California Nursing Homes Accused of ‘Severely Overmedicating’ Patients

iStock_000009293508SmallTwo northern California nursing homes, owned by Arba Group, are the subjects of a False Claims lawsuit that claims they “severely overmedicated” their patients, causing injuries and death. The two homes allegedly received over $20 million in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements between 2007 and 2012. During this time, the both homes allegedly overmedicated their patients in order to ease their workload.

The lawsuit cites numerous instances in which patients at Country Villa Watsonville East Nursing Center (now called Watsonville Nursing Center) and Country Villa Watsonville West Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (now called Watsonville Post-Acute Center) were harmed by overused medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and painkillers.

In 2009, one of the nursing facilities allegedly administered a double dose of Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, and ordered two new antipsychotics for an 86-year-old man that had recently been admitted the facility. Eight days later, the man was in an emergency room with symptoms of heart failure. Doctors said he had an infected bed sore, a blood infection and was suffering from malnutrition and dehydration.

The same year, a 101-year-old woman was given a drug cocktail shortly after being admitted consisting of antidepressants Paxil and Trazodone, an antipsychotic called Zyprexa, a sedative called Ativan and painkiller morphine. Two days later, the woman lost consciousness, fell and died.

According to the complaint, medication costs at these facilities were in the tens of thousands of dollars per patient. In addition to Arba, the lawsuit names Country Villa Health Service Corp., which acted as a management consultant for the two Watsonville nursing facilities. Arba has filed a cross-complaint against Country Villa, alleging that the management consultant made false statements concerning how the nursing facilities were run during the time the alleged fraud took place.