Employees Charged With Elder Abuse Following Sting Operation at Escondido Facility
Twelve employees at SunBridge Care & Rehabilitation for Escondido-East were arrested this week on felony charges of elder abuse following a sting operation that marked the first time that the attorney general's office used a hidden video camera to detect patient neglect, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. After receiving complaints about the quality of care provided at the 98-bed facility, the attorney general's office obtained the consent of a patient's family to conduct the covert investigation last year between Oct. 16 and Oct. 21 (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/9). The investigation found that nursing assistants and licensed vocational nurses had skipped routine care for the patient and did not take appropriate measures to protect her from bedsores (Los Angeles Times, 1/9). Documents filed in San Diego Superior Court allege that the 12 employees "did, under circumstances and conditions likely to produce great bodily harm and death ... willfully cause and permit [the patient] to be placed in a situation in which [the patient's] health was endangered." According to Hallye Jordan, spokesperson for Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D), the charges involve "subtle acts of omission and neglect" that did not endanger the patient's life but would have if they had been permitted to continue. Ten of the defendants also were charged with a misdemeanor for falsifying the patient's medical records. Neither Sun Bridge nor Sun Healthcare Group, SunBridge's parent company, has been charged as a result of the investigation. A pending open investigation into the facility began shortly after the surveillance, and a separate investigation of the facility conducted by licensing and certification officials with the Department of Health Services began this week (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/9). The employees are scheduled to be arraigned next week (Los Angeles Times, 1/9). The surveillance was prompted in part by state efforts to ensure that Sun Healthcare Group was complying with a 2001 court order to implement operational changes to ensure residents' health and well-being (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.