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Lawsuit Filed: Man Develops Horrific Stage IV Bedsore

Garcia & Artigliere

Arcadia, Calif. — Joseph Arriaga, a 67-year-old man, was admitted to Methodist Hospital of Southern California after suffering a fall in his home. It’s alleged that while he was a patient at the hospital, Arriaga developed severe bedsore and other injuries, and the hospital wrongfully withheld care that would have prevented the injuries and did not treat the worsening injuries. During his stay at the hospital, Arriaga suffered from excruciating pain due to skin breakdown. He later underwent several surgeries at a different hospital to treat his injuries, including two procedures to remove dead skin tissue from the bedsore wound. He remains hospitalized at Kindred Hospital San Gabriel Valley. According to the lawsuit, Arriaga’s substandard care was the direct result of the financial limitations and procedures forced upon Methodist Hospital of Southern California by its operators as they sought to maximize profits.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Methodist Hospital of Southern California for elder abuse.

“The pain and suffering that Joseph has endured were completely avoidable because hospital staff knew when he was admitted that he was at high risk of developing bedsores,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “The hospital’s alleged reckless conduct in ignoring Joseph’s needs, including leaving him lying on his back unturned for extended periods of time, is inexcusable. By underfunding and understaffing the hospital, they made a conscious choice to put profits over patient care. The hospital’s rampant regulatory violations are well-documented in deficiencies issued by the State of California’s Department of Public Health.”

Allegations and Background

On March 17, 2018, Arriaga suffered a fall at his home and went to Methodist Hospital of Southern California’s emergency room accompanied by his daughter. On arrival at the hospital, Arriaga complained about stiffness in his neck. Additionally, his daughter advised hospital staff that since falling, Arriaga was mildly confused and unusually very weak. She also told the staff that Arriaga had told her that he fell while falling asleep. Arriaga was found to be dehydrated and the hospital provided him with IV fluids. That same day, the hospital released Arriaga. The hospital did not perform an MRI prior to his release.

On or about March 20, 2018, Arriaga had a follow-up evaluation with his then-primary care physician, Dr. Cheng. The lawsuit alleges that Arriaga had grown so weak in the three days since being released from the hospital that he needed a cane to walk. His physician ordered further lab tests and released Arriaga to go home. Again, no MRI was performed.

Later that day, Arriaga slipped and fell. He was unable to get himself up and was disoriented after the incident. His daughters called 911 and Arriaga was brought back to the hospital emergency department. He had a 103-degree fever and a septic infection. Minutes after admission, Arriaga became paralyzed. Despite performing multiple MRI’s and treatments, hospital staff claimed they could not determine why or how Arriaga had become paralyzed, the suit states. His family was told he was suffering from Sjogren's syndrome, an immune system disorder.

The suit alleges that upon readmission to the hospital, Arriaga’s skin was beginning to break down and he was suffering uncontrollable pain resulting from his rapid deterioration prior to readmission. He developed a bedsore on his coccyx area that, at one point, measured approximately 9×11 centimeters.

Unfortunately, the hospital wrongfully withheld the necessary and required assessment of Arriaga and management of his pain, the suit alleges. His family observed him on multiple occasions grimacing in pain or acting as though he was “out of his mind” because of overmedication.

In early April 2018, Arriaga was discharged from the hospital. After leaving, he endured multiple stays at several different skilled nursing facilities and hospitals.

At the end of May 2018, Arriaga’s daughter changed his primary care physician. His new primary care physician, Dr. Qawi, ordered that Arriaga be transferred to Intercommunity Hospital in Covina. An MRI was performed there that showed Arriaga had swelling to his spinal cord. Dr. Qawi informed Arriaga that the swelling was the cause of his paralysis. According to Dr. Qawi, the spinal condition would have been detected if Methodist Hospital of Southern California had performed an MRI when Arriaga first came to the hospital’s emergency room on March 17, 2018.

At Intercommunity Hospital, Arriaga underwent surgery to drain the fluid from his spinal cord. He also had two skin debridement procedures to remove dead tissue from the bedsore, and underwent a temporary colostomy surgery to keep feces away from the wound and allow it to heal.

In early July, Arriaga was discharged from Intercommunity Hospital to Kindred Hospital San Gabriel Valley, where he remains a resident.


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