SNF to pay $345,000 to settle class-action lawsuit over drug prescribing practices

Share this content:

A California skilled nursing facility has agreed to pay $345,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming the highly-rated provider prescribed residents psychotropic drugs without consent from them or their representatives.

The suit was filed against Mary Health of the Sick Convalescent and Nursing Hospital in Newbury Park, CA, by relatives of former residents who claimed the facility prescribed drugs with black box warnings to residents without properly explaining the possible side effects or receiving consent from residents, their family members or representatives. The suit also argued that staff members signed forms saying facility physicians received consent from residents or families to prescribe the drugs when they had not. 

The class in the suit included 57 former residents who received the drugs over a three-year period; they will each receive $500 from the settlement. The two families who spearheaded the suit will each receive $5,000, while the rest of the settlement will be put toward legal fees and costs. 

The facility, operated by nuns with the Servants of Mary, Ministers of the Sick, denied wrongdoing in the settlement, which was reached in Ventura County Superior Court in May. Mary Health of the Sick also will be required to send letters to its physicians explaining prescribing consent, and be subject to visits by an independent monitor to make sure the provider is following prescribing protocol.

Dawn Phleger, an attorney for the facility, told the Ventura County Star this week that “the sisters had a really good reputation in the community and we wanted to make sure they were able to keep that reputation going.” Phleger said that the facility, which has a five-star rating, chose to settle to devote resources to resident care instead of litigation.