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Lawsuit Filed: Paralyzed Man Develops Horrific Stage IV Bedsore

Garcia & Artigliere

Orange, Calif. — Stephen Balaz, a 58-year-old man, was admitted to University of California Irvine Medical Center after suffering a massive stroke at home that left him completely paralyzed. While he was a patient at the hospital, Balaz developed a Stage IV bedsore so severe that it exposed his tailbone. It’s alleged that the hospital wrongfully withheld care that would have prevented the injury and did not treat the worsening injury. Balaz never recovered from this injury and died several months later. According to the lawsuit, Balaz’s substandard care was the direct result of the financial limitations and procedures forced upon the hospital by its operators as they sought to maximize profits.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against University of California Irvine Medical Center for dependent adult abuse.

“Hospital staff knew that Stephen, who was paralyzed and unable to move by himself, was at high risk of developing bedsores, yet they failed to put a proper care plan in place to ensure his safety and prevent sores,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Compounding the situation, the hospital did not inform Stephen’s family about the Stage IV sore or report it to the Department of Public Health pursuant to Health & Safety Code §1279.1. It’s our position that in the interest of profits over patients, the hospital made a conscious choice to wrongfully deny needed medical care to Stephen. Moreover, the hospital’s focus on profits played a part in the alleged underfunding of the hospital which led to violations of state and federal rules, laws and regulations. These regulatory violations are well-documented in deficiencies issued by the Department of Public Health.”

Allegations and Background

On October 25, 2017, Balaz suffered a massive stroke at home and was taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Irvine Medical Center. Upon admission to the hospital, Balaz was completely paralyzed and unable to move without assistance. He was also unable to breathe by himself and was placed on a ventilator.

At the time of his admission, the hospital staff was well aware that because of his condition, Balaz was completely dependent upon them for basic care, the lawsuit alleges. This care included satisfying his need for food, nutrition, fluids, hydration, hygiene, bed mobility, transfers, and medication management.

The lawsuit alleges that during his 23-day stay in the hospital, which encompassed approximately 46 shifts of hospital personnel, hospital staff ignored Balaz’s basic needs. The hospital allegedly failed to properly evaluate his medical condition and pressure sore risk factors and failed to put a plan in place to avoid the health risks to him caused by his condition. Hospital staff did not monitor his skin condition, nor did they adequately turn and reposition his body to avoid skin breakdown.

The suit further alleges that as a result of hospital staff neglecting Balaz’s basic needs, his skin began breaking down and he developed what should have been a completely avoidable bedsore on his coccyx. The bedsore continued to worsen as he was left lying in bed unattended and unassisted for excessively long periods of time. The suit alleges that this neglect continued throughout the duration of Balaz’s inpatient admission to the hospital. Consequently, his bedsore advanced until it began to expose his tailbone.

On November 17, 2017, the hospital discharged Balaz to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation. No one from the hospital had yet told his family about the horrific bedsore on his coccyx, the suit alleges. The sore was only brought to the family’s attention upon Balaz’s admission to the skilled nursing facility.

Balaz spent the final months of his life enduring care and treatment for the injuries suffered at the hospital. These treatments included two debridement procedures to the bedsore and a colostomy procedure to keep the infection from developing through the bedsore.

Sadly, Balaz passed away on May 5, 2018, at Chapman Global Medical Center.


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