2 Nursing Homes Cited in Deaths of Patients

Times Staff Writer

The state Department of Health Services on Friday issued its most serious type of citations and fines to two Southern California nursing homes after determining that substandard care led to two patient deaths.

The state fined Good Shepherd Care Center on Kagel Canyon Road in Lakeview Terrace $100,000 in the case of a 73-year-old woman who smoked in bed, set fire to the bedclothes and ultimately died of her injuries.

Also cited was Brighton Gardens of Camarillo, in Ventura County, where an 84-year-old woman died. She had fallen and hit her head as two nursing assistants tried to transfer her from a wheelchair to her bed. The facility was fined $60,000.

Jay Hartz, attorney for Good Shepherd, said he received the citation late Friday and had not had time to review it. Brighton Gardens administrators did not return a telephone call for comment Friday afternoon.

In both cases, state inspectors found that the patients' physical condition and psychological histories warranted special care and monitoring by the staff.

The woman who died at Good Shepherd after setting her bed on fire had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression and altered mental states, along with other medical conditions. She was a chronic smoker who previously had not complied with the facility's regulations, and the staff should have monitored her to ensure she did not smoke in her room, the citation states.

At Brighton Gardens, the nursing home's records showed that the 84-year-old patient needed special attention when being moved. She suffered from impaired vision, balance and behavioral problems, and had fallen 10 times during her first year at the facility.

Both facilities must immediately develop plans to prevent such lapses, but do not have to pay the fines until any appeals have been adjudicated.

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