(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this elder abuse/personal injury case and its proceedings.)
It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this case could just as easily occur at any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser, U.C. Davis Medical Center, Mercy, or Sutter.
As set forth below, the development of pressure ulcers in this paraplegic patient was not the result of an isolated episode of inadvertence by a Nationwide Hospital employee. Rather, this entirely preventable injury was caused by repeated episodes of neglect over a period of days by multiple employees of Nationwide Hospital.
In order to be entitled to enhanced remedies, plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted with recklessness, i.e. engaging in conduct while appreciating the probability that the conduct would cause harm. The First Amended Complaint sets forth facts alleging such conduct on the part of managing agents of its acute care hospital. They describe a systemic breakdown in the carrying out of well-established pressure ulcer prevention protocols by multiple caregivers over multiple days. That breakdown is alleged to have been caused by improper training, improper supervision, improper chart review, improper competency assessment and/or improper staffing levels, or a combination of these factors.
The fact that an extremely vulnerable and virtually helpless patient was permitted to develop pressure ulcers is all the more culpable because pressure ulcers are preventable without extraordinary effort on the part of an acute care hospital The development of Stage 3 or 4 pressure ulcers at an acute care hospital has been categorized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as a Never Even because they are reasonably preventable through application of evidence based guidelines. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Program, Changes to the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems and Fiscal Year 2008 Rates; Final Rule ; Federal Register (2007) 72(162); 47130-48175.
It is a hospital management problem if patients in an acute care hospital develop pressure ulcers. Further, as alleged in the First Amended Complaint, the failure of a facility to have proper training, staffing, supervision, chart review, care planning, and competency assessment in place as part of a pressure ulcer prevention program carries with it the probability that patients will suffer unnecessary injury.
If plaintiff were to prove every fact alleged in the First Amended Complaint, she would be entitled to a verdict based upon reckless neglect of an elder. That being the case, defendant’s demurrer is without merit.
For the foregoing reasons and for the reason given in plaintiff’s accompanying memorandum in opposition to defendant’s motions to strike plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint states a cause of action for reckless neglect of an elder in violation of Welfare & Institutions Code § 15600 et seq. The demurrer should, therefore, be overruled
In the event the court finds any merit to defendant’s demurrer, plaintiff respectfully requests leave to amend.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.