Nursing Home Charged with Elder Abuse and Medicare Fraud

Elder Abuse and Medicare Fraud Charges for California Nursing Home

Elder abuse and Medicare FraudFederal officials have filed an official complaint against the owners and operators of a California nursing home chain for elder abuse and Medicare fraud.

US Attorney Melinda Haag’s office filed the elder abuse and Medicare fraud charges on Friday, August 29th, against the Country Villa Watsonville East Nursing Center (now known as the Watsonville Nursing Center), and Country Villa Watsonville West Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (now known as the Watsonville Post-Acute Center). The False Claims filing alleges that the Watsonville nursing homes submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare, for “materially substandard or worthless services” provided to residents of the nursing homes.

The nursing homes also face serious elder abuse charges for “persistently and severely overmedicated elderly and vulnerable residents of the nursing homes” between 2007 and 2012.

The complaint alleges that staff at the nursing home gave residents anti-anxiety medications, or other medications, “at the convenience of management,” including medication intended to calm the residents into a stupor. For example, one 86-year-old male resident had his prescriptions of Xanax and two anti-psychotic drugs – Haldol and Risperdal – doubled without the consent of his family or physician. One week later, he ran a 102-degree fever and had to be taken to the hospital.

“The hospital found him to have sepsis (a blood infection), lethargy, dehydration, malnutrition, an infected pressure ulcer, additional pressure ulcers, and overall functional decline,” Haag wrote in the lawsuit.

Another 86-year-old resident was over prescribed pain medications and psychotropic drugs, although she only suffered dementia. Medicare and Medi-Cal claims from the facility ranged up to $205,819, for “substandard” services.

Medicare fraud also went further, including two patients whose prescriptions were paid for but never delivered as prescribed in 2008, and a medication error of 10.8% reported in 2010.

The Arba Group, which owns and manages the nursing home chain, issued a statement: “We have read the complaint and believe the allegations are baseless.  We attempted to voluntarily present evidence to the government, to establish this reality, but they declined to receive this evidence.”

“It’s really sad, disheartening that another circumstance of elderly abuse is right here in our own family kind of thing,” said Aaron Pol, whose 92-year-old mother-in-law has been a resident of the nursing home for a few months.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help Protect Medicare Fraud Whistleblowers at Nursing Homes Who Suspect Elder Abuse

Common whistle blower actions include:

  • Medicare fraud,
  • defense contractor fraud, and
  • other kinds of fraud against state or federal government

Nursing homes submit numerous Medicare and Medicaid claims for medications and services for their patients. However, staff and administrations who run nursing homes may not always have good intentions, which can lead to over- or under-medication, improperly administered doses, or failure to administer medication at all. This can lead to charges of elder abuse, and, if the elder abuse involves prescriptions, Medicare fraud.

If you are personally aware of a fraud that has been committed by your current or former employer, a competitor or otherwise, from tax evasion to Medicare fraud, contact the Qui Tam attorneys at the Strom Law Firm today for a no cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case and whether filing a qui tam may be appropriate. We understand the complexity of the False Claims Act, and can help you with your case. We offer free, confidential consultations so contact us for help today. 803.252.4800

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