Skilled Healthcare (SKH), California Settle Suit Over 20 Facilities

February 15, 2013 3:42 PM EST
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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced a settlement with Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc. (NYSE: SKH) that will require court-enforceable improvements of staffing levels and quality of care at the chain’s 20 facilities. The nursing homes are comprised of 2,360 beds throughout California, most of which are in the Los Angeles region.

The agreement empowers Attorney General Harris to appoint an independent monitor who will ensure compliance with California’s staffing laws and conduct an ongoing evaluation of quality of care and staffing sufficiency at all of Skilled’s 20 facilities.

“This is a case about neglect and abuse of California’s elders by a facility that was supposed to protect and care for them,” said Attorney General Harris. “This agreement ensures that the elderly occupying Skilled’s 2,360 beds will receive better and higher quality care. At a time when California’s elderly population is growing twice as fast as the general population, family and friends should have peace of mind that their loved ones are being well cared for when they are in a nursing home setting.”

The independent monitor will make regular reports to the Attorney General and conduct surprise inspections of Skilled’s nursing homes for two years. The cost of the monitor, estimated to be $350,000 a year, will be paid for by Skilled.

The Attorney General’s enforcement action stems from 76 citations and 209 deficiencies issued by the California Department of Public Health to Skilled’s nursing facilities from2008 to 2012. Specifically, the citations and deficiencies were issued because of Skilled’s failure to prevent pressure ulcers, dehydration, malnutrition, over-medication and medication errors, deficient catheter care, urinary incontinence, and naso-gastric feeding care practices.

This case was investigated and prosecuted by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (BMFEA).

Attorney General Harris has created specialized BMFEA teams in Sacramento and Los Angeles composed of legal and nursing professionals to combat abuse, neglect and poor quality of care in California’s nursing homes.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Harris charged a Sacramento-area residential care provider with manslaughter for negligence that directly led to a patient’s death. In January, Attorney General Harris announced a three year state prison sentence for a nurse who pled no contest to “convenience drugging.”

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