A federal judge says the appeals backlog is not "egregious."
A federal judge says the appeals backlog is not “egregious.”

Two California nursing homes routinely overmedicated residents with antipsychotics and other drugs “for the convenience of management,” according to federal charges announced Wednesday by the Office of Inspector General.

The alleged practices occurred between 2007 and 2012 at the 87-bed Country Villa Watsonville East Nursing Center and the 95-bed Country Villa Watsonville West Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the complaint states. In April, the facilities were renamed Watsonville Nursing Center and Watsonville Post-Acute Care Center, respectively.

A man who entered Country Villa West in 2009 was given the antipsychotics Haldol and Risperdal without his consent or his family’s consent, and without physician orders, the complaint charges. Within two weeks, he was taken to the hospital with heart failure symptoms and was diagnosed with a host of conditions including an infected pressure ulcer and sepsis. This is presented in the complaint as one example of the “non-existent, grossly inadequate, materially substandard, and/or worthless services” for which the nursing homes billed Medicare and Medicaid, in violation of the False Claims Act.

Calling the accusations “baseless” in a prepared statement, management company The Arba Group added, “We attempted to voluntarily present evidence to the government, to establish this reality, but they declined to receive this evidence.”

The complaint names Arba and other owners, operators and managers associated with the for-profit facilities as defendants. The government is seeking civil penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 for each False Claims Act violation. The charges stem from an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the OIG.