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Fraud, neglect cited in report on California nursing homes

The California attorney general found widespread health and safety problems in nursing homes throughout the state, according to an advocacy group that released the reports on Tuesday.

Inspectors discovered cases of bed sores not being treated properly, patients being given the wrong medication or being over-medicated with psychotropic drugs and residents left in feces and urine for hours. Nursing homes were out of compliance with nurse-patient ratios and fraudulently billing for services, according to the reports.

At one nursing home, the report read, "Systemic problems in the nursing department included the listing of inaccurate diagnoses, poor end-of-life care, avoidable dehydration and inadequate fall prevention."

At another, the report noted, "Residents are being avoidably harmed due to deficient nursing care in a number of aspects, including pressure ulcer prevention and treatment."

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris sent investigators into nursing homes between Jan. 2010 and March 2012 and found numerous health and safety issues. The cases are still being reviewed for possible action and have also been forwarded to the state Department of Public Health, said Lynda Gledhill, a spokeswoman for the office.

"We take very seriously elder abuse and Medi-Cal fraud," she said. "We are very concerned ... that Medi-Cal dollars are spent appropriately and that the individuals in these skilled nursing facilities are treated well."

The investigators are part of a program known as Operation Guardians, which was created in 2000.

The reports, although public documents, are not posted on the website and were released by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, an advocacy organization. Executive Director Pat McGinnis said in a statement that although the inspections are valuable and expose "inexcusable elder abuse and neglect," their results were unknown to nursing home residents and their families. The organization did a California Public Records Act request to get access to the inspection reports and then released them to the media.

The nursing homes inspected included several in Southern California, including Golden Cross Health Care in Pasadena, Sunrise Convalescent Hospital in Pasadena and Motion Picture and Television Fund Skilled Nursing Units in Woodland Hills.

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-- Anna Gorman

 
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