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Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Develops Bedsore & Antibiotic-Resistant Uti

Garcia & Artigliere

Torrance, Calif. — Kathryn Colmey, an 81-year-old woman, was admitted to Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance for 24-hour inpatient care in March 2018. She had suffered a stroke a few months earlier that left her partially paralyzed and with difficulty swallowing. It’s alleged that during the month Colmey was a patient at Providence hospital, staff routinely neglected her care needs, causing her to develop an entirely preventable antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infection and a severe Stage IV pressure sore. Additionally, hospital staff did not inform Colmey’s family about the infection until her condition had significantly declined, and her bedsore went unreported until her discharge from the hospital. As a result, Colmey suffered extreme pain and had to undergo complicated hospital treatments followed by daily therapy at a skilled nursing facility. According to the Complaint, the hospital’s lack of concern for Colmey’s health and safety resulted from a plan by management to reduce costs and increase profits by routinely understaffing the facility.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance for elder abuse.

“Kathryn and her family were relying on Providence to provide the professional, 24-hour care she needed to stay safe and avoid further injury. Instead, it appears the hospital failed Kathryn by systematically withholding the care and resources she required and deserved,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Based on the number of lawsuits against the management defendant’s facilities, including Providence, and the hospital regularly being issued deficiencies by the State of California’s Department of Public Health, it’s clear the hospital was aware of its understaffing and substandard patient care. However, Providence allegedly disregarded these issues despite knowing they would and did lead to unnecessary patient injuries.”

Allegations and Background

When Colmey entered Providence hospital on March 6, 2018, she required assistance with all the activities of daily living, including turning and repositioning her body, transferring into and out of her bed and wheelchair, dressing, grooming, bathing, hygiene, toileting, and medication management. Her dependency and compromised condition left her particularly vulnerable to developing pressure sores and infections.

The lawsuit alleges that Colmey’s health conditions and needs were well known to Providence hospital. In fact, several weeks before her admission, the hospital had treated her for these conditions and associated needs. It was extremely important to Colmey’s health and safety that fundamental nursing principles be applied on a 24-hour basis to protect her from further injuries. Unfortunately, it’s alleged the hospital failed Colmey in this regard.

Upon her admission to the hospital, Colmey started on antibiotics because she had symptoms of a urinary tract infection. Blood cultures were also taken at admission. On March 8, 2018, the hospital took Colmey off of antibiotics because the blood cultures taken at admission were tainted.

Additionally, over the course of the week following her admission, there was an increase in hospital patients placed on isolation precautions, particularly on the floor where Colmey was a patient. Colmey’s family routinely observed hospital staff on the floor wearing protective gowns and gloves, the lawsuit alleges.

On March 12, 2018, the hospital took more blood cultures from Colmey. On March 15, 2018, the lab results showed Colmey had a bacterial infection of the urinary tract. The type of infection was an antibiotic-resistant extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL) infection.

On March 17, 2018, Colmey’s family was told about this serious bacterial infection. It was the first time her family had been notified about the significant decline in her condition, the lawsuit alleges. During this discussion, hospital personnel provided a poor prognosis for Colmey’s recovery and recommended hospice care.

The lawsuit alleges that when confronted about the root cause of the ESBL-involved bacterial infection, hospital staff falsely said that the condition had been present upon Colmey’s admission. This representation was inconsistent with the diagnosis and treatment plans Colmey had received upon admission. Due to her hospital-acquired bacterial infection, Colmey endured an unnecessarily prolonged and complicated hospital stay, the suit alleges.

On April 4, 2018, Colmey was discharged from Providence hospital to a skilled nursing facility with orders that she undergo restorative therapy seven days a week. Upon her discharge from the hospital, she also suffered from a massive Stage IV pressure sore on her lower back, which the hospital had sought to conceal by not reporting it to the Department of Public Health as required by law, the Complaint states.

Hospital-acquired Stage III and IV pressure sores are considered “never” events, meaning they generally never occur in a hospital setting when fundamental nursing principles are applied. The lawsuit alleges that the infection and pressure sore were avoidable and occurred because of an insufficiency of hospital staff in number, competence, and training.

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