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Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Suffers Spine Fracture, Bedsore and Other

Garcia & Artigliere

Newport Beach, Calif. — Loretta Cabral, a 93-year-old woman, was admitted to Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for rehabilitation following hospitalization for respiratory problems. It’s alleged that during her brief stay at the facility, staff were unable to address her known respiratory conditions and need of breathing equipment at night, as well as failed to manage her pain, all of which were in direct violation of the quality of care standards set forth by federal regulations. Further, the lawsuit states that Cabral suffered an entirely preventable fall and fractured her spine after a staff member dropped her, and shockingly, facility staff didn’t tell her doctor or family about the fall. Cabral’s injuries were only discovered when she complained to her family of pain and was transferred to the hospital, where she underwent spinal surgery and placement on a feeding tube. Hospital personnel also discovered a severe Stage III+ bedsore on Cabral’s back. As a result of the facility’s alleged negligence, Cabral endured unnecessary and extreme pain, and her overall health significantly deteriorated.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“By admitting Loretta as a resident, the defendants, in effect, asserted the facility could and would meet her custodial needs. Despite this, the defendants disregarded her medical conditions due to what appears to be a deliberate decision to understaff and underfund the facility to maximize profits at the expense of the health and safety of its vulnerable residents,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “As a result of these budget and staffing deficiencies, the facility has been repeatedly cited by the Department of Public Health for failure to provide the patient care it is required to perform as a licensed healthcare facility. Had the facility actually corrected its deficiencies and applied fundamental precautions and safety principles in Loretta’s medical care, her injuries could have been avoided.”

Allegations and Background

On or about November 25, 2018, Cabral was admitted to the facility for rehabilitation following a short stay for respiratory issues at Orange Coast Medical Center. Cabral needed to wear a breathing mask while sleeping and her medication regimen included the powerful blood thinning medication, Xarelto.

The lawsuit alleges that the withholding of care began when facility staff were unable to address Cabral’s known respiratory conditions and need for breathing equipment at night. As a result, Cabral endured an unnecessarily prolonged medical treatment.

Rather than returning home as had been planned before her admission to the facility, Cabral was taken to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian on December 13, 2018. Her admitting diagnoses included pneumonia, sepsis and lack of oxygen to the brain.

On December 20, 2018, Cabral was readmitted to the facility. The lawsuit alleges that the wrongful withholding of required care and services continued unabated. As a result, Cabral suffered needlessly due to the inability of the facility to manage her pain.

On or about December 23, 2018, Cabral told her family that she was in severe pain and needed her medications. Her family contacted facility nursing staff from Cabral’s room and asked them to bring her pain medications. After 10 to 15 minutes without a response, the family went to find a nurse. By this time, Cabral had endured needless pain and suffering for an additional 30 minutes due to the facility’s failure to respond, the lawsuit alleges. When the facility finally assessed Cabral’s pain complaints, they discovered blood clots in her right leg. She was transferred to Hoag Hospital where she underwent a procedure to clean out the clogged arteries.

On or about December 28, 2018, Cabral was readmitted to the facility. Upon readmission, she suffered from significantly limited mobility while recovering post-operatively. She was dependent for assistance with activities of daily living, including turning and repositioning, transfers, feeding, hydration, dressing, bathing, toileting, and medication management. Her conditions and dependence put her at high risk for falls and resulting injury. She required 24-hour supervision and monitoring, safety devices and other interventions to prevent falls.

The lawsuit alleges that prior to this readmission, the facility knew that Cabral was at high risk for falls and injury, and needed special care and assistance. Despite this knowledge, Cabral’s custodial needs were disregarded.

Predictably, after a series of near-miss falls that were left unaddressed, Cabral fell within days of returning to the facility. The lawsuit alleges that the fall, which occurred when she was dropped by a facility staff member, was entirely preventable had appropriate precautions and safety measures been in place. In an unfortunate effort to conceal the withholding of quality care and services to Cabral, the facility failed to promptly notify her physician and family about the fall, including her complaints of back pain, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that it’s well-known to all who work in long-term care that many elderly people who fall develop a fear of falling that causes them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility. People who sit or lie in one position for long periods of time are at risk of skin breakdown and developing pressure sores. Pressure is relieved and sores prevented by changing the person’s position as often as necessary and using pressure relieving devices. Unfortunately, the facility allegedly failed to provide Cabral with this care she required and her skin began breaking down.

On January 3, 2019, Cabral, who was suffering from severe back pain, notified her family about her fall. She was taken to Hoag Hospital, where it was discovered that she had a fractured spine. Hospital personnel also found a severe Stage III+ pressure sore on her coccyx area. Cabral underwent surgery to repair the fall-related spine fracture, followed by placement of a feeding tube.

On or about January 23, 2019, Cabral was transferred to Kindred Hospital Westminster and never returned to the facility.

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