Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Dies After Suffering Cardiac Arrest Due to Los Angeles Hospital’s Negligence; Cited by CA Dept. of Public Health

Los Angeles, Calif. — Iraj Kahenzadeh, a 79-year-old man suffering from significant medical conditions which rendered him a high risk for sudden cardiac arrest, was admitted to California Rehabilitation Institute for rehabilitation following heart surgery. It’s alleged that during his nine-day residency, the hospital wrongfully withheld required care from Kahenzadeh and predictably, he suffered entirely preventable and sudden cardiac arrest that was left untreated by the facility’s staff. According to the lawsuit, Kahenzadeh’s physical and mental health rapidly declined, and he never recovered. As a proximate result of his injuries, Kahenzadeh died. The lawsuit states that in an attempt to fraudulently cover-up their neglect of Kahenzadeh, the facility’s staff altered his medical records and wrongfully terminated whistleblowers.

Garcia, Artigliere & Medby filed a lawsuit against California Rehabilitation Institute for elder abuse, negligent hiring and supervision and wrongful death.

“As a direct result of the chronic understaffing at California Rehabilitation Institute in both number and training, the facility failed to provide Iraj with adequate testing and evaluation of his cardiac conditions for extended and unacceptable periods of time, ensure that Iraj received adequate care to prevent cardiac arrest and timely respond to Iraj’s emergent conditions,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “It’s clear that in an effort to fraudulently conceal their neglect of Iraj, California Rehabilitation Institute failed to report his sudden cardiac arrest to the Department of Public Health and instead, fraudulently concealed their ignorance of Iraj’s needs. The facility’s staff took this course recognizing fully that if they did report the event as required by law, they would not get paid – placing improper profit over the needs of their patients.”

Allegations and Background

In January 2017, Kahenzadeh was admitted to UCLA Ronald Reagan Hospital for heart surgery. Concerned for his health and safety after surgery, Kahenzadeh’s family admitted him to California Rehabilitation Institute for rehabilitation and to ensure Kahenzadeh received necessary post-operative care to prevent, and appropriately and timely respond to any complications or emergency event during his recovery, including sudden cardiac arrest.

Later in January, Kahenzadeh was admitted to California Rehabilitation Institute and it’s alleged the facility was fully aware that Kahenzadeh was suffering from conditions, including mitral valve stenosis/regurgitation, aortic insufficiency, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a history of rheumatic heart disease and strokes, asthma, benign prostatic hyperplasia, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, pleural effusion, anemia, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, debilitation, acute respiratory insufficiency and malnutrition. In fact, Kahenzadeh entered California Rehabilitation Institute immediately after being released from a hospital where he underwent mitral valve replacement surgery for having an extremely severe heart condition, a fact known and explained to California Rehabilitation Institute.

Despite this knowledge and promise to provide required care, Kahenzadeh suffered entirely preventable and sudden cardiac arrest on or about February 4, 2017, which the facility failed to recognize until Kahenzadeh was found non-responsive. To compound the entirety of issues, the facility then decided to wait before notifying the Los Angeles Fire Department that Kahenzadeh needed to be sent out to another hospital that could provide him the medical attention and care he so desperately required. Instead, the facility’s staff futilely attempted to resuscitate Kahenzadeh.

At approximately 11:33am, the facility finally notified the Los Angeles Fire Department that Kahenzadeh needed to be sent out to another hospital. Due to California Rehabilitation Institute’s delay, Kahenzadeh’s physical and mental health deteriorated to a fatal state. Upon arrival by the emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to the hospital, Kahenzadeh was already pronounced dead and was then transferred to the Los Angeles Coroner.

That same day, Kahenzadeh’s family arrived at the California Rehabilitation Institue to see how he was doing. It was not until Kahenzadeh’s family arrived that they were finally informed that Kahenzadeh had suffered sudden cardiac death. When his family inquired of the facility as to how Kahenzadeh’s cardiac arrest occurred, the facility’s staff, in an attempt to cover-up their abject neglect of Kahenzadeh, provided multiple conflicting accounts. Some staff stated Kahenzadeh had a massive heart attack, while others stated Kahenzadeh had a stroke.

Sadly, the facility’s elaborate attempt to fraudulently cover up their neglect of Kahenzadeh did not end there. In order to maintain the cover-up scheme, the facility altered Kahenzadeh’s medical records so as to conceal their liability and omitted a note from nurse Ebony Gregory, resulting in a patient record for Kahenzadeh replete with documents that are undated, illegible and incomplete, and erroneously depicted the conditions and needs of Kahenzadeh during his stay in the facility.

Tellingly, the facility unlawfully refused to provide the patient records of Kahenzadeh as requested by his family. Moreover, the facility’s staff engaged in unlawful employment practices that involved wrongful termination of whistleblowers. In fact, the facility wrongfully terminated the employees who reported the facility’s reckless withholding of care from Kahenzadeh.

Almost immediately after Kahenzadeh’s hospitalization, the State of California’s Department of Public Health (DPH) stepped in on April 28, 2017 and issued a deficiency for violation of applicable state regulations as it specifically relates to the facility’s reckless and wrongful withholding of required care from Kahenzadeh. The DPH summarized their substantiated findings of California Rehabilitation Institute’s regulatory violation providing in pertinent part as follows:

Based on interview and record review, the facility failed to implement their policy and procedure related to documentation during a medical emergency. This failure had the potential to result in medication and treatment errors.