How to Report Nursing Home Neglect and Elder Abuse in California
Asking yourself, ‘How do I report nursing home abuse in California?’ Even if you are not entirely sure what happened, you should absolutely report a suspicious injury to the appropriate authorities.
In this post, our California nursing home abuse lawyers will explain how you can report nursing home abuse, neglect, or elder abuse, to the state of California, based on where the incident took place (Southern California, Central California, or Northern California).
If this task is too daunting for you, Senior Justice Law Firm can help. Our lawyers are singularly focused on elder abuse and neglect claims against healthcare facilities. If you need assistance reporting a nursing home neglect incident, call Senior Justice Law Firm today for help at (888) 375-9998.
Calls are answered 24/7. All consultations are completely free and we never require any out of pocket payment from you, ever. Call us now, or live chat with our office, for assistance with reporting nursing home abuse in California.
Report Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Negligence in California
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If You See Something, Say Something
Most people are inclined to think that California nursing homes understand the importance of providing high-quality support and care for residents. Many long-term care facilities do, in fact, understand this and strive to offer high-quality service. Yet, neglect and abuse still occur. Cycles of neglect and abuse often do not start intentionally. Nursing homes across America are chronically understaffed, which often results in employees being overworked to the point where they do not have time or energy to do their job well. This is when nursing mistakes occur.
Discovering that your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home can be overwhelming, and you may not know how to alert the correct authorities. California’s resources for reporting, investigating, and prosecuting abusive nursing homes are plentiful and not at all difficult to utilize once you know the basics.
Reporting Elder Abuse in California
By law, every state in the U.S. must have a Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman Program, the purpose of which is to investigate and resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of, residents in long-term care facilities. The California Department of Aging regulates and enforces this program across the state. Contacting this program is a good first step for anyone reporting abuse or who needs further guidance. The statewide program can be reached by phone at (916) 419-7513; you may also fax a written report to (916) 928-2503. Additionally, the Ombudsman program has a crisis line available 24/7 at 1-800-231-4024. The crisis line is not an emergency service. Do not hesitate to call 911 if you believe someone’s life is in immediate danger.
While California has many agencies and services to receive and respond to reports of elder abuse, some of them have limitations depending on who is responsible for the abuse.
Adult Protective Services (APS), for example, investigates reports of elder abuse in the community (e.g., in private residences, apartments, etc.).
The California Department of Social Services (DSS), on the other hand, is one of several agencies you can reach out to if you suspect a licensed facility is abusive or neglectful. You can call the DSS at 1-844-538-8766.
A copy of your complaint can be sent to the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse (BMFEA) as well. BMFEA is a division of the California Attorney General’s office that investigates and prosecutes Medi-Cal funded facilities for fraud and severe cases of abuse. To file a complaint with the BMFEA, call 800-722-0432, use their online complaint form here, or mail a paper copy of your complaint to the Attorney General’s office of the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Medic-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA, 94244-2550).
How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse in Los Angeles?
In California, there are 1,235 Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes that care for over 102,685 residents. Overall, California ranks 34th in the nation for nursing home care quality; out of five stars, the state earns an average of two and a half stars for health inspections and an average of three stars for staffing and quality measures.
Los Angeles is California’s biggest city. Considering the overall population of the city (over 4,000,000 people), its senior citizen population is comparatively small (approximately 478,359). While there are 457 nursing homes spread across LA’s metropolitan area, only 39 of these facilities have a five-star rating for overall quality of care. This is a concerning number, as 35% of California’s residential nursing home population resides in Los Angeles County.
Altogether, long-term care consumers in LA far outnumber the 23,970 beds these highly rated facilities provide. Even so, these nursing homes may not live up to their reputations. California’s average number of health-related deficiencies is unusually high (13 deficiencies per inspection). This is almost twice the national average.
When reporting nursing home abuse, many Los Angeles residents do not realize that they can make reports to local county offices in addition to those responsible for the entire state. Abuse committed by Los Angeles nursing homes can be reported to the Los Angeles County LTC Ombudsman Program by phone and by email. Call 800-334-9473 to file a complaint during normal business hours. To make a report via email, send your written complaint to email@example.com. Your local Licensing and Certification office, which is a division of the California Department of Public Health (DPH), can also be contacted for reporting purposes. Written complaints can be mailed to 12440 E. Imperial Highway, Room 522, Norwalk, CA 90650. You can also call the DPH at (526) 345-6884 or (800) 228-1019 to report nursing home abuse.
Need help or have additional questions? Let our Los Angeles Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys assist you in exposing Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect.
How Do I Report Elder Abuse in San Diego?
San Diego has approximately 1,447,100 residents, making it California’s second largest city. There are 58 nursing homes within 25 miles of San Diego but only 23 facilities in the city itself. In the past three years, only two San Diego facilities have been fined for citations (totaling $5,396)—which doesn’t seem so bad, unless you read the reports. The first facility was fined because staff failed to properly administer and restock life-saving medication. The second facility was fined because a caregiver was seen kicking a resident, and the staff manager failed to follow proper disciplinary procedures. It is important to remember that just because a facility has not been fined does not mean it is free of problems. Further, even 5-star nursing homes are capable of neglect and abuse.
Like LA, the city of San Diego is its own county (San Diego County) and has several resources available for reporting nursing home abuse. You can report nursing home abuse in San Diego to the local LTC Ombudsman Program (858-560-2507 or 800 640-4661). The San Diego District Attorney’s office provides a Facility Elder Abuse reporting line at 619-531-3342. To make a complaint against a skilled nursing facility in San Diego, you can also call the Department of Public Health (DPH). San Diego has two local DPH offices—one for the North District (619-278-3700 or toll free: 800-824-0613) and one for the South District (619-688-6190 or toll free: 866-706-0759). San Diego also has a local Licensing and Certification office that receives written complaints by mail (you can send your documentation to 7575 Metropolitan Dr., Ste. 211, San Diego, CA 92108). If you would rather make a report to the Licensing and Certification office over the phone, call (619) 278-3700 or toll free at 800-824-0613.
If you would like further assistance, let our San Diego Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys assist you in exposing Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect.
How Do I Report Elder Abuse in San Jose?
San Jose is the third most populated city in California, with approximately 1,033,670 residents. While San Jose has just 19 nursing homes, the city’s metropolitan area encompasses an additional 34. Only seven of these 53 nursing homes earn an overall five-star rating. On the other end of the quality scale, a total of six San Jose nursing homes have been fined a combined $133,542 since 2017 for infection-related deficiencies. Furthermore, two nursing homes in the San Jose area have been cited for abuse (inflicted intentionally by staff). Ironically, both facilities have above average staffing ratings.
The city of San Jose is in Santa Clara County. Local resources for reporting nursing home abuse include Santa Clara’s LTC Ombudsman Program, which can be contacted by phone at (408) 944-0567 or (800) 231-4024. In San Jose, you can also fax a written complaint to (408) 944-0776 or send a hard copy to the local LTC Ombudsman office at the following address: 2625 Zanker Road, #200, San Jose, CA 95134-2107. Santa Clara’s County District Attorney Office can be reached at 855-323-5337 for reporting purposes as well.
Monitoring Care to Prevent Nursing Home Abuse in California
California’s long-term care facilities are subject to certain mandates that govern care and facility procedures and operations. The Department of Public Health Licensing and Certification Division performs random inspections of all licensed facilities on an annual basis. Typically, inspections involve at least three surveyors and last for three days. Surveyors conduct interviews with staff and residents, walk the facility to assess living conditions and safety hazards, review medical records, and evaluate facilities’ policies and procedures. When a surveyor finds evidence of negligence or abuse, facilities may face fines, have their licensing revoked, or be completely shut down.
The state of California has one facility participating in the SFF program and two that have been flagged by the government as potential candidates (all three of these nursing homes are in the city of Los Angeles). The SFF is a federal program meant to help long-term care facilities that have repeatedly struggled to adhere to state mandates for care. The goal is to address the underlying systemic issues at the root of neglectful or abusive cycles. If a facility fails to graduate from the SFF program, it will most likely be shut down.
Reporting Abuse in Long-Term Care Facilities in California: Citations, Fines, and Licensing
The consequences of abuse are life-changing and often weigh heavily on victims and their families. Once the damage is done, it can take a long time for people to rebuild themselves. Monetary compensation will not expedite this process, but it is certainly an avenue worth exploring if you or a loved one has experienced abuse in a California nursing home. 88% of California’s long-term care facilities are for-profit operations, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), and often, one of the best ways to push facilities to overhaul their operating procedures is to take a bite out of their profits.
The average fine inflicted on California nursing homes is $23,700. To put this number in perspective, Wisconsin pays an average of $88,100 per fine, and New Hampshire pays an average of $10,100 per fine. While California’s average fine amount is lower than many other states’, this does not mean California facilities always provide quality care. How much and how frequently nursing homes are fined speaks volumes. Higher fines indicate severe, often life-threatening deficiencies; frequent fines suggest nursing homes are not thoroughly evaluating and correcting problem areas—whether it be faulty leadership, understaffing, or something else.
Is There Anything Else I Can Do After I Report Nursing Home Abuse to the State of California?
The consequences of nursing home abuse can manifest in several ways. These consequences certainly include (but are not limited to) illness, injury, hospitalization, mental pain and suffering, and death.
Even if a victim’s body recovers, psychological and emotional distress often lingers. Whether the consequences of nursing home abuse are financial, physical, psychological, or any combination of the three, pursuing legal counsel may be right for you.
Our lawyers at Senior Justice Law Firm are results-driven experts who narrowly focus on nursing home abuse cases.
No one should suffer at the hand of a caregiver. We go the extra mile to bring about a speedy resolution and maximize our clients recovery. Call 888-375-9998 for a free case consultation and let us fight on behalf of you and your family for the justice you deserve.
Reach Out to Senior Justice Law Firm for Elder Abuse and Neglect Lawyers California
Federal fines alone are often not a satisfactory punishment in the eyes of abuse victims and their families. While filing a civil lawsuit against an abusive nursing home may yield financial compensation, it is about so much more than money. It is a tool we use to push nursing homes to raise their standards of care so that others will not have to suffer through the same cycles of abuse and neglect.
The idea of fighting for monetary damages as recompense for the abuse committed against a precious human being makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable. To many, the implicit suggestion of filing a lawsuit is that it will somehow make up for the suffering caused by nursing home abuse. This simply is not the case.
However, California law does provide an avenue of justice for families impacted by elder abuse via a civil damages lawsuit. This is because the California legislature recognizes that civil damages, i.e. money damages, deter nursing homes from committing future bad behavior.
In other words, even if the monetary settlement does not motivate you, it will deter the nursing home from harming the next vulnerable patient.
Senior Justice Law Firm views the monetary avenue for justice as a critical cog in nursing home reform—so critical that we are a firm that is narrowly focused on nursing home abuse litigation. Give us a call at 888-375-9998 to learn your rights under California law and receive a free California nursing home attorney consultation.