The California Department of Health has issued a “AA” citation and a $90,000 fine to Fallbrook Hospital District Skilled Nursing Facility after a patient fell and subsequently died at the San Diego, CA nursing home. According to director of public health director, Dr. Mark Horton, a state investigation determined that the facility failed to implement a plan of care to prevent the patient’s injury.
The California Department of Heath has the statutory authority to impose fines against nursing facilities it licenses as part of enforcement remedies for poor care. State citations that require a civil monetary penalty be imposed are categorized as Class B, A or AA. The associated fines range from $100 to $1,000 for Class B, $2,000 to $20,000 for Class A and $25,000 to $100,000 for Class AA. The citation class and amount of the fine depend upon the significance and severity of the substantiated violation, as prescribed and defined in California law.
Nursing Home Falls
More than 1,800 people die each year in nursing home falls. All health care professionals in the nursing home setting must work together to help encourage nursing home safety. Nursing homes are required to conduct a fall-risk assessment for every resident to determine who may be at risk for falls. This puts the staff on notice as to who may need special attention and sets forth what accommodations should be in place for each resident.
Additionally, staff should always be on the lookout for residents who may require assistance getting about. If residents have a history of falls, the facility should consider using alarms on chairs or beds to notify the staff when the person attempts to walk on their own.
Falls in nursing homes occur for a variety of reasons. Some of the more common causes for falls are:
- Muscle weakness and walking or gait problems
- Hazards in the nursing home- wet floors, poor lighting, improper be heights, improperly maintained wheelchairs, equipment left out of place
- Medications- Drugs that effect the central nervous system, such as sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs (psychoactive drugs)
- Improperly fitting shoes or incorrect walking aids
- Frequent use of restraints
- Inadequate staffing levels that fail to provide sufficient assistance to residents
Here is is the California Department of Health survey regarding this fall-related incident