Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Severely Neglected and Wrongfully Evicted
Inglewood, Calif. — Erasma Cordero, an elderly woman with medical conditions and physical limitations that left her at high risk for pressure sore development and worsening, was admitted to Centinela Hospital Medical Center for 24-hour custodial care. It’s alleged that while she was a resident, Cordero developed a pressure sore on her coccyx area that was not only left untreated but was deceitfully hidden under bandages so her family could not see its severity. Due to the facility’s alleged failure to provide required care, she lost skin near the wound and had to undergo painful treatments. According to the Complaint, Cordero was then evicted by the hospital due to her Medicare status even though there was no bed available for her elsewhere. As a result, Cordero was discharged to her home where, the following day, home health care nurses discovered she had a Stage IV wound, requiring that Cordero be taken back to Centinela Hospital via emergency transport for necessary treatment.
Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Centinela Hospital Medical Center for elder abuse.
“Hospitals are supposed to be a caring, safe haven for the elderly and ill, so it’s shocking that a pressure injury as severe as Erasmo's would occur while she was a patient of Centinela Hospital,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “As stated in the Complaint, hospital staff repeatedly withheld required care and services, causing Erasma to suffer needless pain from the pressure wound, and then wrongfully discharged her, fully knowing that Kindred Hospital could no longer take her due to lack of vacancy. It’s not surprising that Centinela Hospital is regularly issued deficiencies by the California Department of Public Health for its quality of care and that there is a rash of lawsuits against hospitals owned by the same operators.”
Allegations and Background
On about September 23, 2018, Cordero was admitted to Centinela Hospital. She had medical conditions and physical limitations that made her dependent on others for all daily living activities. She needed assistance turning and repositioning herself, getting into and out of her bed and wheelchair, dressing, grooming, bathing, going to the bathroom and managing her medication. Her infirmities and dependence left her at high risk for developing pressure sores.
A few days after admission, Cordero started retaining fluids and her entire body started swelling. She also began having pain in her buttocks. Her daughter requested that the nursing staff examine Cordero’s skin and noted that her mother was at a heightened risk of complications from pressure sores because of diabetes. The nursing staff discovered a pressure sore on Cordero’s coccyx area and assured her family that she would receive the necessary care to treat it.
The suit alleges that during her inpatient admission at the hospital, Cordero was routinely left unturned for periods exceeding two hours. Additionally, her mattress and bed were not designed for pressure relief. There are different types of hospital beds and mattresses—some are used for lung therapy and others are recommended for pressure relief. Due to alleged understaffing and undertraining of hospital staff, the beds were mixed up. While Cordero’s bed rotated her from side to side, this rotation was not a replacement for manual repositioning of the body. Hospital staff incorrectly recorded such repositioning in Cordero’s medical chart.
This wrongful withholding of care and services to treat Cordero’s pressure sore caused her to suffer needless pain, the suit alleges. The wound was always kept covered and requests for updates about the sore from Cordero’s daughter were met with excuses from hospital staff.
On approximately October 7, 2018, hospital staff said that Cordero needed to be transferred to another facility. However, the staff told Cordero’s daughter that Cordero was not qualified for rehabilitation because she required an oxygen mask, so they instead transferred her to another wing of the hospital. After the transfer, Cordero still complained of pain in her buttocks, so her daughter asked nurses to see the wound. The requests were again met with excuses.
On October 14, 2018, the hospital staff told Cordero’s family that she had to be discharged because of her Medicare status and that they had found a bed for her at Kindred Hospital. However, on October 17, 2018, the planned discharge date, Cordero’s family was told by Kindred Hospital that there were no longer any beds available. The lawsuit alleges that when Cordero’s case manager at Centinela Hospital was told about this lack of vacancy, the case manager replied, “I don’t care if Kindred doesn’t have a bed for her, she has to go. Medicare is not paying.”
The unlawful eviction prompted her daughter to request that Cordero be discharged on home health. The lawsuit alleges that the hospital physician agreed, promising further discharge instructions and documentation, and home health arrangements. Even though Cordero was entitled to these discharge/transfer rights, they were allegedly disregarded by the hospital.
On October 18, 2018, the day after her discharge, Cordero was assessed by home health nurses. When they rolled her over and removed the bandaging placed by Centinela Hospital, they discovered a Stage IV pressure sore on her buttocks. The skin on her buttocks and coccyx area was gone. The suit alleges that this was the first time anyone had informed Cordero’s family about the true condition of the wound.
On October 20, 2018, Cordero was taken back to Centinela Hospital via ambulance due to her oxygen and blood sugar levels. When she arrived, the emergency room staff apologized to her family for the pressure sore that had developed during her previous stay. The hospital finally placed Cordero on a proper air mattress.