Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Breaks Femur & Develops Horrific Bedsore
Lake Forest, Calif. — Manuel Barraza, a 90-year-old man who was a known fall risk, was admitted to Quality Senior Living for long-term custodial care. It’s alleged that during his stay at the facility, Barraza fell and fractured his femur due to staff negligence. He was taken to the hospital for surgery and stayed for several weeks. Barraza was then readmitted to the facility and within one month, he allegedly developed a pressure sore on his heel that exposed skin, muscle and bone. As a non-medical residential care facility and not a skilled nursing facility, Quality Senior Living was prohibited by law from retaining residents with advanced pressure sores. However, the facility not only retained Barraza as a resident, staff allegedly hid the sore from his family until it became infected and filled with blackened, dead tissue. Barraza once again ended up in the hospital undergoing a painful skin debridement and wound VAC treatments.
Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Quality Senior Living for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.
“Our lawsuit asserts that Quality Senior Living was aware upon Manuel’s admission and during his residency that he required a higher level of care and interventions to prevent injury than the facility would or could provide,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Unfortunately, it appears the facility knowingly exposed Manuel to extreme health and safety hazards, forcing him to suffer unjustifiable pain and injuries. Not surprisingly, the Department of Social Services has received numerous complaints about the facility managers’ pattern of underfunding and understaffing, and their failure to correct these problems.”
Allegations and Background
In April 2018, Barraza was admitted to Quality Senior Living because his family could no longer care for him at home.
The lawsuit alleges that upon his admission, the facility knew that Barraza had medical conditions that put him at high risk for falls and resulting injuries. These conditions included episodes of sundowning, confusion, combativeness, cognitive impairment and balance abnormalities due to previous knee replacements. Even though he was dependent upon assistive devices for walking, he had a tendency to wander and transfer unassisted.
The lawsuit further alleges that Barraza’s fall risk was clearly manageable through well-recognized precautions and safety principles, including 24-hour supervision and monitoring, assistance with ambulation and transferring and other activities of daily living, and the provision of safety devices and other interventions. The facility did not provide these services, devices or interventions to Barraza, the suit states.
Predictably, on October 8, 2018, after a series of near miss and actual falls, Barraza fell while attempting to stand unassisted, fracturing his femur. He was taken to Saddleback Memorial Hospital where he underwent surgery and stayed for several weeks.
In November 2018, Barraza was readmitted to the facility. Since his fall and injury, he had become increasingly sedentary and immobile, putting him at greater risk for pressure sores.
The suit alleges that upon his readmission, the facility knew that Barraza was at high risk for pressure sore development and that he required interventions to keep him from suffering sores. These interventions included keeping him clean and dry, ensuring he was properly hydrated and received sufficient nutrition, and making sure pressure was kept off vulnerable parts of his body by repositioning him and using pressure-relieving devices. However, it’s alleged the facility consciously disregarded this risk and failed to provide Barraza with the required care.
Over the month following his readmission, Barraza developed an avoidable pressure sore on his right heel, which allegedly occurred because of the facility’s wrongful withholding of required care. By December 27, 2018, the sore measured 4×4 cm and was covered in dead tissue, also known as necrosis. The necrosis rendered the pressure sore unstageable.
A sore is unstageable when the actual depth of the ulcer is obscured by dead tissue. Unstageable pressure sores are either Stage 3 or Stage 4 and often expose muscle and bone. Unstageable pressure sores are prohibited in a residential care facility for the elderly because these facilities are not required to provide nursing care and, therefore, are not licensed, staffed, trained or equipped to provide clinical nursing assessments of wounds or treat wounds in a way that nurses would. Yet, the facility retained Barraza and did not inform his family about the wound, the suit alleges. As a result, his skin continued to break down.
When Barraza was finally taken to Mission Hospital’s emergency room, the wounds on his body were infected and required debridement as well as a wound VAC. He also required a round of antibiotics.
On January 22, 2019, Barraza was discharged to a skilled nursing facility.