to provide the level of quality care and staff-to-resident ratio necessary to ensure the safety and security of their charges.

Assisted living facilities and nursing homes can be held legally liable for any physical injury, neglect, or emotional abuse sustained by a patient. In the past, suing for nursing home abuse or neglect was nearly impossible, thanks to fine print clauses in contracts that kept claims out of the courtroom, and forced into arbitration. However, just last year the Health and Human Services Department changed this rule, which would have barred civil litigation against federally-funded nursing homes. The new regulations are intended to help protect the more than 1.5 million seniors who are currently residing in facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid monies.

What actions can give rise to a civil lawsuit?

Elder abuse is a broad term that can encompass a number of behaviors that harm, violate or exploit older adults. Many states, including California, have enacted Elder Abuse Laws intended deter and punish the mistreatment of the most frail and vulnerable among us. There are numerous behaviors, intentional and negligent actions that can give rise to a nursing home abuse lawsuit.

Victims and their families may sue for a wide variety of damages, including: pain and suffering, physical injury, neglect, emotional anguish, fraud, failure to provide an accepted standard of care, as well as failing to comply with state statutes on nursing home care.

The following are examples of actions and failures that can provide grounds for a civil lawsuit:

  • Lack of adequate supervision, which can lead to falls or injury
  • Failure to provide proper medical care, such as under-medicating, over-medicating, or administering the wrong drug
  • Use of unnecessary restraint (both physical and sedative restraints)
  • Negligent hiring of untrained personnel or staff with a history of elder abuse
  • Physical violence where the patient is hit, pushed or treated crudely
  • Any type of sexual abuse or misconduct
  • Neglect or abandonment – the failure to provide essential daily care, leading to malnutrition, dehydration, bed sores, infections or other harm to the patient
  • Financial exploitation, or the illegal taking or misuse of the patient’s money, assets or real property
  • Emotional abuse – using threatening language to humiliate, isolate or ridicule
  • Failure to maintain sanitary and safe conditions for residents
  • Failure to ensure the facility is free of hazards and dangers which can lead to life-threatening falls

If it can be demonstrated that residential care facilities, including their owners, managers and care givers deviated from the “standard” care, or failed to comply with regulations set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services, victims may have a viable claim for damages.

Although thousands of highly qualified and compassionate professionals work at nursing home facilities and assisted living centers, the growing number of aged Americans has meant a sharp uptick in cases of elder abuse and neglect.

Los Angeles nursing home abuse attorneys

In 1982, California passed the Elder Abuse Act, which provides legal remedies for victims of neglect, mental suffering, physical abuse, abandonment, financial abuse and other actions that cause pain and suffering. Furthermore, if it is proven that a defendant acted with “recklessness, oppression, fraud, or malice in the commission of the abuse,” plaintiffs can also seek punitive damages.

At Ellis Law Corporation, our dedicated legal team has helped many families in the greater Los Angeles area seek damages in elder abuse and neglect cases. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with a California nursing home abuse lawyer at our firm, please call 1-800-INJURED.

Additional Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Resources:

  1. NBC News, You may be signing away your right to sue the nursing home http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/18/13924478-you-may-be-signing-away-your-right-to-sue-the-nursing-home?lite
  2. New York Times, U.S. Just Made It a Lot Less Difficult to Sue Nursing Homes https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/29/business/dealbook/arbitration-nursing-homes-elder-abuse-harassment-claims.html?_r=0

Signs of Abuse or Neglect in Nursing Homes

Elder neglect and abuse is an escalating concern given that some two million seniors reside in our nation’s long-term care facilities. According to research by the Senate Special Committee on Aging, as many as five million older adults are victims of abuse or mistreatment every year. Many residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities suffer from cognitive impairment – sometimes losing the capacity to recognize mistreatment and defend themselves from negligent or abusive caregivers.

The grim reality is that many of our aging loved ones are subject to a range of unspeakable acts, from physical and verbal abuse to isolation and sexual exploitation. In order to prevent the abuse and mistreatment of your family members or loved ones, it’s important to recognize red flags that signal an older adult is being harmed.

Nursing home neglect warning signs

  • Signs of physical abuse – Be alert for unexplained injuries such as bruises, burns, broken bones, cuts, pressure marks, abrasions or signs of being restrained. If the explanations given by nursing home staff don’t sound “right,” they warrant additional questions and research.
  • Signs of emotional abuse – Verbal abuse is much more challenging to detect, especially in victims with dementia who cannot express what is happening to them. Look out for unusual behavior or personality changes: sudden depression or withdrawal, or biting and rocking. Have you seen the caregiver yell at or belittle your loved one? Have they been forced into isolation from other residents against their will? Anxious or nervous behavior around the caregiver may indicate an elder is fearful. Be concerned if the caregiver doesn’t want you to be alone with your loved one, or doesn’t let them speak for themselves.
  • Signs of Neglect – Understaffed nursing homes may not be equipped or have the trained personnel to ensure your loved one’s most basic needs are being met. This neglect may be passive or intentional, resulting in unusual weight loss, soiled diapers, bed sores, dirty clothes, poor hygiene, unsanitary conditions, and increased incidences of illness or injury due to lack of adequate supervision. Other signs of neglect are lack of basic medical aids such as glasses, a hearing aid or medication.
  • Signs of Sexual Abuse – Bruises near the genitals or breasts, blood-stained undergarments, unexplained venereal diseases or urinary tract infections, difficulty walking, as well as withdrawn behavior around certain caregivers.
  • Signs of Financial Abuse – Long-term caregivers are in a unique position to exploit their patients financially, using harassment, threats or false pretenses to steal money and assets. Be alert for unexplained bank withdrawals, frequent ATM withdrawals, unusual credit card purchases, new co-signers on bank accounts or credit cards, and changes in power of attorney.

Elder abuse lawyers in California

While the presence of one of these signs does not automatically indicate that abuse is occurring, it does merit further investigation to ensure the safety of your loved one. In the end, it’s always wise to report your concerns to your California long-term care ombudsman, or local adult protective services agency.

The elder abuse attorneys at Ellis Law stand prepared to bring abusive and negligent caregivers to justice. Leveraging more than 20 years of experience in elder abuse law, our legal team offers aggressive legal representation to victims throughout southern California.  Call 1-800-INJURED to arrange a confidential case review today.

Additional “Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect” Resources:

  1. Next Avenue, 6 Signs of Nursing Home Neglect http://www.nextavenue.org/6-signs-of-nursing-home-neglect/
  2. Caring.com, 5 Signs of Elder Abuse https://www.caring.com/articles/signs-of-elder-abuse
  3. ElderAbuseHelpline, Identifying Elder Abuse Types & Signs Risk factors for elder abuse http://www.elderabusehelpline.com.au/for-professionals/identifying-elder-abuse-types-signs

How To Report Elder Abuse In A Nursing Home In California

senior woman nursing homeElder abuse can take many forms – physical, mental, financial, or neglect. If you suspect abuse, it helps to document the signs with photographs and by writing descriptions of behavioral changes. Assemble written statements from the victim and any witnesses, if possible. There are many different agencies that handle California nursing home abuse cases.

The following are ways in which you can report elder abuse in a California nursing home:

Emergency personnel and local law enforcement

If a situation is serious or life-threatening, or if a crime is in progress, dial 9-1-1 to connect with local law enforcement and emergency responders right away. Often, a filed police report can greatly assist with the processing of your case through another agency if you decide to go that route as well.

Raise your concerns with the healthcare team

California law requires mandatory reporting of known or suspected elder abuse. As “mandated reporters,” hospital staff, long-term care administrators, family doctors, nurses, mental healthcare professionals, medical examiners, and social workers must fill out Form SOC 341 with their concerns and contact Adult Protective Services.

Hotlines vary, depending on location:

  • LA County Adult Protective Services Elder Abuse Hotline: (877) 477‐3646
  • Orange County Elder & Dependent Abuse Reporting: (800) 451‐5155
  • San Bernardino Adult Protective Services: (877) 565‐2020
  • Riverside County Adult Protective Services: (800) 491‐7123
  • Ventura County Adult Protective Services: (805) 654‐3200

Adult Protective Services

Adult Protective Services, a division of the LA County Aging & Independence Services, is the principal public agency responsible for investigating elder abuse reports and treating victims with a range of services. APS investigates claims of elder abuse occurring in private homes, hospitals, clinics, adult day care, long-term care facilities, and social centers. You may contact the LA County Adult Protective Services at 1-800-510-2020. There is also an after-hours crisis line available at 800-231-4024.

Contact your local long-term care ombudsman

Long-term care ombudsmen are advocates for nursing home or assisted living residents. They can help you find the right long-term care facility for a relative, but they can also ensure that your loved one enjoys quality of care once they are settled somewhere. The State Ombudsman Program investigates:

  • Violations of human rights or dignity
  • Physical, verbal, and mental abuse
  • Neglect, poor quality of care, and refusal of service
  • Unreasonable confinement
  • Improper transfer or discharge
  • Inappropriate use of chemicals or restraints
  • Any other concern about quality of life

They also have access to a database of other formal complaints collected since 1996, so you can find out if problems are systemic in your loved one’s facility.

LA County Elder Abuse Hotline, District Attorney’s Office

The District Attorney has an Elder Abuse Unit as part of the Family Protection Division. Run by a team of skilled lawyers, the DA’s office prosecutes crimes against seniors and is prepared to address the needs of elderly victims. They train police, public safety workers, and financial employees on how to protect the elderly. To connect with the Los Angeles County Elder Abuse Hotline, dial 1-877-4-R-SENIORS (1-877-477-3646).

Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office

Some city attorneys are lawyers in private practice that handle government matters. Other city attorneys prosecute local crimes. The City Attorney’s Office runs a Family Violence Prosecution Unit to handle a variety of cases, including physical and sexual elder abuse.

Department of Justice, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse offers a nationally recognized approach to law enforcement. Their investigation and prosecution of elder abuse, neglect, and poor quality of care in long-term facilities is designed as a safeguard for California’s elderly population. You may call or visit  www.ag.ca.gov/bmfea.

Seniors Against Investment Fraud

If you fear nursing home staff is embezzling money from your loved one, you may contact the California Department of Business Oversight’s Seniors Against Investment Fraud (SAIF). This program was established in 2001 to track common scams targeting old people. Call 1-866-275-2677 to report a financial elder abuse issue.

Call the Ellis Personal Injury Law Firm

Of course, you can always contact a legal team experienced in elder abuse cases. The Ellis Personal Injury Law Firm is ready to assist clients in the investigation of abuse taking place in nursing homes. We not only investigate the facts surrounding your claim, but we also line up experts willing to testify on your behalf. All legal services are free of charge unless we agree to take on your case and we win money on your behalf. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by calling a Los Angeles elder abuse lawyer at 1-800-INJURED.

Additional “how to report nursing home abuse” resources:

  1. Longterm Ombudsman – About, http://ltcombudsman.org/about/about-ombudsman
  2. A Place For Mom – Identifying Elder Abuse, http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/for-professionals/2-26-16-identifying-elder-abuse/
  3. LA County DA’s Office – Elder Abuse, http://da.lacounty.gov/seniors
  4. LA City Attorney’s Office – Elder Abuse, http://www.lacityattorney.org/elder-abuse
  5. California Dept. Business Oversight – Financial Abuse, http://www.dbo.ca.gov/Consumers/education_outreach/saif/default.asp
  6. The Consumer Voice – State Resources, http://theconsumervoice.org/get_help/state_resources/ca
  7. California Mandatory Reporting – Requirements, http://www.valleycareipa.com/assets/files/California%20Mandated%20Reporting%20Requirements%20for%20Abuse.pdf
  8. California Dept. Justice – Citizen’s Guide To Preventing & Reporting Elder Abuse,  http://ag.ca.gov/bmfea/pdfs/citizens_guide.pdf

The “Grandparent Scam”, Targeting Southern California’s Elderly, Is Back

Senior Woman Giving Credit Card Details On The PhoneThe “Grandparent Scam” is nothing new. Reports of fake “relatives in distress” have been circulating for years now, but the California Attorney General warns that there have been a rash of scams perpetuated recently. It’s been estimated that seniors lose roughly $3 billion to financial scams each year, with the Grandparent Scam hailed as the most popular. In 2015, the FTC received 10,565 reported “family impostor” fraud complaints. Who knows how many incidents went unreported!

What is the Grandparent Scam?

Here’s how the scam works:

  • Someone calls you, starting with a “Hi, Grandpa” or “Hi, Grandma.”
  • The caller claims to be a grandchild in trouble and in need of cash right away.
  • Often, the “grandchild” says he or she had a sudden medical emergency or a car that broke down.
  • Other schemes may include that the grandchild was mugged or arrested.
  • Asking you to wire cash to an authority figure is common. “I’m at the police station with a lawyer,” one may say.
  • The caller may hand the phone to a “police officer,” “lawyer,” or “repair technician” to corroborate their story.
  • The address of the wire transfer is often to a foreign location, such as Mexico or Canada.
  • Instead of wire transfers, the caller may request gift cards from Target or prepaid Visa cards.
  • The caller insists that you not tell anyone about the money transfer or says that it’s a confidential secret.

Financial scams are a form of elder abuse

California has passed new laws to reinforce the fact that stealing from the elderly is a serious crime. Victims not only suffer financially, but emotionally as well. SB 543, sponsored by the San Diego DA’s office, makes stealing from the elderly a “qualifying prior offense,” which can bump up three instances of petty theft to a felony.

What to do when a Grandparent scammer calls you

If you’ve been targeted, the AARP recommends that you:

  • Ask the caller a lot of questions. Take a deep breath and try not to let your emotions run away with you. Ask the caller for a maternal birth date, the name of his or her pet, or a boss’s name.
  • Never give out personal information. Scammers may have access to personal information such as email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses, employers, and relative names that have been bought or stolen online. Sophisticated scammers can even mask their numbers so they appear to be calling from a familiar line. Avoid giving out any identifying information or financial data such as credit or bank account numbers, and online passwords.
  • Always call other relatives to verify the story. Try to contact your grandchild directly by cell or work phone, or by speaking with someone your grandchild is close to who can corroborate the details.
  • Contact the authorities. Always report financial treachery to the Federal Trade Commission. You may also report the incident to the AARP Foundation Fraud Fighter Call Center at 1-800-646-2283. If you fear a relative is in trouble overseas, you can call the U.S. State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) at 1-888-407-4747.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve fallen for the act. These trained con-artists are so good they could win an Academy Award for their performances. Doug Shadel from the AARP explained: “We’ve had doctors and lawyers fall for this. It doesn’t matter what your educational level is because it triggers something emotional, it causes you to act.” Cut yourself some slack, but do contact an experienced attorney who can help you get your money back.

Contact a Southern California elder abuse attorney

If you or someone you love has been targeted by a telemarketing scam, know that California law allows victims of elder abuse to sue for damages, including the cost of attorney fees and legal expenses. Some victims suffer depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders that they need treatment for after a devastating financial loss. In some cases, you may be eligible for compensation to cover the cost of your treatment. The Ellis Injury Law Firm offers free, no-obligation consultations and works on a contingency basis only, meaning that you owe us nothing for our work until we win your case in settlement or in court. Speak with a friendly and knowledgeable elder abuse attorney in Los Angeles today!

Additional “Grandpa Scam” Resources:

  1. State of CA Dept of Justice – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Urges Californians to Be on the Lookout For the ‘Grandparent Scam’ and Other Recently Reported Scams https://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-kamala-d-harris-urges-californians-be-lookout-%E2%80%98grandparent-scam
  2. Roseville CA – Grandparent Scam https://nextdoor.com/agency-post/ca/roseville/city-of-roseville-california/beware-of-the-grandparent-scam-10982455/
  3. CBS – Grandparent Scam Explained: What You Need To Know http://www.cbsnews.com/news/grandparent-scam-explained-by-former-scammer-what-you-need-to-know/
  4. 12 News – Hi Grandma Scam http://www.12news.com/money/business/consumer/call-12-for-action/hi-grandma-phone-scam-impersonates-family-for-money/61942781

New Rule Gives Nursing Home Residents Right to Sue Facilities

Helping Grandmother WalkAt a time when concerns have been on the rise over the safety and care of residents in nursing homes, the federal government has just taken steps to improve nursing home resident protections. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have created a new rule prohibiting the use of pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements among facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid patients.

The new rule, which was issued on September 28, bans nursing homes from requiring residents to sign these arbitration agreements before being admitted to the facility. The agreements forced residents and their families to settle disputes in arbitration, rather than in a court of law. While the rule only applies to nursing homes that accept Medicare and Medicaid, that encompasses nearly all long-term care facilities in the country today.

Transforming health care

According to the CMS website, the new rule is “an integral part of CMS’s commitment to transform our health care system to deliver better quality care.” The rule also includes other changes designed to improve the standard of care in nursing homes and strengthen safety processes for nursing home residents. This is the first comprehensive change to these rules and regulations since 1991.

“The health and safety of residents in long-term care facilities are our top priorities,” Andy Slavitt, CMS acting administrator, stated on the agency’s website. “The advances we are announcing today will give residents and families greater assurances of the care they can receive.”

No more arbitration requirement

The new rule allows residents and nursing home to still enter into arbitration, but only if both parties choose to do so. Now, residents and their families can go directly to court if they feel the nursing home has been negligent or abusive to the resident in any way. A 2009 study by the American Health Care Association found that arbitration awards were about 35 percent lower on average than awards issued through the court system.

Unfortunately, the new rule that goes into effect November 28 will not apply to nursing home residents that have already signed pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements. However, there is a question of whether CMS might try to enforce the new rule when it comes time for nursing homes to re-certify with Medicare or Medicaid. At this time, that question remains unanswered.

In addition to doing away with pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements, the new rule expands regulations involving personnel requirements and qualifications, food for residents and the standards of medical care. The rule also includes guidelines for infection prevention and control, due to increasing concerns about antibiotic-resistant super bugs.

Prevalence of nursing home abuse

Nursing home abuse is unfortunately a common problem nationwide. The Nursing Home Abuse Guide estimates that more than two million cases of elder abuse may occur every year, affecting one in every 10 seniors in this country. Elders that have suffered abuse have a 300-percent higher risk of death, according to the National Council on Aging.

Now, nursing home residents and their families will have legal recourse in the event nursing homes do not provide the proper level of care. The ability to file a personal injury lawsuit against nursing home facilities may serve as a deterrent for neglect and abuse. When incidents do occur, the resident and family will have more options at their disposal to seek restitution from the facility.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of nursing home abuse, help is available. The legal team at Ellis Injury Law has ample experience working with nursing home abuse case and can help you pursue compensation for medical bills, pai/elder-abuse/ and suffering and other losses. Call 1-800-INJURED to discuss your legal options — free of charge– with veteran elder abuse lawyers in Los Angeles.

Nursing Home Rating System Proves Misleading for Families

Doctor with Elderly Patient

An investigative reporter at The New York Times recently explored the potential for negligence at highly rated nursing homes in Los Angeles and around the country.The results are likely to have many families shocked and concerned for their loved ones’ well-being.

At Ellis Law firm of Los Angeles, our nursing home abuse lawyers are deeply disturbed by this report. We would like to extend an invitation to families in the LA area who may have been victimized by abuse at nursing homes and misled by faulty nursing home rating systems. Simply call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation to discuss your legal rights and recourse.

Flawed rating system for nursing homes

According to The New York Times, the Medicare rating system used to sort out the top-notch nursing homes from the subpar ones is subject to rampant abuse by the nursing homes themselves. The rating system relies primarily on data that is reported by the nursing homes, rather than by independent investigators, and this data is not subject to review by Medicare or another impartial organization. This means that a nursing home rated a “5” – the highest rating and a supposed mark of excellence – could very well be characterized by negligence or even abuse of its vulnerable residents.

In fact, the criteria used by the Medicare rating system to determine these ratings are questionable, insofar as there are only three areas of evaluation. The nursing homes self-report two of these measures, which are quality statistics and staff levels. Only the third measure is independently reported, which involves the results of annual health inspections. That the Medicare system does not take into consideration consumer complaints, government enforcement actions, or fines seems to be a shocking oversight.

In fact, nursing home abuse lawyers in Los Angeles and elsewhere may represent clients of loved ones who live in top-rated nursing homes, yet have suffered from negligence or abuse at the hands of their caregivers.

“Top” nursing homes under fire

Families in the Sacramento, CA area who are looking for a luxurious, top-rated nursing home for their loved ones might visit Rosewood Post-Acute Rehab. As one enters the lobby, one is greeted by cathedral ceilings, luxury furniture, and artistic paintings. Rosewood is one of the 15,000-plus nursing homes throughout the U.S. to have earned a “5” from the Medicare rating system. At first blush, it looks like an ideal environment for the care of loved ones.

Upon closer inspection, however, one would find that Rosewood has been the subject of more than 100 complaints from 2009 to 2013. Another consumer complaint tracking organization places that number at 164 complaints, which is more than twice the average for California. Some Rosewood residents disagree with the high rating, pointing to a lax standard of care at the facility. The state even ordered the nursing home to pay the maximum fine – $100,000 – for its role in the death of a resident in 2006. She had been given a fatal overdose of her medication.

Rosewood is just one of the many nursing homes in California and throughout the country that have had complaints of negligence and elder abuse.

Californians can turn to LA nursing home injury attorneys

At Ellis Law firm, we have the tools and specialized knowledge necessary to fight back against negligent nursing home staff. Californians who believe their loved ones may have been victimized by nursing home neglect or abuse are invited to contact our lawyers in Los Angeles to schedule a free case review.

We’ll put our investigative resources to work for you to determine who is responsible for your loved one’s injuries. A lawsuit filed against the responsible parties can help obtain compensation for your loved one’s injuries and other losses. Call 1-800-INJURED today for your complimentary case evaluation.