SF Gate reported on California’s Supreme Court’s decision allowing a lawsuit regarding chronic understaffing to proceed against the owners and operators of the facilities. The decision allows a group of patients to sue the owner of 16 nursing homes in Alameda County for allegedly violating California’s minimum nurse-staffing standards. “The rules require long-term skilled-nursing facilities to provide each patient with 3.2 hours of nursing care per day. The patients claim homes owned by Covenant Care failed to meet those standards at least 35 percent of the time over a four-year period that started in December 2006.”

In seeking to dismiss the suit, the company argued that only state regulators had the power to enforce the standards and that the law did not authorize a private lawsuit.  The law allows nursing home residents “to bring actions themselves to remedy violations of their rights,” including the “right to reside in an adequately staffed facility,” said Presiding Justice Ignazio Ruvolo in the 3-0 ruling.  The state’s high court unanimously denied review of Covenant Care’s appeal.

“In response to two critical reports by federal inspectors, the Department of Public Health has cited state funding shortages for its failure to enforce staffing regulations and said it was working to improve its own staff training. The department has also proposed reducing its obligations to inspect nursing homes, but state lawmakers rejected the proposal in May.”


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