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Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Suffers Traumatic Brain Injury and Fracture Due to Fresno Nursing Facility's Negligence

Garcia & Artigliere

Fresno, Calif. — Josefina Ortega, an 83-year-old woman with a history of falls and strokes, was admitted to Palm Village Retirement Community Health Care Ctr. for assistance with all activities of daily living. It’s alleged that while Ortega was a resident, she suffered a traumatic brain injury and humerus fracture as a result of falling out of her bed, which staff left untreated. According to the lawsuit, the facility’s failure to provide Ortega with required attention and care accelerated the deterioration of her health and physical condition beyond that caused by the normal aging process, and led directly to her extreme pain and suffering, and emotional trauma. Sadly, Ortega passed away one day following her fall.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Palm Village Retirement Community Health Care Ctr. for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“Due to Josefina’s known fall risk and level of required care, the facility should have put in place necessary fall-safety measures to protect her from accidents. However, based on her avoidable fall and resulting injuries, it appears the facility systematically and continuously just flat out ignored her needs, placing her in serious danger,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Our lawsuit asserts that, through a plot devised and executed by the defendants, the facility retained as many residents as possible for the purpose of generating revenue from the provision of ‘skilled’ nursing care and other services which are offered but are, in reality, non-existent or subpar at best. This scheme has resulted in a lucrative business model for the defendants.”

Allegations and Background

In June 2011, Ortega was admitted to the facility for long-term care because her family could no longer care for her at home. She had previously undergone a hospital course for a fall at home and during that time, she was unable to get up and had low blood sugar. However, upon admission, Ortega was still able to walk and transfer herself with assistance.

The lawsuit alleges that facility staff were well aware of Ortega’s health conditions and needs upon her admittance. By accepting her as a resident, the facility took on the duty of providing adequate care that included ambulating and/or transferring Ortega to prevent falls.

Over the years following admission, it’s alleged Ortega’s mobility rapidly declined due to the wrongful withholding of required care and services by the facility. By January 2019, Ortega became bedbound and required a Hoyer lift for all transfers.

According to the lawsuit, the facility breached the duty of ordinary care by failing to: follow physician orders; provide care and services to protect Ortega from fall accidents; provide needed assistance with transfer and mobility; use mechanical lifting devices and other approved handling devices; continuously assess her condition in advance to determine the safest way to accomplish lifting, transferring, and movement needs; create and implement plans of care individualized to meet her needs; notify significant changes of her condition to her responsible party and physician; note changes in her physical and mental status; promptly report those changes to her physician and family to mitigate and prevent unnecessary exacerbation to her already compromised condition; transfer her to a hospital when it was apparent that her condition required immediate and emergency hospitalization.

Predictably, on February 11, 2019, Ortega suffered a fall out of bed while the improperly trained and unfit facility nursing staff members attempted to transfer her out of bed to go to the dining room, the lawsuit alleges. The facility then created a fictitious explanation asserting that Ortega somehow slipped out of the sling being used to perform the transfer. Rather, it seems the nursing staff members either a) misused the sling from its protocol of usage and/or b) there were not enough staff members present as required by her care plan at the transfer when utilizing a transfer sling.

As a result of the February 11, 2019 fall, Ortega suffered entirely preventable life-threatening injuries including, but not limited to, a humerus fracture, a traumatic brain injury, and needless pain and suffering.

After the fall, Ortega was taken to Adventist Health Reedley where hospital personnel recommended surgery for the entirely preventable injuries alleged herein. Unfortunately, she was unsuitable for surgery due to her advanced age and condition, and instead provided non-surgical treatments before returning to the facility.

On February 12, 2019, Ortega passed away. It’s alleged that despite her advanced age and conditions at the time of admission to the facility, Ortega’s quality of life was significantly degraded by the lack of quality medical care she received.

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