Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Cancer Patient Suffers Due to Negligence
Long Beach, Calif. — Amanda Torres Arviso, an 83-year-old woman with cancer, was admitted to Shoreline Healthcare Center for medical and custodial care. Just prior to entering the facility, she had undergone placement of a feeding tube. It’s alleged that during the mere 10 days Arviso was a resident, facility staff withheld adequate fluids and nutrition, and improperly replaced her feeding tube, causing Arviso to suffer severe dehydration. Additionally, she developed a tissue-exposing pressure sore and infection during her short stay at the facility. Arviso was eventually transferred to St. Mary Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit and Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center in Harbor City for further treatment.
Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Shoreline Healthcare Center for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.
“As alleged in our Complaint, facility staff never informed Amanda’s family or physician about her horrendous pressure sore, dehydration and infection, or what was being done to treat them,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Moreover, these injuries were entirely preventable had there been sufficient staff on duty, in both number and competency, to actually implement the protections required by the facility’s own Plan of Care, and physician’s orders and assessments for Amanda. The shocking lack of concern for her well-being resulted from an alleged profit-making scheme by facility operators to retain as many residents as possible in order to receive payment for skilled nursing care, when in fact, the care residents received was substandard or even nonexistent.”
Allegations and Background
On October 11, 2018, Arviso was admitted to Shoreline Healthcare Center because her family could no longer care for her at home. At the time of her admission, Arviso suffered from multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. She had just undergone nasogastric feeding tube placement at Kaiser Harbor City, where she was hospitalized for approximately 10 days before being admitted to Shoreline Healthcare Center. While at the hospital, Arviso had developed a Stage I pressure sore on her back. When she entered the facility, the sore was a red spot the size of a dime, and her skin was still intact.
As a result of her condition, Arviso needed maximum assistance with all the activities of daily living, which included turning and repositioning, transferring into and out of her bed and wheelchair, dressing, grooming, bathing, hygiene, toileting, and medication management. The lawsuit alleges that in spite of the facility’s knowledge of Arviso’s condition and healthcare needs, staff failed to provide her with the medical and custodial care that she required. She was left in her own waste for long periods of time, was not turned and repositioned to relieve pressure on her body, and did not receive the nutrition and hydration she needed to prevent skin breakdown.
The day after Arviso’s admission to the facility, on October 12, 2018, her daughter asked nursing staff to assist her mother with hydration. Her daughter told staff that her mother was dependent for hydration and just before entering Kaiser Harbor City had been receiving hydration therapy. However, the nursing staff declined to offer assistance, stating that the fluid Arviso was receiving in her feeding tube was enough, according to the suit.
On October 18, 2018, at approximately 3 a.m., Arviso’s feeding tube dislodged. Staff attempted unsuccessfully to reinsert it. The facility did not have another nasogastric tube on hand and requested one from a sister facility.
At about 11 a.m. that same day, the new tube arrived and was placed, but facility staff did not perform an X-ray to ensure proper placement. At this point, Arviso had gone eight hours without feeding.
At around 3 p.m., Arviso began having trouble swallowing. Her daughter and a speech therapist discovered the feeding tube coming out of her mouth. It had been improperly placed and was removed. The facility again had to request a tube from another facility, which arrived several hours later. This time staff performed a mobile X-ray to ensure proper placement.
Arviso’s feeding and hydration needs continued to be unmet, the suit alleges. On one occasion, the family discovered that facility staff was only giving Arviso 40 milliliters of feeding per hour. At Kaiser Harbor City, she had received 70 milliliters per hour. Although the facility was told about this feeding difference, the wrongful withholding of care and services continued, the suit alleges.
On October 20, 2018, Arviso’s daughter noticed her mother showing symptoms of dehydration. She asked nurses to hydrate her mother. The suit states that staff merely checked her vital signs and said that Arviso was “okay.” Minutes later, Arviso became unresponsive. Her daughter pled with the staff for assistance. When Arviso started having trouble breathing, facility staff finally called 911.
When emergency responders arrived, they informed Arviso’s daughter that her mother had a fever. When Arviso’s daughter confronted the nurse who had told her just minutes earlier that Arviso was okay, the nurse allegedly snorted, and stated that Arviso had not had a fever at that time.
Arviso was eventually transported to St. Mary Medical Center and admitted with a diagnosis of severe dehydration and an infection. The pressure sore had grown to a Stage III or IV, measured the size of a 50-cent piece, and was open, with tunneling and exposed tissue. Arviso was moved to the ICU. Two days later, she was transferred to Kaiser Harbor City for further treatment.