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Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Develops Bedsores, Sepsis & Infection

Garcia & Artigliere

Bakersfield, Calif. — Charles Persel, a 67-year-old man, was admitted to The Rehabilitation Center of Bakersfield for custodial care following hospital treatment for spinal stenosis and fractures. The unresolved pain from his back injuries and the cardiac conditions from which he also suffered, left him with extremely limited mobility and in need of around-the-clock nursing care. It’s alleged that during his residency, Persel developed multiple Stage III and unstageable bedsores, sepsis and a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection due to the ongoing neglect he was subjected to by facility staff. When he left the facility after less than two months, he had lost more than 25 pounds and was in an altered mental state. According to the lawsuit, the poor care afforded to Persel resulted from the facility managers’ plot to retain as many residents as possible to maximize profits, while underfunding and understaffing the facility.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against The Rehabilitation Center of Bakersfield for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“As alleged in our lawsuit, in an effort to fill a bed and ensure payment for Charles’ residency, the facility falsely promised him that they could provide the care he so desperately required,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Instead of receiving this legally mandated care, Charles left the home with terrible and completely preventable injuries that have seriously impacted his quality of life. There is a good reason that The Rehabilitation Center of Bakersfield is repeatedly issued deficiencies by the Department of Public Health as it appears facility operators systematically understaff and underfund the facility to make money at the expense of residents’ health and safety.”

Allegations and Background

On November 9, 2018, Persel was admitted to Mercy Southwest Hospital for treatment of back pain. He was diagnosed with severe spinal stenosis and multiple spinal fractures. He spent time in the intensive care unit, where he was placed on a ventilator due to pulmonary and cardiac issues. Following this hospital treatment, Persel still suffered from unresolved, severe back pain that limited his mobility to the point that he was unable to participate in rehabilitation therapy. For his protection and to monitor his risk for sudden cardiac arrest, Persel was provided with a LifeVest wearable defibrillator.

On November 30, 2018, Persel was transferred to The Rehabilitation Center of Bakersfield, still suffering from significantly limited mobility due to his unresolved pain. He was dependent for all activities of daily living, and his medical conditions left him particularly susceptible to developing pressure sores and infection.

The lawsuit alleges that Persel’s dependence and conditions were well known to facility staff when he was admitted and that by admitting him, the facility asserted that it would meet his custodial needs. It further alleges that the facility represented to Persel and his family that he would receive the quality and quantity of care he needed, including putting interventions in place to prevent pressure sores.

On December 7, 2018, Persel was found by his family lying in bed, unresponsive. His diaper and bedding were soaked in urine. After waiting for an assessment from the facility nursing staff, his family was told that they were transferring Persel to a hospital for further evaluation.

When Persel arrived at the Kern Medical Center emergency room, hospital staff told his family that the EMTs were left no option but to administer Persel with Narcan during transit from the facility due to drug overdose. Hospital personnel further explained that they found a Lidocaine patch on Persel that had been applied a week before he entered the facility. His family was also informed for the first time that Persel had multiple Stage III decubitus ulcers, also known as bedsores or pressure sores, around his coccyx area. One of the sores was deep, oozing fluid and foul smelling.

A skilled nursing home such as The Rehabilitation Center of Bakersfield must notify a resident’s physician immediately if he or she develops a pressure sore and must follow the doctor’s treatment orders to clean and dress the wound. The facility failed Persel in this regard, leading to his preventable injuries, the lawsuit alleges.

After several days of treatment at the hospital, including requiring three pints of blood, Persel returned to the facility. Remarkably, upon his return, the ignorance about his wound care prevention and management needs continued unabated, even though his family placed signs on the walls of his room to remind staff of the instructions from his doctor, the suit alleges. He continued to routinely be found by his family with his diaper and wound bandages unchanged.

On December 30, 2018, the pressure sore on his coccyx was documented in Physician’s Orders as “unstageable.” On January 4, 2019, Persel was again transferred to Kern Medical Center. According to the facility’s physician, his transfer was related to abnormal lab tests and need of another blood transfusion. When he arrived at the hospital, however, emergency room personnel determined he did not need a transfusion. Consequently, he was returned to the facility.

The lawsuit alleges that upon arrival back at the facility, he waited outside on a cold night with the EMTs for at least 15 minutes before a staff member opened the door so he could be taken back to his room. Upon his return, Persel’s condition rapidly declined. Staff told his family that he was anemic and that he had lost 27 pounds since his admission.

On January 9, 2018, Persel was transferred to Bakersfield Memorial due to altered mental status. His admitting diagnosis was sepsis and a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. Persel never returned to the facility because of the lack of quality medical care and interventions he received there, the lawsuit alleges.

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