Lawsuit accuses nursing home chain of putting seniors at risk

May 12


Jeffrey Nadrich

Jeffrey Nadrich

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The lawsuit accuses the chain of abruptly discharging residents without notice and lying to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid about nurses’ work hours.


A lawsuit filed in March accuses a nursing home chain,Lawsuit accuses nursing home chain of putting seniors at risk Articles which operates a nursing home in Rancho Mirage, California, among others, of misrepresenting its quality of care and putting seniors at risk. The lawsuit was filed by former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and a coalition of District and City Attorneys which included Kern County DA Cynthia Zimmer, and names Tennessee-based Brookdale Senior Living Inc., the largest senior living operator in the nation, as a defendant.

The primary allegations in the lawsuit are that Brookdale ignored patient safety laws regarding transfers and discharges, and that Brookdale lied to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) about their nursing staffing hours, leading to undeserved four and five star ratings on the CMS website.

The complaint accuses Brookdale of “systematically” violating laws that protect seniors, arguing Brookdale “increased its profits at the expense of the care and rights of its residents.”

The lawsuit accuses Brookdale of putting seniors at risk by abruptly discharging or transferring residents “without adequate notice and without preparing them to be discharged safely.”

“Brookdale does this so it can fill its beds with residents who will bring in more money,” the complaint alleges. The complaint claims that Medicare pays Brookdale’s facilities more than other sources like Medi-Cal, creating an incentive for Brookdale to abruptly discharge residents when their Medicare coverage ends.

The lawsuit argues that residents have legal protections which are supposed to prevent “this type of illegal discharge,” and that Brookdale has “systematically disregarded” these protections.

Brookdale, according to the complaint, is legally obligated to give residents reasonable written notice of discharge, give a copy to a local ombudsman, and make sure there’s a plan in place to discharge the resident safely.

“Brookdale ignored these requirements,” the lawsuit alleges.

Brookdale’s discharge practices, according to the complaint, can lead to a “range of harm” for residents, from uncertainty and stress to life-threatening crises of health. The complaint cites several examples of patients who were allegedly improperly discharged.

One 80-year-old patient, according to the lawsuit, had Alzheimer’s disease, chronic atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and gastro esophageal reflux. A proper discharge plan for this man, according to the lawsuit, would have included provision for catheterization, careful feeding and treatment of a stage 3 pressure ulcer. The man needed to be admitted to an acute care hospital within a week of discharge due to the lack of a proper discharge plan, according to the complaint.

Brookdale, according to the lawsuit, also discharged a 78-year-old resident with a catheter still attached to his body. That man, according to the lawsuit, needed oxygen, and he was discharged with no notice and no discharge plan, and his family wasn’t trained to administer his oxygen.

The lawsuit notes that patients in California have the right to be transferred or discharged only for specific reasons, and with reasonable advance notice, citing 22 C.C.R. §72527(a)(6) and 42 17 C.F.R. § 483.15(c)(l).

The complaint accuses Brookdale of initiating “tens of thousands of transfers and discharges” without providing required notices to residents and Ombudsmen, depriving “residents and their families of vital information and time to find another placement or to arrange for continuing care.”

The lawsuit accuses Brookdale of reporting too many nursing hours worked to CMS, leading to undeserved rankings on the CMS website. The complaint claims that it is evident that Brookdale’s reports to CMS were false by comparing the hours they reported to CMS with the hours reported to other government forms or found in their internal records. The lawsuit states these include cost reports submitted to CMS and the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, as well as “Brookdale’s general ledgers and time clock records.”

The complaint alleges violations of business and professions code section 17500 et seq., alleging false or misleading statements in relation to the nursing hours worked that Brookdale reported to CMS.

The complaint alleges violations of business and professions code section 17200 et seq., alleging unlawful, unfair and/or fraudulent business practices in relation to Brookdale’s transfer and discharge policies.

The complaint seeks court orders or judgments to stop the defendants from violating the various laws the lawsuit accuses them of violating. It also seeks court orders or judgments to ensure any money or property acquired by unlawful business practices is restored to whom it was acquired from.

The complaint seeks civil penalties of $2,500 for each violation of Business and Professions Code sections 17200 and 17500 et seq.

For more information on nursing home abuse lawsuits in the Coachella Valley, consult with Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers.