(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.
Physicians and other health care providers, as well as hospitals, can be held liable under the elder abuse statutes. That was the holding in Mack v. Soung (2000) 80 Cal.App. 4th 966. Such persons have “care and custody of an elder” within the meaning of the elder abuse statutes when they undertake to care for an elder. The court summed up its holding as follows:
Delaney establishes that health care providers are not exempt from liability for reckless neglect simply because the cause of action arises from the rendition of health care services. Mack v. Soung, supra, at 974.
Each of the required elements of proof to support a claim for reckless neglect of an elder is set out in the First Amended Complaint and is supported by specifically alleged facts. Those allegations together may be summarized as follows:
Katy Smith, an elder and dependent adult within the meaning of the Elder Abuse Statutes (W&I Code §15600 et seq.), was admitted to Nationwide Hospital on September 25, 2007. She was diagnosed with a cervical spine fracture. Ms. Smith had pre-existing paraplegia. For this reason and because she had a neck fracture, she was at high risk for the development of pressure ulcers.
Pressure ulcers are preventable in an acute care hospital. Nursing care plans are customarily developed which assess a patient’s risk for skin breakdown and develop a care plan to prevent it. The typical interventions are regular turning and repositioning, good hydration and nutrition, a pressure relieving mattress and frequent assessment.
When Ms. Smith entered Nationwide Hospital on September 25, 2007, her skin assessment showed no wound or pressure ulcer. Ms. Smith required turning every two hours around the clock. The nursing records disclose that the necessary intervention did not occur on multiple occasions, with periods of 3 hours, 4 hours, and 7 hours where there was no turning.
By the time Ms. Smith was discharged from Nationwide Hospital on October 4, 2007, she had developed pressure ulcers which progressed and worsened after her discharge. (See Part 6 of 6.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.