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Lawsuit Filed: Paralyzed Woman Fractures Hip & Suffers Head Injuries

Garcia & Artigliere

Colton, Calif. — Renee Ward, a dependent adult woman, was admitted to Reche Canyon Regional Rehab Center, a skilled nursing facility, for 24-hour custodial care in 2003. Prior to her admittance, she had suffered a major stroke that left her paralyzed and unable to speak, leaving her dependent on others for all activities of daily living. It’s alleged that over her years of residency at the facility, Ward’s condition significantly declined due to the negligent care she received by the staff. The Complaint states that even though Ward was bedbound, the facility failed to put adequate and required care and interventions in place to address her risk of falling and other injuries. Because of this alleged failure, Ward experienced numerous falls resulting in severe head injuries, and most recently in 2019, a fractured left hip, which facility staff tried to fraudulently conceal. Ward was then transferred to the hospital for treatment; she never returned to the facility.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Reche Canyon Regional Rehab Center for dependent adult abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“The facility knew that Renee was a dependent, frail stroke survivor, and that if staff failed to provide her with necessary care, there was a high probability she would suffer injuries. Our Complaint describes the years of required care that was knowingly withheld from Renee despite being aware of her condition, including failing to implement a comprehensive care plan to ensure her safety and reduce her risk of falling,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “The facility owners and operators also failed to employ competent, responsible staff members and failed to have proper procedures, policies and training in place which led to Renee’s injuries. Had the facility simply complied with applicable state and federal laws and regulations, her injuries could have been avoided.”

Allegations and Background

Ward was admitted to the facility in 2003 through March 19, 2019. The lawsuit alleges that over the years, Ward’s mobility rapidly declined because of the ongoing withholding of required care and services by the facility, including failing to provide the minimum standard of care to prevent further reductions in her range of motion. As a result, Ward suffered muscle contractures in both her upper and lower limbs. These contractures were so severe she was even unable to push her call light.

The lawsuit further alleges that the facility failed to provide Ward the minimum standard of care to prevent the development of pressure ulcers. She was routinely found by her family unbathed and lying in wet and dirty diapers.

Throughout her residency, and more specifically from about December 2017 through March 19, 2019, the facility allegedly breached its duty to the highly dependent and bedbound Ward by not providing the care and equipment she needed to prevent her from falling, even though facility operators and staff were well aware she was a major fall risk. The facility also failed to properly assist her with basic services such as transferring and failed to use approved mechanical lifting devices, among other things.

In December 2017, Ward fell and suffered a major head injury. In spite of this fall, and the high probability that Ward would experience further falls and injuries, the facility still failed to create and implement proper care plans for Ward, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit further alleges that by 2019, facility operators should have known that Ward required a level of care beyond what the chronically understaffed facility could provide, yet they retained her anyway in disregard of her safety and well-being.

Accordingly, after a series of additional near misses and actual falls, Ward experienced another major fall on about March 19, 2019, when she was dropped by facility staff members who were attempting to change her bedding. As a result, she suffered life-threatening injuries including fracturing her left hip. The accident allegedly occurred because instead of using a Hoyer Lift to transfer Ward, untrained and unfit staff left her unsecured on the bed. Predictably, Ward rolled out of bed and crashed onto the floor on her left side. When confronted about how the accident occurred, staff members provided conflicting accounts in an effort to fraudulently conceal the staff misconduct, the lawsuit alleges. The facility also failed to promptly notify Ward’s doctor or family about the accident.

Finally, after needless delay, Ward was taken to Loma Linda University Hospital where she was diagnosed with a left hip fracture and a urinary tract infection. Ward never returned to the facility. Despite her existing conditions, her life was greatly impacted by the lack of quality medical care she received at the facility. The lawsuit alleges this abuse and neglect caused unnecessary suffering for both Ward and her family.


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