Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Dies After Suffering Aspiration Pneumonia
San Pedro, Calif. — Doyle Oneal Blaney, an 88-year-old man suffering from significant medical conditions which rendered him a high risk for aspiration pneumonia, was admitted to Golden Care Living II for assistance with all activities of daily living. It’s alleged that while he was a resident, the facility wrongfully withheld required care from Blaney and predictably, within days after arriving at the facility, he suffered pneumonia as a result of unnecessary aspiration and ultimately succumbed to the injuries. According to the lawsuit, facility staff was unable to provide Blaney with necessary care and interventions, which were called for by physician orders and assessments as the direct result of the insufficiency of staff in number, competence, and training. Prior to his residency and unbeknownst to Blaney and his family, the California Department of Social Services repeatedly cited Golden Care Living II for failing to provide the resident care promised and mandated by applicable state regulations governing the operations of the facility.
Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Golden Care Living II for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.
“California law prohibits a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly, such as Golden Care Living II, from admitting or retaining anyone who requires a level of care beyond that which may be provided in a non-medical facility, but it’s clear the facility favored profit maximization over the health and safety of its residents by admitting Doyle,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “By allegedly underfunding and understaffing the facility, management knew Doyle would suffer dangerous, unnecessary and painful injuries. Unfortunately, the facility’s evaluations and corresponding deficiencies by the California Department of Social Services demonstrate that Doyle was no exception to the facility’s policy of systematically withholding care from residents.”
Allegations and Background
On or about February 22, 2018, Blaney suffered a fall. He was admitted to Kaiser Hospital South Bay due to severe sepsis and a urinary tract infection and was placed on antibiotics before being released to Heritage Rehabilitation, where he remained for several weeks due to deconditioning.
On or about March 27, 2018, Blaney was admitted to Golden Care Living II and upon his admission, it’s alleged the facility was fully aware that he was suffering from conditions, including reduced mobility, dementia, altered consciousness, dysphagia, bradycardia, osteoarthritis, and generalized weakness, as well as a history of strokes, infections and skin breakdown due to limited mobility. Blaney required maximum assistance with all activities of daily living, which included toileting, feeding, dressing, grooming, transferring, bathing, mobility, and medication management, and required specific care and interventions in order to protect him from aspiration pneumonia. After being furnished with this information by Blaney’s family, the facility assured that they had the resources and enough sufficiently trained staff to care for him.
Despite this knowledge and promise to provide required care, Blaney aspirated causing deterioration, including shortness of breath and an altered mental state. Unfortunately, it’s alleged facility staff was too incompetent to recognize that his declining condition was due to aspiration. Unaware of how to appropriately respond to Blaney’s elevated need for custodial care and rapidly declining condition, the facility placed him on hospice care on April 2, 2018. The wrongful withholding of necessary supervision, assistance, and treatment required by Blaney continued unabated. Blaney developed aspiration pneumonia and again, facility staff did not provide necessary care to prevent exacerbation to his other conditions until he quite literally succumbed to the preventable consequences of the facility’s reckless withholding of care. On April 14, 2018, at approximately 3:30 a.m., Blaney was found non-responsive by facility staff. Before this time, no one had informed his family, personal representative or primary care physician regarding his changes of condition.
When Blaney’s granddaughter Caitlin arrived at the facility that same day, a hospice nurse informed her that he had a fever. The hospice records from the date Blaney was found unresponsive in the facility noted respiratory symptoms, including tachycardia, decreased lung compliance. It was further noted that “crackles” and “rattling” sounds were coming from his lungs, indicating aspiration. The hospice records further noted mucus secretions were suctioned from Blaney’s lungs during that same encounter.
In 2017, the Department of Social Services conducted inspections whereby the facility was issued deficiency citations for falling short on the most basic functions in the administration of their care to residents such as Blaney. This systematic failure to supervise and assist residents based on their acuities carried forward even though the facility was continuously warned and issued a plan of correction, which its administrator signs each time the facility is cited.