A Carmichael nursing home supervisor admitted she was ordered to alter medical records of a 92-year-old patient, who died after developing rotting bedsores.
The state fined a Santa Monica nursing home for claiming a resident received physical therapy five days a week. At least 28 of those sessions were documented by nurse assistants who weren’t working on those days. In Los Angeles, lawyers for a woman who was severely re-injured at a convalescent home discovered that nonexistent nurses made entries in her chart.
All that was detailed by The Sacramento Bee’s Marjie Lundstrom in 2011. Now, after years of failed legislative attempts, Gov. Jerry Brown can correct this inequity by signing Assembly Bill 859 by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton. It would help expose – and thus discourage – what was, until Lundstrom came along, a largely untold story of falsification of records in nursing homes.
Under a 1991 law, lawyers must prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that records were altered. Eggman’s bill, backed by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform and plaintiffs’ attorneys, would ease that standard to a “preponderance of evidence.”
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A staff report cited the case of Billie Underwood, a former minister who died in a skilled nursing center in Stockton after the facility failed to change her bandages and tissue grew around them. The facility’s records claimed the wound was cleaned daily. Another facility destroyed a video that showed the death of a woman who wandered out the front door and fell.
The California Chamber of Commerce opposes this bill, as does (naturally) the nursing home industry. But so do insurance companies and something called the Civil Justice Association of California, which wants to curtail the right to sue – all decrying our litigious society. But there’s an easier fix: Don’t neglect or abuse patients. If something bad happens, don’t try to cover it up.
The vast majority of California’s 1,200 nursing homes take good care of clients. While Brown is rightly concerned about lawsuits, nursing home operators who alter evidence and are caught ought to pay the price.
Sign AB 313
During droughts, California has too little water to meet all our needs; when it rains, we have too few facilities to save what we can’t use. But we always have an abundance of arguments over water. One way to guarantee those arguments will go on for decades is to leave a large group of people convinced they have been victimized by unaccountable government appointees bent on doing the bidding of others. Here in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, most people believe the State Water Resources Control Board is working to hand over vastly more water than can be scientifically justified to never-satisfied environmental groups. The system needs more fairness, and Assemblyman Adam Gray’s AB 313 would provide some by giving those who feel wronged by board decisions the right to appeal to an administrative law judge. It won’t end all the arguments, but it will provide far more fairness – if the governor signs it.
Veto SB 649
AT&T is used to getting its way in the Capitol. Once again, AT&T was able to muscle through legislation, Senate Bill 649 by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, making it easier for telecom companies to place so-called small cell wireless contraptions on utility polls for 5G technology. Backers made late concessions. But the vast majority of local officials remain opposed, saying they would lose too much control over the looks of their cities. Local government should not impose undue burdens on business. But the Legislature shouldn’t go out of its way to big-foot local governments on behalf of big corporations. The former Oakland mayor should urge lawmakers and their telecom benefactors to try again in 2018.