Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Suffers Aspiration and Dies Due to Negligence at Inglewood Hospital

Los Angeles, Calif. – Linnie McCloud Payton, a 72-year-old woman, was admitted to Centinela Hospital Medical Center to undergo a colostomy reversal procedure. She was a high risk for aspiration, and therefore, required special care, including 24-hour supervision assistance and monitoring with activities of daily living and implementation of interventions to prevent aspiration. Payton’s post-operative assessments performed by the hospital staff reflected that she required a short-term recovery stay. During this period, Payton was not to have any thin liquids by mouth due to her high risk of suffering aspiration. On November 18, 2017, a hospital staff member provided Payton a glass of water, and she vomited, aspirated and was intubated. When Payton’s family arrived at the hospital, they found her soaked in her own vomit and her abdomen massively swollen. Over the course of the days following the aspiration incident, Payton’s health continued to decline, until she passed away on November 20, 2017, just five days after her colostomy procedure.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Centinela Hospital Medical Center for elder abuse.

“Centinela Hospital Medical Center owed a duty Linnie to provide services to maintain her highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well-being; however, based on the injuries sustained following her procedure, it’s clear the hospital staff wasn’t properly trained in the required policies and procedures, or simply ignored the mandates of such policies and procedures,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “The reality is that MediCare no longer pays for hospital stays wherein an ‘adverse event’ is allowed to occur to a patient. According to our investigation, the hospital had a rampant number of adverse events and so to avoid this financial hardship, the hospital engaged in a fraudulent scheme and practice of cover up, before and during the time period which Linnie was a patient. The hospital knew full well these adverse events exposed the unfitness of the employees involved to perform their job duties, and yet did nothing about it.”

Allegations and Background

On or about November 15, 2017, Payton was admitted to Centinela Hospital Medical Center and it’s alleged the hospital consciously disregarded her aspiration risks when, in addition to other incidents of negligence, nursing staff and other hospital personnel, such as unlicensed dietary staff, continued to give Payton thin liquids multiple times per day, notwithstanding her family’s complaints. The lawsuit asserts the hospital’s actions led to Payton’s injuries and ultimately, her untimely death on November 20, 2017.

Over the course of Payton’s stay in the hospital, it’s alleged the hospital wrongfully withheld services required by the standard of practice by not properly and competently evaluating Payton’s clinical condition, including aspiration risk factors; not defining and implementing interventions consistent with Payton’s needs to prevent aspiration, monitoring and evaluating the impact of the interventions; or revising the interventions as appropriate when, as was the case here, the woefully deficient interventions were not working; failing to properly feed Payton by providing her with liquids and foods that she was not allowed to eat; and failing to ensure that staff provided Payton with care and interventions, which were called for by the hospital Care Plan and physician orders and assessments.

To compound matters, the hospital concealed the aspiration incident, which was only found by Payton’s family by happenstance. The reasoning for the fraudulent cover up of “never events” as determined by the United States Government in the promulgation of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Rule 1390-F, as well as the final rule of CMS on “provider-preventable conditions” addressing the Affordable Care Act §2702, has determined that a “never event” includes trauma and pressure ulcers, such as those suffered by Payton, and a determination that such an occurrence generally does not happen in the absence of the provision of proper care by the hospital.