Articles Posted in Inadequate staffing

Guillermina Ruvalcaba suffered from various health conditions, including dementia and neuropathy. She had also undergone bilateral leg amputations.

After being hospitalized for diabetic ketoacidosis, she was admitted to Hacienda Heights Healthcare & Wellness Centre, an unlicensed skilled nursing facility.

Ruvalcaba’s admission assessment indicated that she was a fall risk due to her leg amputations. Approximately one month later, she wheeled herself without assistance to the facility’s day room. While still unsupervised, she fell out of her wheelchair and suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage. An investigation into the incident led to a nursing director’s determination that her fall was unavoidable.

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Louise High was admitted to Brandywine Senior Living at Upper Providence.  At the time of her admission, High suffered from dementia, hypertension, a bladder tumor and gait dysfunction. Because of these conditions, she was required to receive help with medication and activities of daily living.

During the second week of High’s admission to this facility, the staff at the nursing home found her on the floor of her room, clutching her right hip.  Later that day, she fell on her right side and vomited.

She was taken to a hospital emergency room where she was diagnosed as having a fractured hip and sepsis. Her condition continued to decline. She died several months later and was survived by her two adult sons.

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Toni Gethers was an elderly woman who suffered from numerous health issues and required assistance with activities of daily living. She was admitted to Hillcrest Center Nursing Facility for a short-term stay.

Over the next five months, she developed a worsening Stage III pressure ulcer, dehydration and acute renal failure among other medical problems.

She also experienced significant weight loss and was hospitalized several times, including once for treatment of pneumonia and osteomyelitis of the sacrum. Her injuries eventually led to her passing. She was survived by her two adult sons.

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Sarah Fortner suffered from dementia, osteoporosis, and had other health problems. She lived at the Carolina Gardens at Lexington Assisted Living Facilities. Over a 5-year period, she fell several times. She suffered various injuries including a fractured arm, a skin tear, a forehead hematoma and a fractured femur. After her last fall, she passed away.

The family and the estate of Fortner sued the facility’s licensees, owners, managers and operators, alleging negligence; negligence per se; negligent hiring, training and supervision; and breach of fiduciary duty.

The Fortner estate claimed that the defendants had chosen not to prevent Fortner’s falls or determine the root cause of these falls. In addition, the lawsuit alleged that the defendant nursing home owners, operators, managers had failed to provide supervised care and properly train its staff.

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Dethel Bell, 84, was a resident at Palm Garden of West Palm Beach Nursing Home.  While a nursing aide was performing a transfer, she was dropped to the floor suffering a broken hip that required surgery to repair it. Her injuries led to “pain and suffering and inability to trust her caregivers.”

Through her attorney-in-fact, Bell sued the nursing home, alleging negligent failure to provide appropriate services, negligent hiring, retention, and supervision. It also alleged that the nursing aide’s acts led to the liability of the nursing home by way of vicarious liability.

At arbitration, an award of $197,100 was entered, including $130,000 for Bell’s mental anguish.

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After being hospitalized for a stroke, Calvin Thigpen, 68, was admitted to Waters Edge Rehabilitation & Care Center in a vegetative state. During approximately the next six months, he developed pressure sores on his sacrum, his heel and the back of his head. In addition, he suffered infections and a tear to his penis.

After his death, Thigpen’s estate sued the nursing home, its owner, and its operating company, alleging negligent care and inadequate staffing.

The nursing home and its owner defaulted. The court entered a judgment in the amount of $1.4 million in favor of the Thigpen estate. It was not reported as to whether the sum was recovered.

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Pura Figueroa, 93, suffered from Parkinson’s disease and dementia and lived at the Muskego Nursing Home. While she was in the nursing home’s activity room with approximately eleven other residents, she fell, suffering a subdural hematoma and a facial laceration.

Figueroa died a few days later.  She was survived by her adult daughter.

Figueroa’s daughter, on behalf of her estate, sued the nursing home alleging that it chose not to properly monitor her mother, failed to adequately train employees, and failed to provide adequate staff.

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Muriel Eastwick was in her 90s and suffered from dementia. She lived at Statesman Health and Rehabilitation Services, a skilled nursing facility owned by Extendicare and other entities.

During the years that she lived at this facility, she suffered from malnutrition, dehydration, chronic urinary tract infections, broken teeth, skin problems and bruising, an infected hip wound, an abscess on her buttock, and a Stage III pressure sore on her left heel.

Eastwick eventually died from these health issues. She was survived by her two adult children.  Her daughter, on behalf of her mother’s estate, sued Extendicare Inc., alleging negligent hiring and staffing, choosing not to provide adequate hygiene and nutrition, and deciding not to prevent and treat the pressure sore that Eastwick had developed.

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A nursing home resident, Verna Kelley, suffered from dementia and other medical issues including incontinence. She required special care and was living at Edgewood Convalescent Home. While a nurse’s aide was taking care of her and while the nursing aide placed a pad underneath Kelley, the aide went around to the other side of the bed, where the bed rails were left opened. The aide grabbed the pad, which had become stuck, and this caused Kelley to roll out of bed.

Kelley suffered a broken right femur and underwent surgery.  She then suffered a stroke, which led to her death just two weeks later. She was survived by her six adult children.

The Kelley family sued the nursing home, alleging negligent hiring of the aide, who, the Kelley family claimed, had been fired from a previous job for performing an unsafe Hoyer lift.

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Louise Reese, 100, lived at Harbison Hall Assisted Living. While an employee of the facility was helping her get up from the commode, she dropped her to the floor. Reese suffered bilateral femur fractures.  Without further examination, the employee of the facility put her back in her bed and covered her up with bed sheets and blankets.

When a hospice aide arrived to see Reese, she found her moaning in pain. The aide also discovered severe swelling and bruising around Reese’s knees and lower thighs. X-rays revealed the femur fractures in both legs. Although Reese was transported to a hospital for care and treatment, she unfortunately died the next day.

Reese’s estate sued Harbison Hall alleging that its employee chose not to protect the patient while moving her from the commode to a wheelchair. It was also alleged that the employee failed to call for help when she dropped Reese and failed to evaluate her. There was also an allegation that the assisted living facility and its employees decided not to report the fall to Reese’s family. The lawsuit also alleged inadequate staff training. It may be obvious, but it seems likely that the nursing aide or employee elected to hide her condition under the bed clothes after she dropped Reese to the floor and elected not to tell anyone about the fall, which undoubtedly severely injured the fragile 100-year-old woman.

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