Lawsuit Filed: Woman Suffers Massive Bedsore, Severe Infection & Kidney Failure
Cupertino, Calif. — Teresa Troxel, a 60-year-old dependent adult woman with diabetes and a history of pressure sores and infections, was admitted to Cupertino Healthcare & Wellness Center for 24-hour skilled nursing care. It’s alleged that during her residency, and in spite of the facility’s full knowledge of her medical history, Troxel developed a horrific bedsore on her tailbone that was left untreated. The wound tunneled through layers of skin and muscle and became infected, causing Troxel’s temperature to spike to 109 degrees and her kidneys to fail. According to the lawsuit, the shocking and willfully negligent care Troxel received was the result of a scheme implemented by the facility’s owners and operators to increase their own profits through underfunding and understaffing of the facility, to the detriment of residents.
Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Cupertino Healthcare & Wellness Center for dependent adult abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.
“Teresa and her family were assured by the facility that she would receive the professional and skilled nursing care she required to avoid developing pressure sores. That simply did not occur and instead, Teresa’s health grew exponentially worse,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “The Complaint alleges that the facility’s operators violated Teresa’s trust and failed her in the most troubling and disappointing way by wrongfully withholding the competent staff and resources she needed. Based on conduct alleged, it is no surprise that this facility—as well as others under the management of the same operators—have a history of receiving deficiencies from the Department of Public Health for failing to provide adequate care to residents.”
Allegations and Background
Troxel was admitted to the facility on June 28, 2018, after a series of adverse events that began with a fall at home on April 3, 2018. The fall resulted in a nine-day hospital stay and treatment for a urinary tract infection and sepsis at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. The other adverse events she had suffered included the development and worsening of pressure sores on her heel and coccyx that required placement of a wound vac; breathing difficulty and swollen legs due to fluid in her lungs and legs; a diabetic reaction that resulted in another prolonged hospital stay; and an acute seizure. These conditions left Troxel at high risk for developing pressure sores. After agreeing with her doctor that she required professional care, Troxel’s family placed her in Cupertino Healthcare & Wellness Center.
The lawsuit alleges that upon Troxel’s admission, the facility was well aware of her medical conditions and history and that she had suffered recent pressure sores that had been resolved after extensive wound care and a specialty bed. It alleges the facility knew that she was at high risk for pressure sores recurring if she did not receive the level of care she required.
In spite of this knowledge, the facility did not provide Troxel with the care she needed, the suit alleges. Facility staff failed to turn and reposition Troxel to relieve pressure on her body, failed to provide adequate personal hygiene and in fact left her lying in her own waste for extended periods of time; failed to provide proper nutrition and hydration; failed to provide wound care; and, finally, failed to recognize her deteriorating condition, the suit further alleges.
Predictably, Troxel developed signs and symptoms of infection. These symptoms were ignored and left unaddressed by facility staff until September 5, 2018, when her fever suddenly spiked, the suit alleges. However, instead of calling 911 for emergency assistance, staff administered Tylenol. Finally, when her temperature spiked to 109 degrees, the staff transferred Troxel to O’Connor Hospital.
Upon admission to the hospital, Troxel was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, sudden kidney failure, and significant deterioration of the pressure wound on her coccyx, which was diagnosed as Stage IV and categorized as a “tunneling wound.” Tunneling wounds are wounds that extend from the initial injury deeper into the surrounding skin tissues and muscles. Additionally, the pressure sore was severely infected, requiring a course of strong antibiotics, wound vac treatment and a painful debridement procedure.
The suit alleges that the scope and severity of the recurrent neglect inflicted by the facility upon Troxel accelerated the deterioration of her health and physical condition beyond what’s caused by the normal aging process. It also resulted in physical and emotional trauma. Indeed, at the time of her hospitalization, Troxel’s prognosis for a living was poor if the massive bedsore did not improve.
During her stay at the facility, matters were made even worse because the staff fraudulently concealed Troxel’s deteriorating condition from her family, the suit alleges. They instead told her husband and family that her condition was improving and that she was receiving the quantity and quality of care she needed to meet her needs.
The suit states that the substandard care Troxel received was a direct result of chronic understaffing at the facility, in both number and training, and that the injuries were entirely preventable had there been sufficient staff. It further alleges that the facility represented to Troxel and her family that they were sufficiently staffed to meet her needs and that the facility operated in compliance with all state rules, laws and regulations governing the operation of skilled nursing facilities. Their representations were and are false, the suit alleges.