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Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Develops Severe Bedsores Due to Negligence

Garcia & Artigliere

Roseville, Calif. — Hugh Browne, an 86-year-old man, was admitted to Pine Creek Care Center, a skilled nursing facility, for rehabilitation and wound care following spinal surgery. Browne was bedbound and suffering from conditions that left him dependent for all activities of daily living. It’s alleged that during his stay, he developed several unstageable, deep tissue bedsores due to the substandard care he received. The lawsuit states that the facility then attempted to hide the sores from his family and physician, going so far as to transfer him to a non-medical residential care facility, where the severity of his injuries was discovered. As a direct result of the facility’s alleged negligence and fraud, Browne endured extreme and avoidable pain, and his health deteriorated beyond that caused by normal aging.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Pine Creek Care Center for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“It is known to all in long-term care that pressure sores can generally be prevented with proper care, and facility’s must make sure that residents do not develop pressure sores and that residents who have them are given treatment to promote healing and prevent infection. Notwithstanding this knowledge, it appears Pine Creek Care Center systematically and continuously failed to provide Hugh with the medical and custodial care he required,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “It is no surprise that this facility is repeatedly issued deficiencies by the California Department of Public Health for failing to have enough resources on hand to properly care for its vulnerable elderly population. Hugh suffered a great deal of pain because facility operators wanted to simply fill beds without providing necessary care, in order to increase their earnings.”

Allegations and Background

On November 8, 2018, Browne was transferred to Pine Creek Care Center from Kaiser Sacramento hospital for rehabilitation and wound care after undergoing spinal surgery. He was bedbound and required assistance with all his activities of daily living, including turning and repositioning, transferring into and out of bed, feeding, hydration, dressing, bathing, toileting, and medication management. Due to his dependence and infirmities, he was particularly vulnerable to developing pressure sores. In fact, when Browne was admitted to the facility, he had a Stage I pressure sore on his heel as well as surgery wounds on his neck and low back area.

By admitting Browne as a resident, the facility asserted it could and would meet his custodial needs. Instead, it’s alleged the facility systematically and continuously failed to provide him with the medical and custodial care he required. Browne was left in his own waste and without personal hygiene for extended periods of time. The facility failed to turn and reposition his body as needed to take the pressure off his skin and did not provide the necessary nutrition and hydration he needed to stave off skin breakdown. As a result, Browne’s skin began breaking down, the suit further alleges.

On November 11, 2018, the facility’s interdisciplinary team held a care conference for Browne. By this time, the pressure sore on his heel was described as an unstageable deep tissue injury. Additionally, he had a pressure sore on his coccyx described as Stage I.

Incredibly, the lawsuit alleges, that in spite of these injuries and the facility’s discovery of Browne’s heightened risk for pressure sores, the wrongful withholding of care continued unabated. Compounding matters, the Complaint states that facility nurses fraudulently concealed his skin integrity issues from his family and doctor. Under state and federal regulations, a skilled nursing facility must notify a resident’s physician immediately if the resident develops a pressure sore and must follow the physician’s treatment orders.

The suit also alleges that to further their cover-up scheme, facility operators hatched a plan to unsafely discharge Browne to a non-medical Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE), by untruthfully representing that none of Browne’s pressure sores were worse than Stage II and that his “health had improved sufficiently [so] that the resident no longer needs the services provided by this facility.”

On November 24, 2018, Browne was discharged from the facility to the RCFE. The day after his admission, RCFE staff called his family to tell them that the facility had falsely represented his skin conditions when they transferred him. Contrary to the discharge records the facility provided, Browne had pressure sores that were Stage III+. During the same discussion, the RCFE allegedly told Browne’s family that they were legally prohibited from retaining him given the severity of his skin wounds and need for skilled nursing and medical care.

On November 26, 2018, Browne was transferred to the Kaiser Roseville emergency room. Upon his arrival, hospital personnel described his pressure sores as unstageable. Browne never returned to Pine Creek Care Center but continued to endure needless pain and suffering from the injuries he suffered there, the suit alleges.

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