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Two Recent Cases Show Importance of Adequate Nursing Home Staffing

Two current nursing home neglect cases from northern California may help to reaffirm the Legislature's commitment to adequate staffing for nursing homes. Both cases involve residents at nursing homes who sued under the provisions of California's Health and Safety Code.

One case, from the Oakland suburb of Walnut Creek, concerns the regulation that states that patients admitted to a skilled nursing facility have the right to "an adequate number of qualified personnel to carry out all of the functions of the facility." In this case, the understaffed facility had inappropriately restrained two patients (using both physical restraints and drugs), and did not provide them with enough assistance with basic needs such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and eating.

The other case, from Lakeport (about 70 miles north of San Francisco), concerned a patient who suffered from delayed responses to her call light and a lack of assistance with grooming, bathing, and eating. Her lawsuit was based on the California nursing home regulation that requires each skilled nursing facility to offer a minimum of 3.2 nursing hours per patient per day.

In both cases, the defendant nursing homes tried to have the suits dismissed, arguing that the regulations in question only allow state regulators to take the nursing homes to court for violations, but do not allow individual residents to sue under the same provisions. However, federal judges found that the California Legislature intended the laws to allow individual patients to sue, so both lawsuits will go forward.

These cases represent an important victory for the rights of patients of California nursing homes. They are representative of the sort of problems that residents can face when living in nursing facilities that are understaffed. They encourage patients who are the victims of inadequate nursing home staffing to bring their cases forward to authorities and to speak with California understaffed nursing home attorneys about the abuse. Hopefully, these cases will also give California nursing homes reason to ensure that they are adequately staffed.

If you have a family member in a nursing home, take time to discuss the quality of care he or she is receiving. If your loved one reports problems that could be caused by inadequate or poorly-trained staff, contact a California understaffed nursing home attorney.

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