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Attorney General Lockyer Announces Criminal Conviction of Nursing Home Administrator
(RIVERSIDE, Calif.) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced today the successful criminal conviction of a nursing home administrator who failed to comply with the state's elder and dependent adult abuse mandatory reporting law.
"This prosecution sends a clear message that elder and dependent adult abuse is a crime and so is failing to report it," Lockyer said. "People must take seriously their responsibility and obligation to report elder and dependent adult abuse."
California's mandatory reporting law can be found in Welfare and Institutions Code section 15630. It states, in part, that certain individuals – such as all health practitioners and all employees in a long-term health care facility – report known or suspected instances of elder or dependent adult abuse. Failure to do so is a crime.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Robert J. McIntyre ruled today that defendant Deborah Davis was guilty of failing to report an incident of abuse committed by one of her employees at Vista Pacifica Center, located in Riverside County. Sentencing for Davis is set for May 31, 2002 at 8:30 a.m.
An investigation conducted by the Attorney General's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse found that the facility's policy required staff to report suspected abuse up the chain of command to Davis, who would have the ultimate responsibility of deciding whether or not to report an incident to outside authorities. Davis chose to not report the matter despite several of her staff opining that the incident did indeed constitute abuse and should be reported.
The investigation was launched after a former employee of the facility blew the whistle and notified the California Department of Health Services. The person responsible for the underlying incident of abuse was convicted by the Attorney General for criminal dependent adult abuse.
"To address the serious under-reporting problem in nursing homes, I will be releasing next month important training materials for nursing home staff and administrators," Lockyer said. "The training manuals and accompanying video will help nursing home staff recognize and report elder and dependent adult abuse."
Since becoming Attorney General in January 1999, Lockyer has added 20 new prosecutors and investigators to the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse to aggressively combat abuse, neglect and poor quality of care problems in skilled nursing facilities. As a result, over the course of the past three years, the Attorney General has filed almost four times the number of cases than were filed in the prior five years combined, including the state's first convictions of poor-performing nursing homes. Late last year, the Attorney General received a national award from the United States Department of Health and Human Services for having the top-performing health care fraud and elder abuse prosecutorial program in the country.