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Broken hip after repeated falls for a 81-year old grandmother.

The granddaughter of a former Riverside nursing-home resident has sued the owners of Pleasant Care Convalescent of Riverside claiming her grandmother repeatedly was neglected and abused there, according to a Feb. 20 news report in the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Gegett A. Mike, of Montclair, alleged in her lawsuit that nursing home staff allowed her grandmother, Ida Mae Davis, to fall at least eight times, beginning in 2003, until she was hospitalized with a broken hip on Feb. 28, 2006. The lawsuit was filed last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the article says.

Nursing-home administrators refused to comment about the lawsuit saying they did not know it had been filed. The plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages also stating in the lawsuit that the family was never contacted about the woman’s falls. She had dementia, according to the family’s attorney, who is quoted in the Press-Enterprise’s news report.

This is apparently not the first time this nursing home has been in hot water. Last year, Pleasant Care Corp. agree to pay $1.3 million and to improve patient care in a settlement with the California attorney general’s office. That state lawsuit stemmed from allegations of elder abuse and criminally negligent care at the company’s nursing homes throughout Southern California including more than 160 state law violations over a five-year period. The corporation also agreed to pay a $1 million civil fine and to reimburse the state $350,000 for investigative costs.

Mike’s lawsuit states the nursing home staff did not make any changes to her 81-year-old grandmother’s care plans, even after she had started falling often and got several cuts on her face as a result. On Feb. 28, 2006, the nursing home staff X-rayed Davis and found she had a broken hip, the lawsuit states. Davis had been complaining of pain for more than a week before the break was found, according to the lawsuit. Davis was taken to Riverside Community Hospital, where she underwent hip surgery, and was transferred to Upland Rehabilitation, where she now lives, according to the Press-Enterprise article.

California Department of Health Services records show the nursing home last was inspected Sept. 29, 2005. Inspectors found 15 health deficiencies, including those for mistreatment, quality care and nutrition. All deficiencies were corrected Oct. 30, 2006, records show. In 2006, the department investigated seven complaints, none of which was substantiated, according to records. One complaint filed in January also was not substantiated, records show.

How many complaints need to be substantiated before a nursing home that knowingly allows such neglect and abuse of the elderly is shuttered? Elder abuse is a horribly inhumane act – a crime that leaves victims feeling vulnerable, distrustful, alone and afraid for their physical and emotional security at their most vulnerable time of life.

Those who abuse or neglect the elderly must absolutely be held responsible for the pain and suffering they have caused not only to the victims, but their families who made the heart-wrenching decision to leave their loved ones in a nursing home’s care. These types of incidents are a gross violation of their trust.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have a legal and moral responsibility to report any misconduct, negligence or abuse to authorities. By not doing so, they are exposing their innocent, helpless residents to serious injuries. There are over 400,000 nursing home abuse complaints a year in the United States.

Nursing home abuse is not an accident. It is a pattern of profit over care and performance of a sacred trust, to care for our elderly. Most of the injury cases we pursue involve accidents, none intentional negligent acts that result in injuries. When we pursue nursing homes for abuse, there is something more we naturally put into the case, it becomes personal. This type of wrongdoer is more stimulating to pursue, because they did wrong and do wrong on a consistent basis. We like chasing the “bad guys” much more so than people who are simply responsible for an accident.

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