Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Suffers Severe Neglect at Torrance Nursing Home; Facility Cited by California Department of Public Health

County of Orange, Calif. — Frances Niden, an 82-year-old woman, was admitted to Royalwood Care Center because she suffered from significant medical conditions and posed a high risk for the development and worsening of pressure ulcers. During her stay in the facility, Niden suffered from a severe stage IV pressure ulcer, recurrent urinary tract infections, severe dehydration, multiple seizures, multiple significant medication errors, as well as other injuries. The California Department of Public Health conducted an investigation of the facility and issued Class AA Citations, determining that the facility failed to provide Niden with the necessary care and emergency services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being. These deficient practices resulted in a critical delay in care, diagnosis, and treatment for Niden, and allegedly caused her death.

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

“It’s clear from the California Department of Public Health’s findings, Royalwood Care Center violated a myriad of federal regulations governing the operations of the facility during Frances’ stay, leading directly to her injuries,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia.

“These injuries were the result of the facility’s alleged prolonged neglect and abuse that arose from calculated business practices, including understaffing, fraudulent marketing and sales tactics, utilizing unqualified and untrained employees, and recruiting heavier care residents for which the nursing home received higher reimbursements. We intend to prove the facility knowingly acted in a manner that would cut costs at the expense of its residents.”

Allegations and Background

On or about April 13, 2016, Niden was admitted to Royalwood Care Center for required medical care. The Department of Public Health conducted a review of her medical records at this time and through her discharge on or about July 9, 2016. The Department’s review summarized numerous documents reflecting the alleged reckless wrongful withholding of care required by Niden throughout her residency, and confirmed the facility was fully aware of her known medical conditions and care needs. Based on the record review and interviews with facility and hospital staff, the Department determined that the facility failed to provide Niden with the necessary care and emergency services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being when Niden’s condition changed, including, but not limited to:

  1. Failure to provide the necessary care and services to Niden when there was a change in her condition, including calling the appropriate emergency transportation services.
  2. Failure to closely monitor Niden’s condition after she had a change in condition and her oxygen levels had decreased.
  3. Failure to follow the facility’s policy regarding providing emergency care and services, and waited for over an hour for an ambulance transport service to transfer Niden to the hospital instead of calling 911 emergency services.

Further, the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) conducted a limited inspection based upon a number of the allegations. CMS substantiated the allegations and issued deficiencies against the facility in their dealings with Niden, leading directly to her injuries and in direct violation of 42 Code of Federal Regulations §§483.24 and 483.25, concluding as follows:

Based on interview and record review, the facility failed to provide emergency care service, when a resident’s condition changed for one of three sampled residents (Resident 1) (hereinafter Resident 1 shall be identified as the “FRANCES NIDEN”) and ensure medications with contraindications (something that makes a certain treatment inadvisable) were not given; FRANCES NIDEN had difficulty in breathing, facial twitching, an ongoing abnormal laboratory results that was worsening for indication for heart failure, while receiving Black Box drugs (the most serious type of warning mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning drugs. The FACILITY failed to follow its policy regarding providing emergency care and services and waited for over an hour for an ambulance service, to transfer FRANCES NIDEN to the hospital instead of calling 911.

This deficient practice resulted in a delay in care, diagnosis and treatment to FRANCES NIDEN who had to be resuscitated (the action or process of reviving someone from unconsciousness or apparent death) once the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) ambulance service team arrived after her heart stopped. FRANCES NIDEN was transferred to the general acute care hospital (GACH), intubated (medical procedure in which a tube is inserted into the trachea [windpipe] to allow for ventilation (oxygen exchange) and placed on life support. FRANCES NIDEN was admitted to the intensive care unit and expired five days later (7/9/16).