Articles Posted in Nursing Home Negligence

The Arizona Supreme Court has reversed a summary judgment dismissing a nursing home abuse case.

Marika Delgado was the personal representative of the estate of her sister, Sandra Shaw. Delgado appealed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the defendants who were collectively Manor Care of Tucson.  On appeal, Delgado argued that the court erred in finding that the actions that allegedly caused Shaw’s death were not related to her incapacity as required by Arizona law.

Because the Arizona Supreme Court could not say as a matter of law that the alleged negligence that was a cause of Shaw’s death was unrelated to her incapacity, the state Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial judge and sent the case back for further proceedings.

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The family of Lola Norton, deceased  brought a wrongful death action against a number of defendants who were affiliated with a nursing home in which Bernard Norton’s wife, Lola  died.

Bernard and family claimed that negligent treatment caused Lola’s death. The the nursing home defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint or, in the alternative, to stay the proceedings and compel arbitration of all claims in accordance with an agreement entered into by Lola at the time she was admitted to the nursing home.

The trial court granted the motion to stay and compel arbitration, and Bernard appealed, contending that, as a wrongful death beneficiary, he could not be bound to Lola’s arbitration agreement. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and found that Lola’s beneficiaries were not required to arbitrate their wrongful death claims against the nursing home defendants.

Julio Reyes Concepcion, a 73-year-old nursing home resident of the Royal Suites Health Care & Rehabilitation facility, had a number of different medical and health problems after he suffered a stroke.  He required tube feeding at the nursing home. After a feeding, a nursing staff worker noted that he had vomited.  The nursing home staff did not notify his treating physician.  About five hours later, he was transferred to a hospital suffering from respiratory distress and aspiration pneumonia. Unfortunately, Reyes Concepcion died two days later.

His family sued the nursing home, claiming that its nursing staff negligently chose not to elevate his bed 45 degrees before or after the feeding and chose not to timely respond to signs of respiratory distress.

The jury in this case concluded that the nursing home had been negligent but determined there had been no pain and suffering. The jury’s verdict was for $250,000, which the trial judge later vacated for “excessiveness.”  The case is being retried on damages only.

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Jacob Saul was born prematurely with neurological deficiencies. He was later transferred to Cambridge Pediatrics Nursing Home for rehabilitation.

Jacob remained at the nursing home. At eight months of age, he was found unconscious and in respiratory arrest. It was later revealed that Jacob’s tracheostomy tube had dislodged and that his pulse oximeter machine had been turned off.  As a result of this situation, Jacob suffered profound brain damage that led to his blindness, a seizure disorder and deafness. Jacob is now 8 years old.

Jacob’s parents individually, and on his behalf, sued the nursing home alleging that it had negligently cared for Jacob by, among other things, choosing not to ensure that his medical equipment was properly connected. The Saul family’s expert asserted that, but for the improper connection of the equipment and his resulting brain damage, Jacob would have been able to walk with braces and eat without assistance even given his prematurity and neurological injuries.

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Robert Lankford, 69, underwent abdominal surgery. He was admitted to Life Care Center Pensacola for his recovery period. One of the nursing facility’s nurses mistakenly removed Lankford’s skin staples, which led to a wound infection. Lankford required a second surgery to close the wound.  Afterward, he was returned to Life Care Center where he was subsequently diagnosed with having C. difficile infection. Lankford later died of unrelated causes.

The Lankford family and estate filed a lawsuit against the nursing home and a related corporate entity claiming liability for its nurse’s blatant mistake of removing the staples and for the nursing home’s choosing not to adequately have in place infection control resources. The Lankford family maintained that had the nursing home been equipped properly, the infection could have been controlled, saving Lankford’s life.

The jury’s verdict was $303,300. The attorney representing the Lankford family was Clay Mitchell.

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Martha Pierce, 83, suffered a stroke and became partially paralyzed and weak on her right side. She required additional assistance from her nursing facility, the Allenbrooke Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.  One of the nursing home’s staff members identified Stage IV pressure ulcers on Pierce’s right foot. Even in view of that serious condition, the ulcers were allowed to worsen and Pierce developed sepsis. As a result, she required an above-the-knee amputation of her right leg and died four months later.

Pierce’s estate and family sued the nursing home and several corporate entities, claiming negligence in violation of the state’s Nursing Home Protection Act. The jury entered a verdict of $30 million, which included $28 million in punitive damages.

The attorneys representing Martha Pierce’s family were Kenneth L. Connor, Carey Acerra and Cameron Jehl.

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Sophia Alcon, 77, was admitted to Life Care Center of Pueblo, a skilled nursing facility. During the 7 months that she remained there, she suffered various injuries and illnesses, including urinary tract infections, bed sores, dehydration, malnutrition, pain, renal failure and aspiration pneumonia. She was brought to a nearby hospital where a staff medical provider noticed that her vagina was packed with dried feces. She died as a result of her medical conditions and is survived by her 10 adult children.

One of her sons, on her behalf and for the family, sued the nursing home and its corporate affiliates maintaining that they were responsible for her death. In the complaint it was alleged that the nursing home was negligent, was responsible for her wrongful death and was guilty of numerous consumer protection violations. Among other things, the Alcon family alleged that the defendants chose not to properly assess Sophia’s medical needs, formulate an appropriate care plan, provide adequate staffing and properly trained personnel at this skilled nursing facility.

The jury’s verdict of $5.56 million, included $5 million in punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendants for the abusive treatment to Sophia Alcon.

According to recent reports by the National Center on Elder Abuse — Administration of Aging (Department of Health and Human Services), America’s expanding elderly population has led to an increase in elder abuse.

It is predicted that by 2050, people 65 and older will make up 20% of the total U.S. population. Today, the fastest growing segment of America’s population consists of those 85 years and older. In 2010, there were about 5.8 million people 85 or older. By the year 2050, it is projected that there will be 19 million people over 85.

“Elder abuse” is defined as intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether the harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who is in a trust relationship with the elder. Other abuse includes the failure of caregivers to provide the basic needs of an older adult or to protect the elder from harm from others.

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Genevieve Thompson, 74, was hospitalized and required assistance with all activities of daily living due to her long list of health problems. One of them included morbid obesity.

During her hospitalization, she developed a Stage II pressure sore, which was documented two days before she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation.

About a week and a half into the nursing home residency, she was transferred back to the hospital where she was diagnosed with sepsis. She required debridement and other wound treatment for the bed sores, which by then had worsened. She required institutional care at the hospital for the next several months.

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Mary, 77, suffered from an end-stage renal disease and required a wheelchair due to left-sided weakness that resulted from a stroke. Mary lived at a nursing home facility, Beachwood Pointe Care Center, with her husband who also used a wheelchair.

When the nursing home’s staff chose not to bring Mary to the facility’s dining room, her husband threw a belt over his shoulder and “towed” Mary — in her wheelchair — to the eating area. As the couple rounded a corner, Mary’s wheelchair caught on a doorframe, which caused her to fall to the floor. Mary suffered a broken leg in the fall, but it went undiagnosed for two days until the nursing home’s staff at her dialysis center noticed the injury and sent her to the hospital.

After Mary returned to the nursing home, she developed multiple bed sores. This included two Stage IV sores on her buttocks, which became infected and led to sepsis from which she later died.

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