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Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Develops Bedsore Due to Negligence; Monterey

Garcia & Artigliere

Monterey, Calif. — Natalie Axelrod, an elderly woman, entered Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula for hip surgery following a fall at home. It’s alleged that during her brief inpatient stay there from December 13, 2017, through December 21, 2017, she developed a massive and infected Stage III+ pressure sore on her tailbone due to the neglect she suffered at the hands of hospital staff. The sore was not properly treated and neither the attending doctor nor Axelrod’s family were informed about it, according to the Complaint. Axelrod’s daughter finally learned about the bedsore when Axelrod was transferred to a skilled nursing facility. By that time, the horrific sore was covered in black, dead tissue. Sadly, Axelrod died just months after leaving the hospital. The lawsuit alleges the substandard care Axelrod received was the result of financial limitations forced upon the hospital by its owners and managers as they sought to increase their profits.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula for elder abuse.

“It is well known to everyone involved in acute hospital care that patients who lie or sit in one position for long periods of time are at risk of developing pressure sores. It is also well known that if proper care is not given to these sores, deep ulcers can develop that may leave the muscle or bone beneath the skin exposed,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Unfortunately, it appears hospital operators disregarded these risks to Natalie’s health and instead, sought to enrich themselves by chronically understaffing the hospital in both number and training. A lack of enough adequately trained staff leads to poor and neglectful treatment of patients, which was certainly true in Natalie’s case as alleged in our Complaint.”

Allegations and Background

On December 10, 2017, Axelrod fell at home. She was taken to a hospital where X-rays showed she had a hip fracture.

On December 13, 2017, she was transferred to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Two days later, she underwent hip replacement surgery.

Axelrod suffered from a medical history that included falls and cardiac and renal issues that left her dependent for all activities of daily living, including turning and repositioning her body, transferring into and out of bed and her wheelchair, dressing, grooming, bathing, hygiene, toileting assistance and medication management. Her dependent condition, which the hospital was well aware of the suit alleges, left her particularly vulnerable to developing pressure sores. Untreated pressure sores can lead to infection, severe pain and death.

Axelrod’s risk of developing pressure sores and infections should have been easily managed through the application of fundamental nursing principles. If well-recognized precautions and safety measures had been taken and applied on a 24-hour basis, Axelrod could have been protected from pressure sores, the suit alleges. However, the hospital failed Axelrod in this regard.

The suit alleges that as a direct result of the negligent and substandard care Axelrod received during her time at the hospital, she developed a massive Stage III+ sacral/coccyx bedsore. The hospital failed to adequately treat the sore or notify the attending physician about the bedsore, which had become infected.

On December 21, 2017, Axelrod was transferred from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility. When Axelrod arrived at the nursing facility, her daughter was first informed that Axelrod had developed a skin wound on her coccyx. By this time the coccyx skin was covered in significant amounts of black, dead tissue, also known as necrosis.

Axelrod passed away on June 3, 2018. She, unfortunately, spent the remainder of her life enduring otherwise unnecessary medical treatments for the injuries she received at the hospital. The suit asserts that despite Axelrod’s advanced age and conditions at the time she entered the hospital, her quality of life was greatly impacted by the lack of adequate medical care she received there. The scope and severity of the recurrent neglect inflicted upon Axelrod while under the care of the hospital accelerated the deterioration of her health and physical condition beyond that caused by the normal aging process and caused prolonged suffering for both Axelrod and her family, the lawsuit alleges.

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