Lawsuit Filed: Quadriplegic Man Suffers Stage IV Pressure Sores
Fountain Valley, Calif. — Bryan O’Neill, a quadriplegic man who was then 45 years old, was admitted to Manorcare Health Services – Fountain Valley for 24-hour skilled nursing and custodial care in 2012. O’Neill was completely dependent upon facility staff for activities of daily living and meeting his basic needs. The suit alleges that during his residency at the facility, O’Neill suffered several avoidable Stage IV pressure sores on his body, as well as serious infections, malnutrition, dehydration, and other significant injuries, due to the incompetent and subpar care provided by the facility. Sadly, O’Neill died at Orange Coast Hospital in May 2018, two months after being rushed to the hospital for treatment of severe constipation, a sepsis infection and a horrific pressure sore on his coccyx.
Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Manorcare Health Services – Fountain Valley for dependent adult abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.
“Bryan and his family placed great trust in the staff at Manorcare Health Services – Fountain Valley to provide him with quality and necessary care, but instead of receiving this care, the facility systematically ignored his needs, leading to significant pain and suffering,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “In an apparent effort to cover up the facility’s failure, nurses concealed Bryan’s worsening conditions from his family and physician and untruthfully stated that nothing was wrong. It’s clear facility management knowingly employed personnel who were unable and incapable of providing the level of care Bryan needed, and chose to disregard these issues even though this would and did result in preventable injuries to residents.”
Allegations and Background
In or around August 2012, O’Neill was admitted to Manorcare Health Services – Fountain Valley because his family could no longer care for him at home. He required 24-hour skilled nursing and custodial care on an ongoing and continuous basis. O’Neill was quadriplegic due to a motor vehicle accident in 2007. He was completely dependent upon facility staff for activities of daily living and meeting his basic needs, including turning and repositioning, transfers, dressing, grooming, bathing, hygiene, toileting assistance, nutrition and hydration, medication management, and accessing medical care.
The suit alleges that while a resident of the facility, O’Neill suffered severe and avoidable Stage IV pressure sores on his coccyx, hips, and buttocks, as well as infections, malnutrition, dehydration, and significant injury. These injuries were allegedly due to the chronic understaffing of the facility and incompetence of personnel, who were incapable of providing O’Neill the level of care he needed.
The facility staff failed to provide O’Neill with proper personal hygiene care, failed to adequately turn and reposition him to relieve pressure on his body, and failed to provide adequate nutrition and hydration to prevent skin breakdown, the suit alleges.
Upon O’Neill’s admission, the facility was required by law to develop a “resident care plan” to address his risk for skin breakdown and pressure sore formation, and also to monitor for signs and symptoms of infection, dehydration, and declining bladder and bowel continence. The suit alleges that the facility did not have sufficient nursing staff to provide the care addressed in the care plan.
The suit further alleges that during his stay at the facility, O’Neill was not provided fluids for significant portions of the day. As a result, he became severely dehydrated. In 2014, his kidneys shut down because the staff did not recognize the symptoms of dehydration. The staffs’ incompetence in not detecting the signs of dehydration resulted in them believing O’Neill had suffered a stroke and putting him on hospice care for approximately three days. Once O’Neill’s wife provided him fluids, his stroke-like symptoms disappeared.
Additionally, the suit states that the facility failed to prevent the development and worsening of pressure sores. O’Neill spent most of his day in bed. His wife never saw staff turn and reposition O’Neill during her visits. This prolonged bed rest contributed to more rapid skin breakdown. He also did not receive devices for his chair and bed that would have helped prevent pressure sores. Predictably, pressure sores developed throughout his body.
It’s also alleged that the facility failed to provide O’Neill with personal hygiene assistance and his family routinely found him sitting or lying in his own waste, sometimes for as long as an hour. O’Neill developed several urinary tract infections and became severely constipated because of the incompetence of facility staff in addressing his continence and catheter needs.
Shockingly, O’Neill’s ignored unmet needs continued unabated until he appeared nine months pregnant and constantly complained of pain. The suit alleges that facility staff failed to do anything about his condition, causing O’Neill further needless pain and suffering.
Furthermore, the suit alleges that the facility failed to provide O’Neill with his pain medication as ordered by his physician. He was supposed to receive pain medication every four hours but because of staff unavailability, he received it only every six hours.
On March 4, 2018, O’Neill was rushed to Orange Coast Memorial Hospital due to severe constipation. He was septic as well as suffering from a Stage IV pressure sore on his coccyx. According to the hospital’s nursing staff, the coccyx bedsore exposed the bone. During this hospital stay, O’Neill required a colostomy. He developed complications from surgery and was placed in ICU for several days.
On March 18, 2018, O’Neill was returned to the facility and readmitted as a resident even though he required a higher level of care than the facility could provide.
On May 3, 2018, O’Neill was again transferred to Orange Coast Memorial Hospital and passed away that same day.