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Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Fractures Neck, Suffers Brain Bleed

Garcia & Artigliere

Pomona, Calif. — Tomas Rodriguez, an 84-year-old man with moderate dementia and kidney failure requiring dialysis, was admitted to Claremont Care Center for rehabilitation following hospitalization. It’s alleged that while he was a resident, Rodriguez, who was a known high fall risk, suffered several falls and near-miss falls before ultimately falling in the bathroom and severely injuring himself due to the substandard care he received at the facility. After this final fall, Rodriguez was taken to the hospital where hospital personnel discovered he had a neck fracture, bleeding in his brain and a deep cut on his forehead that required 10 stitches. Unfortunately, because of his age and medical conditions, it was determined he was not a candidate for surgery and was given a poor prognosis by doctors.

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

“When Tomas was admitted to Claremont Care Center for rehabilitation and custodial care, he was fully expected to go home after his stay. Instead, as stated in our lawsuit, due to the facility operators’ focus on improving their financial bottom line by underfunding and understaffing the facility, Tomas may never recover from his injuries,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “It is shameful that this facility alleges to provide skilled nursing care but in actuality has little or no regard for its residents’ health and safety. This is underscored by the facility’s customary practice of being issued deficiencies by the State of California’s Department of Health Services.”

Allegations and Background

On December 10, 2018, Rodriguez was admitted to Claremont Care Center from Pomona Valley Medical Center for rehabilitation and was expected to return home once completed. Upon his admittance to the facility, he suffered from conditions including moderate dementia and kidney failure, requiring dialysis three times per week.

At the time of his admission, Rodriguez was dependent upon assistive devices for independent transfers. Due to his medical conditions, he was also dependent for all activities of daily living including transfers, feeding, hydration, dressing, bathing, toileting and medication management. His medical infirmities and dependence made him particularly vulnerable to falling.

The lawsuit alleges that upon his admission to the facility, it was well known to facility operators and staff that he needed protection from falls and exacerbation of his already precarious condition. The facility knew from assessment information, family information and physicians’ notes and orders that Rodriguez suffered from dementia, limited mobility, and other conditions, and that he was entering the facility for rehabilitation following hospital treatments. Further, the facility knew that he had a propensity for attempting unassisted transfers when left alone and therefore was at high risk of falling, and needed help transferring and 24-hour assistance and monitoring. In spite of the facility’s knowledge of Rodriguez’s health risks, the facility failed to provide him with the care, monitoring, and supervision he needed, the lawsuit alleges.

Predictably, on the early morning of January 9, 2019, after multiple near misses and actual falls which were allegedly ignored by facility staff, Rodriguez fell again after staff left him unattended in the bathroom. The fall occurred just before he was going to be picked up to go to dialysis. The impact of the fall caused a deep laceration to Rodriguez’s forehead and he was transferred to Pomona Valley Medical Center.

When his family arrived at the medical center, hospital personnel told them that Rodriguez required 10 stitches to his forehead. Additionally, radiology studies revealed that he had fractured his neck and had bleeding in the brain. Unfortunately, due to his advanced age and infirmities, Rodriguez was not suitable for surgery. Rodriguez was placed in a hard neck collar and put in intensive care. His attending physicians gave him a poor prognosis due to the entirely preventable injuries he suffered at the facility, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit further alleges that Rodriguez’s injuries would not have occurred had the facility simply complied with applicable state and federal rules, laws, and regulations, as well as accepted standards of practice and guidelines governing the operations of skilled nursing facilities. Instead, the facility failed to put a proper care plan in place to prevent falls; failed to provide proper care and interventions that were called for by physician orders; and failed to have the proper nursing services and staff in place to prevent falls and injuries, among other failures.

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