Failure to Obtain Medical Care
It will probably surprise you to learn that here at the Southern California Nursing Home Law Group we have had more than a dozen cases where a family member called 911 from a nursing home bedside because the nursing home or assisted living facility refused to obtain medical care for a resident in obvious distress. In each of those cases, the emergency department doctors all stated that emergency treatment was necessary, and in several cases lifesaving. In a few of them, the resident did not survive.
If there was one repeated failure our nursing home lawyers see in Southern California nursing homes and assisted living facilities is the failure to obtain appropriate medical care after the resident experiences an obvious decline in health. Too often, we believe, that appropriate care is not obtained out of fear that the resident will have to leave the facility, and thus the facility will lose the income that resident provides. It is also the result of the poor training of staff, who fail to recognize the need for medical care.
In California, the law requires that every nursing home resident be supervised by a physician selected by the resident, or the resident's personal representative, typically a family member. If there is no physician selected, the facility must help the resident in selecting a new physician. Typically, the physician must see the nursing home patient once every 30 days, and during that visit the doctor must evaluate the resident's total plan of care.
The value of that physician cannot be overstated. By law, the nursing home must notify the resident's personal physician when there is:
- A sudden and noticeable change in symptoms or behavior, or an obvious decline in health
- An unusual occurrence involving the resident
- A change in weight of five pounds or more within any 30-day period
- An unexpected reaction or response to a medication or treatment
- A life-threatening medication or treatment error
- A threat to the resident’s health or safety caused by the facility’s inability to timely obtain or administer prescribed drugs, equipment, supplies or services
The aforementioned situations are not discretionary. There are required by law. But too often in both he skilled nursing facility setting and residential care (assisted living), the staff resists or refuses to obtain the care that is obviously needed. In those instances, the home is committing an act of negligence, and possibly actionable abuse, neglect, and abandonment as set for the under California’s elder abuse laws.
Because of the vulnerable nature of the typical nursing home resident, the failure to obtain medical care when needed can have devastating results. In fact, in a majority of our cases involving the failure to obtain medical care the resident doesn’t survive. That is how critical urgent care is needed.
If you believe that your loved one was endangered or harmed by the nursing home or assisted living staff’s failure to obtain appropriate medical help, then there may be a viable case against the home or facility under California law. For a free and confident evaluation of your specific case, call the Southern California Nursing Home Law Group at (866) 607-1325 or fill out our online questionnaire. We would be happy to help.