Nursing Home Held Liable for Improper Treatment of Patient’s Respiratory Distress

Carolyn Cauffiel was 75 and had a history of pneumonia. She was admitted to the Heartland Rehabilitation and Care Center for a five-month period.

While she was there, she complained of breathing problems. An attending nursing home nurse came to assist her but did not auscultate her lung sounds. Auscultate is a Latin verb to listen to the internal sounds of the body, usually using a stethoscope. Auscultation is done for the purposes of examining the circulatory and respiratory systems (heart and breath sounds), as well as listening to the gastrointestinal system for sounds.

The nurse then told her colleague that Cauffiel’s lungs were clear and that she was “faking it” (breathing problems).

The next day another nurse did in fact listen to Cauffiel’s lungs and noted they were full, meaning they were perhaps filled with unwanted fluids possibly caused by pneumonia.

Cauffiel was taken by ambulance to a hospital where she was treated and released. She was subsequently readmitted to the hospital and later died of respiratory failure.

Cauffiel is survived by her two adult children.

The Cauffiel family and estate sued the nursing home owner alleging that the defendant’s staff chose not to timely auscultate or listen to Cauffiel’s lungs and administer nebulizer treatments. A nebulizer is a machine that turns medication into a mist that can be inhaled by use of an aerosol or powder to inhale by mouth using an inhaler. This is used for persons with difficulty breathing, particularly those suffering from asthma or in this case, a person whose lungs were filled with fluids.

The jury signed a verdict for more than $30,800 for Cauffiel’s pain and suffering. The case is on appeal. From a reporting of this case, it seems apparent that the jury did not include in its verdict damages for the wrongful death of Cauffiel or other damages.

The attorneys representing the Cauffiel family were Brian Reddick, John Hout and Robert Francis.

At trial, the Cauffiel attorneys presented experts in geriatrics and nursing.

Cauffiel v. Progressive Eldercare SCRV, No. 63-CV-2013-00355 (Ark. Cir. Ct. Saline County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling wrongful death lawsuits, nursing home negligence cases, traumatic brain injury lawsuits, nursing home bed sore cases, nursing home fall injury lawsuits and nursing home abuse lawsuits for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Oak Park, Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Niles, LaGrange, Western Springs, Alsip, Rosemont, Carol Stream, Bloomingdale, Lake Zurich, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Lombard, Villa Park, Elwood, Frankfort, Wilmington, North Aurora, South Elgin, West Dundee, Chicago (Washington Heights, Stockyards, Marquette Park, Hegewisch, East Side, Oakland, Chinatown, Near Southside, West Loop, West Town, Garfield Park, Austin, Belmont Heights, Diversey Harbor, Ravenswood, Uptown, Edgewater, Sauganash, Edgebrook, Norwood Park), Morton Grove, Northfield, Glenview, Northbrook and Wheeling, Ill.

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