Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Placed on Hospice Care After Sustaining Serious Injuries at San Pedro Nursing Facility

San Pedro, Calif. — Augustino Palazzolo, an elderly man suffering from dementia, right side paralysis and other significant medical conditions, was admitted to Los Palos Convalescent Hospital because his wife could no longer care for him at home. Prior to Palazzolo’s admission, it’s alleged the facility represented it was sufficiently staffed and equipped to meet his required level of care. However, during Palazzolo’s residency, the lawsuit states the facility was chronically understaffed in both number and training and as a direct result, wrongfully withheld required care, causing him to suffer multiple pressure sores, severe dehydration, malnutrition, a 95-pound weight loss in one year, urinary sepsis, unnecessary physical and chemical restraints, physical abuse and other injuries.

Garcia, Artigliere & Medby filed a lawsuit against Los Palos Convalescent Hospital for elder abuse, negligent hiring and supervision and violations of Health & Safety Code §1430(b).

“Over the course of Augustino’s stay at Los Palos Convalescent Hospital, the facility flat out ignored his known needs and unfortunately, the abuse he suffered in the facility has left him in a severely compromised condition,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Augustino’s injuries were entirely preventable had there been sufficient staff on duty to actually implement the protections required by the facility’s own Plan of Care and physician orders and assessments, but it’s clear the facility was more concerned with increasing revenues and profit margins than caring for residents. We intend to prove these injuries were not the product of isolated failure but rather the result of prolonged neglect and abuse by the facility.”

Allegations and Background

Palazzolo was admitted to Los Palos Convalescent Hospital in April 2017 suffering from medical conditions which made him particularly susceptible to elopements, falls, dehydration, malnutrition, infection, medication errors, and the development and worsening of pressure sores. According to the lawsuit, the facility represented to Palazzolo and his legal representatives that it was sufficiently staffed and equipped to meet his custodial care needs. Notwithstanding this knowledge, Los Palos Convalescent Hospital wrongfully withheld care from Palazzolo and consequently, he was provided food that did not meet his individualized needs and diet regimen as ordered by his physician, and was unable to eat any of the food, leaving Palazzolo’s wife having to prepare his meals and visit the facility twice a day.

The lawsuit also alleges that the prevalent staffing inadequacies in the facility rendered the patient acuity levels impossible to lawfully manage by the insufficient facility staff personnel. Rather than take corrective action of these deficiencies, Los Palos Convalescent Hospital wrongfully elected the cheaper alternative by physically restraining Palazzolo without adequate legal justification nor authorization. These physical restraints included constraints confining Palazzolo to a wheelchair and wrist restraints, which literally shackled Palazzolo to his bed.

Chemical restraints allegedly used on Palazzolo included psychotropic medications, such as Lorazepam, and continued unabated to the point Palazzolo could not even speak, and when Palazzolo’s family asked why Palazzolo was being administered prescribed psychotropic medications, the facility’s only justification was to control Palazzolo’s yelling behavior. Los Palos Convalescent Hospital’s withholding of necessary care continued even after they were specifically confronted by his family who constantly found him unbathed and wearing clothes that were always either unwashed and filthy or belonged to other residents.

The complaint states that throughout Palazzolo’s residency, Palazzolo was constantly found by his family with unexplained bruising all over his arms which, unbeknownst to his family, were inflicted by the physical restraints and unnecessary use of force by facility staff.

On April 11, 2018, Palazzolo’s wife advised the facility that she would be out of town for several days. On April 13, 2018, Palazzolo’s wife received a call from the facility informing her that Palazzolo was being transferred to LCM San Pedro Hospital. When Palazzolo’s daughter Donna arrived at LCM San Pedro Hospital shortly thereafter, she was shocked by her father’s condition – his skin was yellow, and his blood pressure was 20. According to the LCM San Pedro Hospital Emergency Room staff, Palazzolo was suffering from multiple severe pressure sores, a severe urinary tract infection, dehydration and sepsis.

On April 19, 2018, Palazzolo was discharged from LCM San Pedro Hospital to Seacrest Convalescent Hospital. On April 24, 2018, Palazzolo’s family had a meeting with Los Palos Convalescent Hospital’s staff to discuss how Palazzolo suffered his injuries. In an effort to conceal the facility’s wrongdoing, the facility’s staff falsely claimed ignorance and denied responsibility for the entirely preventable injuries.

After Palazzolo was discharged on April 13, 2018, he never returned to Los Palos Convalescent Hospital. Palazzolo now weighs 85 pounds, having suffered a significant weight loss of 95 pounds since he first arrived to the facility. Additionally, Palazzolo can no longer eat through his mouth and is now dependent upon a nasal feeding tube. He has also been recently placed on hospice care.