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California and Federal Law on Nursing Home Abuse

California’s laws on nursing home abuse are comprehensive, focusing on the protection of residents in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. The state has enacted specific statutes to address the issue, with the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (EADACPA) being a central piece of legislation. This Act outlines various protections for individuals from abuse or neglect in nursing homes or care facilities, covering physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or any treatment that results in physical harm, pain, or mental suffering​​​.

Recent legislative actions have further strengthened protections for nursing home residents. The Skilled Nursing Facility Ownership and Management Reform Act, for example, introduces new rules to make it more difficult for negligent operators to obtain a license. This includes disqualifying applicants owning or operating a significant number of facilities, requiring a licensing application to be submitted at least 120 days before acquiring or operating a nursing home, and imposing sanctions on those who acquire or operate a nursing home before their application is approved​​.

Title 22 is another crucial regulation, detailing the operational standards every nursing home in California must meet, from food service to personal care and the overall supervision of residents​. The law emphasizes the importance of maintaining residents’ physical, mental, and medical well-being, ensuring they do not deteriorate unless medically unavoidable, and guaranteeing their right to choose their care and treatment options​.

Enforcement of these laws involves several agencies, including the California Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS), with the DPH being responsible for regulating and enforcing laws governing nursing home abuse and allowing victims to file complaints​.

In addition to state-specific legislation, federal laws such as the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 set national quality standards for nursing homes, requiring facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement to comply with its provisions, which include ensuring the right to proper care and the right to live free from abuse and neglect​​.

For those facing nursing home abuse in California, the legal framework provides several avenues for redress, including filing complaints with state agencies and pursuing civil claims for damages, which can cover a wide range of losses from medical expenses to emotional distress​.

1. Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (EADACPA)

The EADACPA is a cornerstone in the protection of elders and dependent adults living in nursing homes and other care facilities in California. This Act provides a broad definition of abuse, including physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or any treatment resulting in physical harm, pain, or mental suffering. The Act allows for both civil and criminal penalties against abusers and facilities that violate these provisions.

2. Skilled Nursing Facility Ownership and Management Reform Act

Introduced to improve oversight and accountability of nursing home operators, this Act implements stricter licensing requirements for nursing home operators, aiming to prevent negligent entities from managing these facilities.

  • Unfortunately, direct links to specific statutes for the Skilled Nursing Facility Ownership and Management Reform Act are not as readily available as for some other laws, but the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) provides resources and guidelines reflecting these and related regulations. For detailed information, you can visit the CDPH website.

3. Title 22 Social Security

Title 22 in California Code of Regulations sets forth the licensing and certification requirements for health facilities, including nursing homes. It covers a wide range of operational standards such as food service, personal care, supervision of residents, and more, ensuring that residents receive appropriate care and services.

Federal Laws:

In addition to state-specific regulations, several federal laws set standards for nursing homes across the United States, including those in California:

a. Nursing Home Reform Act (1987)

This federal law establishes standards for nursing homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding, including the rights of residents to be free from abuse and neglect.

b. Elder Justice Act (2010)

Part of the Affordable Care Act, this law aims to prevent elder abuse and neglect by requiring immediate reporting of crimes in nursing homes and creating a national database for background checks of nursing home employees.

c. Older Americans Act

Originally passed in 1965 and reauthorized in 2020, this act provides funding for a variety of programs to help prevent abuse and neglect of older adults.

For more detailed information and to report abuse, California residents can contact the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) or the Department of Social Services (DSS). Both agencies play a critical role in regulating, monitoring, and enforcing the standards for nursing homes and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of residents.


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