Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Suffers Multiple Severe Falls
San Luis Obispo, Calif. – Peggy Schooler, a 77-year-old woman, was admitted to Mission View Health Center after a head-on collision motor vehicle accident, where she suffered from catastrophic injuries, a myriad of medical conditions, a recent series of falls at home, as well as other risk factors that rendered her a high risk for falls, elopement, and related injuries. In less than three months of residency, Schooler suffered multiple, entirely preventable falls and dangerous elopements due to the alleged patterned and ongoing failure of the facility to provide proper care, supervision, and monitoring. The facility’s conscious disregard for Schooler’s health and safety led to her experiencing prolonged periods of unnecessary pain, infections and other injuries.
Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Mission View Health Center for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.
“Based on Peggy’s repeated falls and the facility’s continued failure to address her injuries, or to put in place safety measures to prevent further falls, it’s clear there was insufficient staff to comply with applicable rules, laws, and regulations to provide care to Peggy as specifically called for by the facility’s own Care Plan, and physician orders and assessments,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Our investigation uncovered a financial plan and scheme implemented by the facility, which led to understaffing in both number and training and ultimately, a sub-standard provision of care to patients. The facility’s focus and intent to carry out strategies to increase revenues and profit margins at the expense of its residents caused widespread neglect and led directly to Peggy’s injuries.”
Allegations and Background
Upon Schooler’s admission to Mission View Health Center in or about January 2017, it’s alleged the facility was well aware, through assessment information, family information, as well as physician notes and orders provided to the facility, that Schooler suffered catastrophic injuries caused by a head-on collision motor vehicle accident, a myriad of medical conditions and functional limitations, a history of prior falls, a propensity to wander and was a high risk to suffer further falls; therefore, Schooler required special care and assistance, including 24-hour supervision and monitoring, assistance and monitoring with ambulation and transferring, the provision of safety and assistance devices to prevent accidents, assistance and monitoring with other activities of daily living and the implementation of interventions to prevent elopement and further falls.
On or about February 7, 2017, Schooler suffered a fall after she dangerously eloped from the facility and was eventually found outdoors lying face down in a parking lot with a broken nose and bloody abrasions. Despite Schooler’s family’s express directive to facility staff to transfer her for further evaluation, facility staff simply placed Schooler back into bed without conducting any suspected post-fall assessment or evaluation. The following day, Schooler began to exhibit rapidly progressing symptoms of altered mental status consistent with a concussion.
On or about February 24, 2017, Schooler suffered an unobserved fall in the facility after she was left on the toilet unattended and unassisted by facility staff for an excessively long period of time. Despite Schooler’s resulting open head injury, the facility staff again failed to transfer her to a hospital or conduct post-fall assessments and examinations.
On or about February 25, 2017, Schooler suffered another fall on her face in the facility while getting out of bed, unattended and unassisted. She was sent to French Memorial Hospital and shortly thereafter, was diagnosed with late-stage Alzheimer’s dementia due to the facility’s failure to treat her known history of multiple falls.
On or about March 15, 2017, Schooler suffered another fall after being left unattended and unassisted by facility staff on the toilet. Schooler sustained a bump on her head the size of a baseball.
The lawsuit asserts that Schooler’s injuries were not the product of isolated failure, but rather the result of prolonged neglect and abuse that arose out of four calculated business practices by the facility, including:
- relentless marketing and sales practices to increase resident census despite knowledge of ongoing care deprivation;
- ongoing practice of utilizing unqualified and untrained employees who, by law, were forbidden by law to administer nursing care to residents;
- ongoing practice of recruiting heavier care residents for which the nursing home received higher reimbursements, despite the dangerous levels of staff who were incapable of meeting the needs of the existing resident population.
Accordingly, decisions by the facility as to staffing and census were made irrespective of patient population needs, and instead, were determined by the financial needs of the company.