U.S. Attny: Unnecessary Drugs = Inadequate, Substandard, and Worthless Services

In a thunderbolt from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, two Country Villa nursing homes in Watsonville have been sued for False Claims Act violations related to the overmedication of residents, many of whom had dementia and were chemically restrained. The lawsuit essentially seeks a refund of taxpayer dollars, paid to the facilities through Medicare and Medi-Cal, because the money was spent on poor care that was “non-existent, grossly inadequate, materially substandard, and/or worthless services.”

The lawsuit is noteworthy for three reasons:

  1. the complaint lists several cases where the state Department of Public Health had found terrible care and major violations over several years and yet no real actions were taken to protect the residents from Country Villa’s overmedication practices;
  2. the federal government has made a major case against two nursing homes for misusing psychotropic drugs;
  3. the misuse described in the complaint (“as chemical restraints for the convenience of management . . . without evidence of medical necessity or evidence of clinical medical need”) remains standard operating procedure for an alarming number of nursing homes in California. 78 nursing homes in California still give antipsychotics, the most powerful chemical restraint, to more than half of their residents.

If DPH had forced these two facilities to clean up their act when their bad deeds were discovered, there would be no federal case.  Kudos to the U.S. Attorney for having California’s back.

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About achicotel

Anthony Chicotel is a staff attorney for CANHR. His areas of expertise include the rights of long-term care residents, nursing home litigation, health care decision-making, and conservatorships.
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One Response to U.S. Attny: Unnecessary Drugs = Inadequate, Substandard, and Worthless Services

  1. evankopa says:

    As a pharmacy consultant in five SKF’s, the subject of prescribing AP’s for residents with Dementia w Behaviors is complicated by the same resident having a long previous history of schizophrenia, whose DX of dementia w behaviors came years after the resident was DX with schizophrenia. Your article is not helpful to us folks on the front lines, because does having a recent DX of dementia w b, negate the suggested use of say Risperdal to treat schizophrenia. Are you suggesting that the AP should be DC’ed because of an increased change of mortality because of Dementia.

    Some of these residents with comorbidites of mental D/O’s have violent outbursts – throwing furniture, hitting other residents, striking out at staff, yelling, screaming, and other behaviors that may be a danger to self and others. I think it is irresponsible to hid behind factual data, to DC psych meds in a blanket fashion, without examining the individual resident. We have attempted non-pharmacological interventions to control violent behavior including redirection, periods of sunlight, playing music, bingo, massage to mention some. We regularly attempt GDR’s on all psych meds. In many cases nothing ameliorates violent behavior, so they are returned to a therapeutic dosage of a psych med to help the resident deal with their irrational and violent behaviors. So I am sunk in dilemma, as neither course is satisfactory, for the resident who may have schizophrenia and dementia w violent behaviors, as the facility may be penalized for having a resident on a AP when they have Dem w B, but if they don’t receive it they may hurt themselves or others.
    Evan Kopald Rph

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