Deadly Neglect (Part II)
Medical errors, weaker rules signal safety problems in CA assisted living homes

About this project

California regulators insist that the state’s 7,700 assisted living homes are not medical facilities. Yet an ongoing series has uncovered at least 80 cases of medical errors in San Diego area homes in recent years, provoking questions about whether employees can care safely for older, sicker residents.

Instead of mandating bigger staffs and better training, the California Department of Social Services has repeatedly weakened its rules so that the homes it licenses statewide can care for more medically needy seniors. The series is a joint project of the CHCF Center for Health Reporting and U-T San Diego.

Part I here. Part III here.

Stories

Assisted living fines often go uncollected

When the California Department of Social Services issues fines to assisted living homes for failing to properly care for elderly residents, the owners are told to pay within 10 days.

MAIN STORY: Medical errors plague care homes

At least 80 times in recent years, employees at San Diego County assisted living homes overlooked serious medical issues, gave the wrong medication or otherwise failed to properly care for vulnerable seniors.

Rules let sicker clients into living centers

One factor contributing to medical errors at assisted living homes is that California regulators over the past decade have opened the doors of the facilities to ever sicker seniors by changing the rules.

Search assisted living violations data for SD County

U-T Watchdog, as a public service, requested from the California Department of Social Services citation data for local assisted- living homes, from 2008 through May of this year. Search here to learn about San Diego County facilities.

Investigative reports spark hearings on assisted living homes

Three key committees of the California Legislature will hold hearings Feb. 11 in Sacramento to probe problems with assisted living homes in the state.

Audio

Authors

Deborah Schoch

Deborah Schoch

Senior writer Deborah Schoch reports on hospitals and health care delivery, nursing homes, environmental health and food. Her most recent articles have examined patient safety andhospital infections. She was a founding writer with the Center’s pilot project. Schoch spent 18 years as a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, covering public health and the environment. She was a member of the Times newsroom teams that won Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news in 1992 and 1994. Schoch graduated from Cornell University and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1999-2000, studying science, law and policy. Her work at the Center has won several honors, including first place in the 2010 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, from the Association of Health Care Journalists. She sits on the AHCJ board’s Right-to-Know Committee, which works to improve access to public health records.

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