Elderly Man Suffers Hip Fracture
Huntington Park, Calif. – Nicolas Perez Luna, an elderly man, was hospitalized for pneumonia at PIH Downey Hospital in 2017. During that stay, his family was informed that he needed 24/7 care due to his conditions and risk factors, including protecting him from falls given his conditions upon admission as a blind, diabetic resident requiring dialysis treatment three times per week, and suffering from conditions which left him dependent on facility staff for his activities of daily living. Luna was then admitted to Huntington Park Nursing Center and it’s alleged that during his stay, he suffered a preventable fall from his wheelchair resulting in a hip fracture, and was repeatedly and unnecessarily overmedicated and chemically restrained. The Complaint states that the facility wrongfully and consistently withheld the required services and interventions from Luna and other residents in order to maximize profits.
Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Huntington Park Nursing Center for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.
“It’s our position that Huntington Park Nursing Center’s substandard provision of care to patients, including Nicolas, was a conscious decision,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “The facility was repeatedly issued deficiencies by the Department of Public Health for failure to provide the patient care they promised and are required to perform as a licensed healthcare facility, but chose not to increase staff, in number or training, and as a direct result, wrongfully withheld required services to Nicolas, causing him to suffer the alleged injuries. It’s clear that facility management had one objective – to limit costs and greedily profit at the expense of the health and safety of residents.”
Allegations and Background
In May 2017, Luna was admitted to Huntington Park Nursing Center. Prior to this admission, he had been previously admitted to the facility after open heart surgery in 2009 and again in 2017 after a stroke. Upon Luna’s admission to the facility in May 2017, it’s alleged the facility was well aware, through assessment information, family information, as well as physician notes and orders, that he was at high risk for falls; had a history of blindness, open heart surgery, strokes, infections, diabetes; and required dialysis treatment three times per week. Despite his conditions, Luna was still able to walk and accordingly, had a propensity to wander and transfer unassisted when left unattended, and was episodically disoriented and confused.
According to the lawsuit, after a year of near falls and actual falls which had been ignored by the facility, Luna was once again assigned under the care of another inadequately trained caregiver who was responsible for the provision of care for far more residents than was possible.
In May 2018, Luna’s son Jose went to visit his father to find him yelling out in pain. During this visit, Jose was informed for the first time by his father’s roommate that Luna recently fell while attempting to use the bathroom unassisted. His roommate continued to explain that Luna had pushed the call light button repeatedly and waited, but no one from the facility responded. After more waiting, Luna predictably attempted to transfer to his wheelchair unassisted. The wheelchair rolled from underneath him and he fell to the floor. When Luna’s roommate contacted the nursing station and told them what happened, it’s alleged two staff members finally responded and simply placed Luna back into bed. Despite his constant pain complaints since the fall incident, Luna said that he was neither transferred nor properly evaluated for a fall-related injury.
When confronted by Luna’s son, it’s alleged the facility nurses’ station denied any fall incident. When inquired about his pain complaints, the facility nurses allegedly denied knowledge of any relevant information. When Luna’s son asked the facility to transfer his father to a hospital for further evaluation of his unexplained pain complaints, facility staff refused. Instead, the facility staff simply told his son that they would give Luna Tylenol for the pain.
A week after the visit by Luna’s son, Luna was visited by his daughter who found him still complaining of severe pain. When Luna’s family again requested to transfer him to a hospital for evaluation, facility staff refused this second request. This time the facility allegedly falsely stated they already transferred Luna to a hospital for x-rays, showing no fractures. Again, it’s alleged the facility staff falsely stated that Luna had suffered no recent fall. Instead of providing the care required to address Luna’s emergent needs, the lawsuit states facility staff simply requested more paid medications for Luna.
During another family visit, Luna was found by his family unable to speak. When Luna tried communicating with his family, his words were slurred and his family could not understand him. Unbeknownst to his family, the facility was allegedly improperly administering Tramadol to Luna instead of providing him the care he required and deserved to address his fall safety needs. The Complaint asserts the facility physically abused Luna this way for the sole purposes of not only disciplining Luna for suffering the very conditions which he was admitted and kept at the facility to address, but also for the purpose of convenience to the personnel of the chronically understaffed facility.
On June 8, 2018, Luna had a high fever; he was shaking and having breathing difficulties. Luna was transferred to PIH Downey Hospital and was diagnosed with pneumonia. During this stay, his family was informed for the first time that Luna had a right hip fracture. According to the hospital nursing staff, Luna needed hip surgery but was unsuitable due to his conditions.
On June 13, 2018, Luna was returned to the facility.
On June 16, 2018, Luna was transferred to DaVita dialysis in Cudahy for treatment. Upon arrival, Luna was evaluated and determined to have abnormal blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and as a result, he was immediately transferred to the hospital. After this stay, Luna’s family again tried to locate another facility for him, to no avail. However, by this time, his benefits had run out. To date, Luna is still not able to speak properly. He continues to complain of severe pain and cries out whenever he is moved.
Luna has reason to believe that the facility’s focus and intent to increase revenues and profit margins caused widespread withholding of required services to the facility residents.
The advance knowledge of the facility’s alleged malfeasance which led to the chronic and wrongful withholding of required care to residents was accomplished by any means, including lawsuits against the facility alleging understaffing and elder/dependent adult abuse, as well as the issuance of deficiencies to the facility by the State of California’s Department of Public Health, reports on staffing, census, budget and regulatory violations. These reports were available to the facility and yet substantially ignored. For example, at a time when the average number of deficiencies issued in California was a mere 9.6, the facility was issued 17.0 citations of the deficiency by the State of California’s Department of Public Health. This systemic substandard care allegedly led to Luna’s injuries.