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Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Left in Vegetative State After Surgery

Garcia & Artigliere

Thousand Oaks, Calif. — Loren James Rossop, a 70-year-old man who had suffered a stroke at home, was admitted to Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center for brain surgery to remove blood clots, as well as for custodial and rehabilitative care. Although Rossop was able to sit up on his own and communicate when he entered the hospital, following the operation, he was in a vegetative state that left him completely dependent on hospital personnel for all of his daily needs. It’s alleged that Rossop’s care needs were negligently ignored by hospital staff and, consequently, he developed pressure sores that exposed muscle and bone, including his spine. According to the Complaint, staff members then tried to hide the horrific sores from his family, further worsening his injuries. Rossop was then transferred to another hospital, where he was deemed too malnourished to undergo surgery to treat the wounds.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center for elder abuse.

“As stated in our Complaint, Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center was focused on unlawfully increasing its earnings as opposed to providing the legally mandated minimum care to be provided to elder and infirm patients, including Loren,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “This focus played a part in the alleged underfunding and understaffing of the hospital, which led to violations of state and federal rules, laws and regulations, and ultimately, Loren’s injuries. Sadly, Loren’s injuries have accelerated the deterioration of his health and overall well-being.”

Allegations and Background

On September 14, 2018, Rossop suffered a stroke at home. When he was found on the floor, he was paralyzed on the left side of his body and slurred his words. He was taken to Community Memorial Hospital, where he received blood thinners. Later that day, he was transferred to Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center for surgery.

Upon arrival at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, a physical exam was performed. The doctor noted that Rossop had no pressure sores on his body. He was able to sit up on his own, could communicate and had regained most of his eyesight.

Following the brain surgery, however, Rossop was left in a vegetative state and was only able to blink his eyes. He had lost his ability to talk, sit up and move. Due to his postoperative condition, he was dependent on hospital personnel for all his basic needs, including turning and repositioning, transferring into and out of bed, dressing, grooming, bathing, hygiene, toileting assistance, and medication management.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants knew that Rossop was at high risk of developing bedsores because of his medical condition and dependence for his custodial needs. It further alleges that the high bed sore risk to Rossop was entirely manageable through the application of fundamental nursing principles and care. Had the hospital implemented precautions and safety measures that are well known to all personnel involved in long-term and acute care, Rossop’s development of pressure sores could have been avoided. Unfortunately, however, the hospital failed Rossop in this regard, the suit asserts.

The suit alleges that throughout his stay, which continued until November 2, 2018, his healthcare needs, and orders and instructions from his physician, were ignored by hospital staff. As a result, Rossop developed severe bone- and muscle-exposing pressure sores.

The suit further alleges that once Rossop developed sores, his wound care needs were blatantly ignored. For example, Rossop was routinely left lying in his bed, unattended and unassisted, for excessively long time periods, sometimes reaching up to six hours. He was not provided wound care as prescribed by his doctor nor the wound surgery requested by his family.

Additionally, the hospital initially did not tell his family about the sores, instead of seeking to conceal them, according to the suit. When the family was finally notified, they were shocked and horrified by the appearance of the wounds. A sacral wound had tunneling that exposed Rossop’s spine.

When confronted by Rossop’s family as to how the pressure sores occurred, the case manager assigned to him told the family there was nothing they could do, stating that Rossop would develop sepsis and then die from the wounds.

On November 2, 2018, Rossop was transferred from Los Robles Hospital to Cottage Hospital, where his sacral wound was determined to be a Stage IV pressure ulcer. He was also diagnosed with pneumonia. Unfortunately, by this time, he was severely malnourished due to the neglect he had allegedly suffered while at Los Robles Hospital and was deemed unsuitable for wound surgery. The physicians at Cottage Hospital also stated that Rossop should have still been able to walk following his brain surgery at Los Robles Hospital, as stated in the Complaint.

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