A pending investigation by the California Department of Health Care Services could result in the closure and revocation of the license of a Costa Mesa detox facility after a patient died there earlier this month. The facility, Pacific Coast Detox, is accused of falsifying patient records to cover up liability in the death.

On November, according to court documents, an unidentified male patient died while detoxing at Pacific Coast. While state certification standards require a newly admitted patient to be checked at least every 30 minutes during the first 12 hours after admission, officials say that’s not what happened. In fact, court documents allege, “staff entered false information in decedent’s file,” the documents say, presumably to make it appear that they followed regulations.

When checking in at some point on November 7th, staff found the male patient unconscious and attempted to wake him without success. But once this happened, officials say that two staff members made false entries stating that the patient had been observed twice earlier that evening. When investigators looked at the security camera footage, however, they discovered that the patient was checked only once, although it’s unclear what time of the evening the bed checks were made.

Detoxification centers are usually required to provide medical supervision during the withdrawal process, due to the complications that can arise from detox during alcohol, opiate, and poly drug users. Many drug users have underlying health conditions that can be exacerbated when enduring the stress of physical withdrawal. Usually monitoring will include checking on vital signs such as pulse and temperature. Depending on the severity of symptoms, medications may be ordered to treat symptoms of withdrawal. Monitoring is especially important because of the danger of complications that can arise from opiate withdrawal, which can be medically dangerous even to the young and relatively healthy when they experience it. Withdrawals usually include pains such as cramps, nausea, sweating, shaking and cravings. These are just a few symptoms that it is recommended be addressed with medically supervised detoxification. Many detox centers will also provide therapeutic support, such as 12 steps meetings and peer groups, to help their patients begin on a path to recovery.

State spokeswoman Carol Sloan says Pacific Coast’s license is suspended pending the outcome of the revocation hearing, which was requested by Pacific Coast, although the hearing date has not yet been set.


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