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Fines for nursing home neglect tend to be small

Despite doing the best research possible, some California families still learn that the nursing homes in which they placed loved ones are not as safe as they previously believed. Nursing home neglect is a startling common issue for the elderly and other compromised individuals. Despite the seriousness of mistreating residents, most nursing homes face little more than citations and resulting small fines.

An out-of-state nursing home was fined a mere $2,265 when staff negligence led to a patient's death. First admitted in November 2015, the patient was already in need of extensive care when he arrived. He was later found dead in his own bed the day of Christmas that same year. Two days prior to his death nurses had noted his shortness of breath and informed a physician of his need for oxygen, but proper documentation did not occur, and the oxygen was never administered.

Another nursing home was fined just under $2,000 for a patient death that occurred around the same period of time. Despite having a form on file requiring bed rails to be used, the patient -- who was already suffering from chronic kidney disease -- fell and developed a brain blood clot, among other issues. After being briefly treated at the hospital, he or she was returned to the nursing home and later found without any cardiac activity while lying on the floor. From the fall until the moment the patient died, only two days had passed.

It is impossible to place a price on the life of a human being, but it can be difficult to imagine such small fines making any lasting difference regarding nursing home neglect. These apparent slaps on the wrist might be especially disturbing to California families who have lost loved ones after entrusting their care to nursing homes and other residential facilities. For these families, wrongful death claims are often more than a means to securing compensation for related damages, but they are also avenues to achieving justice for lost loved ones.

Source: c-hit.org, "Two Nursing Homes Fined After Deaths, Four Others Cited", Cara Rosner, April 21, 2016

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