Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Dies from Pressure Sores and Multiple Falls at Los Angeles Nursing Facility

Los Angeles, Calif. Lionel Johnson, a 75-year-old man who suffered from congenital heart defects, acute arthritis and limited mobility, entered San Pablo Healthcare & Wellness Center in October 2016 after contracting double pneumonia. Because of his arthritis, Lionel could not walk without pain and required the use of a walker, causing him to become increasingly immobile and accelerating his risk of developing pressure sores. Despite knowing Johnson’s particular medical needs, which were actually the very reason he became a resident at San Pablo, San Pablo Healthcare & Wellness Center failed to provide him with the level of care he required and for which they demanded significant payment. The predictable result of San Pablo’s failures in focusing on profit instead of care occurred, and Johnson developed multiple preventable pressure sores. In fact, the sore left untreated by San Pablo Healthcare & Wellness Center ate away at Mr. Johnson’s skin and muscle all the way to the bone. Unfortunately, Johnson succumbed to his injuries and died.

Garcia, Artigliere & Medby filed a lawsuit against San Pablo Healthcare & Wellness Center for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“San Pablo Healthcare & Wellness Center appears to have made a decision to conduct unlawful and deceptive practices by understaffing and failing to appropriately train employees simply so that they could increase their profit margins at the expense of the care Mr. Johnson deserved and required,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “The facility was well aware that Lionel required specific and simple care to prevent pressure sores, and instead San Pablo Healthcare & Wellness Center decided to line their own pockets with income rather than to pay for required staff. Unfortunately, it is evident in our findings that San Pablo Healthcare & Wellness Center sees this all as the price of doing business. Once again, a vulnerable victim has paid the ultimate price for a business more concerned with profits than providing sufficient patient care.”

Allegations and Background

According to the lawsuit, Johnson entered San Pablo Healthcare & Wellness Center in October 2016 for treatment for a variety of medical issues. The lawsuit states that he suffered from a congenital heart defect and severe arthritis that should have required hip replacement surgery; however, Johnson had been in prison until July 2016, and due to limited finances, he never got the treatment he needed. Walking was extremely painful and required the use of a walker, and upon reentry into the community, Johnson also developed a case of double pneumonia that further reduced his mobility. In addition to his medical needs, it’s alleged that Johnson was particularly susceptible to emotional and physical abuse because of his status as a formerly incarcerated person with few social and financial resources.

The lawsuit claims that San Pablo Healthcare & Wellness Center was aware that Johnson was at risk for developing pressure sores; however the facility’s staff failed to take precautionary measures, such as ensuring that Johnson was hydrated and repositioning him every two hours, which allowed sores to grow rapidly. Additionally, the lawsuit purports that Johnson suffered from multiple falls, unnecessary pain and emotional and mental abuse, both at the hands of staff and other residents.

As a result of the San Pablo Healthcare & Wellness Center’s negligence, Johnson allegedly developed numerous pressure sores throughout his body, including one so bad that it ate away his skin and muscle to the bone. The lawsuit alleges that the facility’s staff also concealed Johnson’s condition from his family, doctor and his legal guardian, falsely claiming that nothing was wrong. Eventually, Johnson’s pressure sores and injuries became too much for him to bear. Johnson succumbed to his wounds and he died.