Federal Prosecutors Slam Nursing Homes

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Two nursing homes in Watsonville, Calif., "severely overmedicated" residents, some of whom died, due to the homes' "worthless services," federal prosecutors say.
     The United States sued the ARBA Group, of Los Angeles, and its Country Villa Watsonville East Nursing Center and Country Villa Watsonville West Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, on Aug. 29.
     "Between 2007 and 2012, defendants persistently and severely overmedicated elderly and vulnerable residents of the facilities ... causing infection, sepsis, malnutrition, dehydration, falls, fractures, pressure ulcers, and for some residents, premature death," the lawsuit states. "For these and other reasons, during this period defendants provided no-existent, grossly inadequate, materially substandard, and/or worthless services to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, in violation of Medicare and Medicaid requirements.
     "Defendants were well informed about the many failures of care at the facilities. Top level officials of each of the Defendants received numerous reports from the facilities' pharmacist about overmedication and other medication failures, as well as notice of lawsuits filed by residents and their families and complaints filed with California state agencies.
     "Notwithstanding their knowledge of the numerous failures of care, defendants submitted, or caused to be submitted, Medicare and Medi-Cal claims for such nonexistent, grossly inadequate, materially substandard and/or worthless services, all the while falsely representing and compliance with the Medicare and Medicaid requirements."
     The United States seeks civil penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 for each violation of the False Claims Act, plus treble damages, and damages for unjust enrichment and payment by mistake.