The family of an 87-year-old California woman wanted to ensure she was taken care of. That’s why they invested in one of the best regional facilities money could buy for her elder age care. And yet, she still succumbed to one of the most unnecessary and painful forms of death: Complication from pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores.
Her untimely death, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, spurred a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility that recently resulted in a $1 million settlement.
Medical records indicated the woman died from sepsis after nursing home staffers allegedly erred in treating a pressure ulcer on her back. Proper care was not received until the sore became heavily infected, at which point it was too late to reverse the effects.
Patients at this facility were charged $100,000 a year to stay in this facility. Our nursing home abuse lawyers know this case is a good example of the fact that no matter how much you invest in your loved one’s care, there is no guarantee there won’t be mistakes or failed oversight.
Said the attorney who represented her survivors during settlement negotiations: “It’s really important that people watch very carefully, no matter what nursing home their loved one gets into.”
We couldn’t agree more.
The corporation that operates this facility and three others just in that region alone was recently purchased by another firm for $1.4 billion in stock.
While a $1 million settlement may not seem like much in terms of accountability for company of this size, it is in fact significant because damages for simple negligence in that state are capped at $250,000 by state law. That the facility is agreeing – without a trial – to pay four times that is huge. Plus, the firm waived the confidentiality clause, allowing family members to discuss the case.
These kind of corporate mergers that turn the care of our most vulnerable residents into a giant profit source are deeply troubling when we examine the outcomes. Researchers have concluded time and again that for-profit nursing homes overcharge patients for care, but the quality suffers. A 2012 report by federal health care inspectors revealed the for-profit nursing home industry charges Medicare $1.5 billion annually for treatments patients don’t need or never get.
A representative of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform told local news reporters the settlement award in the most recent case sends a clear message that wrongdoing occurred. She noted that when large, for-profit chains attempt to provide health care, they often fail. This usually has to do with the fact that they are more focused on their bottom line than on the quality of the care. The care becomes a means to an end rather than the end.
The victim in this case was a former civilian airline spotter during WWII who got married, became a mother and eventually became a pilot herself.
She was first admitted to the nursing home after suffering a bout of cellulitis. At the time, the staff noted on her admissions paperwork that she had a small bedsore on her back. However, it should not have caused her major problems if it was treated immediately. That did not happen.
The wound doubled in size until the facility downgraded her treatment from skilled nursing to assisted living. Four days later, she was admitted to the hospital with a serious infection that was identified by a specialist. She died little more than a week later.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Emeritus at Santa Rosa nursing home to pay $1 million in settlement, Feb. 23, 2016, By Paul Payne, The Press Democrat
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Feds: Biggest Nursing Home in Nation to Pay $125M for False Claims, Feb. 11, 2016, Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog