California Nursing Home Abuse Laws in 2024
Nursing home abuse is one of the most important topics associated with elder law. New California elder abuse reporting rules will become operative in 2024. It is necessary to stay abreast of changes in the law because healthcare employees, social workers, and others need to know the contours of new laws affecting nursing home care in California.
Nursing homes in California serve approximately 450,000 residents. The majority of these citizens are vulnerable to various types of abuse. Evictions can cause some of these patients to suffer physical, mental, and emotional harm. Nursing homes in the State of California have received over eighteen hundred citations related to issues with patients being discharged prematurely.
Assembly Bill No. 1309
Assembly bill number 1309 requires that the notice providing the reason for the transfer or discharge of a patient include specific facts to permit determination of the date, place, witnesses, and circumstances concerning the reason for the transfer or discharge of the patient. This new law will provide greater transparency for patients who want to know why they are being transferred or discharged from a long-term care facility.
Assembly Bill No. 1417
Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill No. 1417 into law in late 2024. AB 1417 alters the mandatory reporting obligations in California for alleged, suspected, or known elder or dependent adult abuse in long-term care facilities. The following are common long-term community facilities where nursing home abuse occurs:
- Adult day health care facilities
- Hospital swing beds
- Intermediate care facilities
- Assisted living facilities
- Residential care facilities
- Skilled nursing facilities
AB 1417 decreases the time employees need to wait to report all suspected, alleged, or known abuse which takes place inside these facilities. Residents who have been diagnosed with dementia will also need to adhere to the new guidelines contained in AB 1417.
The new reporting requirements went into effect on January 1st, 2024. If you want to learn more about details of AB 1417 not discussed here then consult an experienced elder law attorney.
Mandated reporters must determine if the suspected perpetrator was a resident of a healthcare facility who has been diagnosed with dementia. Also, the abuse caused serious bodily injury involving physical pain, substantial risk, or the impairment of a bodily organ.
Reporters must submit a written report to both the long-term care ombudsman and the local law enforcement agency. The report has to be created within twenty-four hours of observing or suspecting the abuse or neglect of a patient. No verbal report is required under AB 1417.
Other Scenarios Under AB 1417
In all other scenarios the following actions are necessary:
- The reporter must verbally report to local law enforcement not later than two hours after observing or learning of the neglect or abuse
- Submit a written report to the corresponding state agency, local law enforcement, and the long-term care ombudsman within twenty-four hours
Not adhering to these new reporting requirements under AB 1417 constitutes a misdemeanor offense. Individuals who violate these provisions may be subject to incarceration and monetary fines. All long-term facilities should revise their education programs and internal policies to reflect the changes associated with AB 1417.
Elder Abuse Is Criminalized in the State of California
Penal Code 368 criminalizes elder abuse in California. Those who are charged with elder abuse may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. The victim’s age and the severity of the abuse can affect the penalties associated with a conviction. Also, the victim’s representatives may file civil lawsuits for elder abuse. The statute of limitations for a personal injury action in California is two years from the date of the injury.
The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (EADACPA) forbids the abuse of elders in nursing facilities. Elder abuse does not only include physical abuse or neglect. Sexual harm and emotional harm, as well as financial deception, constitute elder abuse under the laws of California. Financial harm is also common during elder abuse cases.
Elder abuse is often a hidden scourge due to health care workers not reporting issues such as bed sores or senior patients who need critical care. The new laws which will go into effect in California in 2024 are designed to protect the most vulnerable citizens in the state. We are all worthy of dignity and respect, but the law enables us to rectify the harm we suffer when this principle is ignored, violated, or rejected.
Understanding the Effects of Elder Abuse
One of the most damaging forms of elder abuse is financial deception. Many individuals attempt to manipulate individuals with dementia into rewriting their wills and directing that all their financial assets pass to the healthcare worker. The elderly citizens in California and across the United States need to be protected from these predatory individuals. The legislature is taking necessary steps to ensure that elderly citizens have the protections they need to ensure they do not suffer abuse.
Many employees in health care environments may be reluctant to report the abuse they see during the course of their working day. However, it is important to recall the long-term effects elder abuse can have on patients. Those who suffer elder abuse are more likely to experience symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Also, many abused individuals with dementia may be unable to recall being abused or inform others of their abuse. Therefore, regulations and laws help elders protect themselves from those who would harm them.
The Benefits of Retaining an Elder Abuse Attorney
An elder abuse attorney is often necessary if the family members of the abused victim want to seek financial compensation for the harm their relative suffered. Many senior citizens have medical problems which make it difficult for them to recall the abuse they suffered. Therefore, having legal representation is essential if the victim’s family members want to preserve evidence and have the best chance of helping the victim seek compensation for their injuries.
Senior citizens also need to have their legal rights protected throughout the course of litigation. Elder abuse attorneys understand how to protect clients with various privileges, including the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine. The communications between a client and an attorney are privileged. Opposing counsel cannot obtain all the information that the victim provides to their attorney. Sometimes family members may not understand how best to protect their loved one, and these privileges will allow the attorney to provide the client with exceptional legal representation.
Contact Berberian Ain LLP Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
We understand how humiliating and frustrating it can be to suffer physical, mental, emotional, and financial abuse. If you are seeking legal representation, then contact us today to learn more about what you can do to enforce your legal rights. Elders are vital members of all communities in the United States. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing clients in elder abuse cases.
California elder abuse laws are always evolving. If you have any questions about elder abuse reporting requirements in California, then contact us today. Mandatory reporting of elder abuse in California is one way to ensure that the most vulnerable citizens in our state receive the legal protections they deserve. We can help you with every aspect of your elder abuse case.