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California Nursing Home Advocacy Group Reports Low Fines for Nursing Home Violations

Disability Rights California (DRC) released a January report entitled Keep Nursing Home Residents Safe, in which the government-endorsed protection agency highlighted the inconsistencies in citations for actions deemed to be in violation of the Nursing Home Care Act. The report also focused on the negligible fines associated with such violations.

How are Violations and Fines Issued?
Citations in most states are handed out by a state department of public health. In California, the CA Department of Public Health & Certification Division is responsible for assigning violations and their associated fines to nursing homes. Each state upholds their own grading system for violations and is also required to maintain a publicly available record of every violation and fine levied upon a nursing home or care facility. In California, a Class AA fine is considered the most severe and carries a maximum $25,000 fine, a slap on the wrist considering many nursing homes are run by profitable corporations.

One of the most shocking aspects of DRC’s report is that the most serious penalty, a Class AA violation, can include an action of a staff member that directly results in a resident’s death (legally known as Direct and Proximate Cause). Equally as bothersome is the fact that the California Department of Public Health ranks other violations with deaths as lesser citations (with lesser fines) and does not disclose why a violation that includes a resident’s death isn’t classified as Class AA.

Illinois Has Similarly Low Fines
In Illinois, violations and fines are issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and are shown to be just as vague in classification and monetarily as low as those issued in California. In Illinois, the most severe violation is a “Type AA” violation that carries a maximum $25,000 fine per violation. A Type AA citation is issued when the facility’s conduct was the proximate cause of a resident’s death.

In IDPH’s October – December 2016 Quarterly Report of Nursing Home Violators, 2 nursing facilities were issued Type AA violations and in both instances, the fines were doubled because the violation was against a part of the administrative code that is considered high risk.

26 instances of a “Type A” violation (max fine of $12,500) were documented, with 20 being issued fines of $25,000 for multiple Type A violations or for violating a high risk part of IDPH’s administrative code.

Research Your Options
We know the decision is never an easy one, but before deciding to place your loved one in a nursing home, the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti strongly encourage you to review IDPH’s Quarterly Report for violations against a care facility you’re considering. It is evident by the number of violations each quarter that the negligible fines issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health do little to stop injury, abuse and neglect.

If you or a loved one has experienced or is experiencing inhumane treatment in a nursing home or care facility, our skilled attorneys can help. To speak to an attorney, please call 877-374-1417 or submit a request for a free consultation.