Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Suffers Fall & Severely Fractures Hip at Orange, CA Hospital; Hospital Attempts to Cover Up Fall
Orange, Calif. —Alfred Butch, an 87-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, was admitted to Chapman Global Medical Center for medical care in January 2018. Upon admission he was confused, weak and unable to hold his own weight or walk without assistance and a walker. It’s alleged that while he was a patient, Butch suffered an avoidable fall and fractured his hip. As stated in the Complaint, the hospital tried to cover up the fall, telling the family that the pain in Butch’s hip was from possible bone cancer. In fact, after being transferred to Hoag Hospital, x-rays there showed a fracture requiring surgery. Butch never recovered from the fall and today he is unable to communicate and is confined to a wheelchair. The lawsuit alleges that the understaffed and underfunded hospital engaged in the fraudulent scheme of covering up the fall to avoid losing money because Medicare no longer pays for hospital stays when an “adverse event” is allowed to happen to a patient.
Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Chapman Global Medical Center for elder abuse.
“A hospital should be a place of safety and healing; however, when profits are prioritized over patient care, avoidable accidents happen and injuries occur. Unfortunately, Chapman Global Medical Center neglected its duties to Alfred,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Rather than provide the required services mandated by law, hospital management was allegedly focused on unlawfully limiting necessary expenditures in the operation of the hospital, as opposed to providing the legally mandated minimum care to be provided to patients. The net effect of which was, and is, to deny required services to the hospital’s patients, including Alfred.”
Allegations and Background
Butch was admitted to Chapman Global Medical Center from Hoag Hospital on a “5150 hold,” which allows a person deemed to have a mental disorder that makes him a danger to himself or others to be involuntarily confined.
The lawsuit alleges that it was well-known at the time of Butch’s admission to the hospital that the precise reason he was admitted was for management and control of his medication, and to protect him from falls and exacerbation of his already compromised condition. He had already been hospitalized twice that same month for his condition.
The suit alleges that the hospital was well aware through assessment information, family information and physician notes and orders that Butch suffered from Alzheimer’s disease with Sundowners Syndrome. He was unable to walk without a walker, had a propensity to get up unassisted and to wander, and had cognitive impairment that severely limited his ability to make clear decisions and judgements. As a result, he was dependent for his basic needs including food intake, nutrition, fluids, hydration, hygiene, bed mobility, transfers and medication management. Due to his condition, Butch was at high risk for falls and was expressly coming to the hospital to protect him from falls.
The suit further alleges that the hospital knowingly disregarded the risk to Butch and withheld the care that he required, including 24-hour supervision and monitoring, assistance with ambulation and transferring by competently trained staff, assistance with the activities of daily living and provision of safety devices to prevent accidents. The hospital allegedly failed to put in place a comprehensive care plan to prevent Butch from falling, while knowing that an elderly patient such as Butch would have a poor prognosis for recovery and rehabilitation after suffering from a fall and fracture.
Within one month of being admitted, Butch called his family begging them to pick him up from the hospital. He said that hospital staff were physically restraining him. The phone call was abruptly interrupted by a staff member who took the phone from Butch and apologized to his family for the call, the suit alleges. When asked why Butch was complaining about physical restraints, the staff member provided an ambiguous answer before notifying the family that Butch had fallen. The staff member went on to say that no injuries had resulted from the fall because another caregiver “caught” him.
Following this conversation, Butch’s daughter attempted to find out what had happened to her father. The daughter inquired with hospital staff and was told that x-rays had been performed on Butch and they showed that he had a hole in his hip that was potentially from bone cancer.
Thereafter, Butch was transferred to Hoag Hospital for further evaluation. Upon the transfer, Chapman Global Medical Center left out his discharge documents, including his medication lists.
The x-rays performed by Hoag Hospital showed a hip fracture requiring surgery resulting from the fall at the hospital. Butch came out of the surgery unable to move or speak. His condition rapidly declined from there and he was eventually released home on hospice care.
Since leaving Hoag Hospital, Butch has required 24-hour, seven-day-a-week supervision. He is still unable to speak, is no longer able to feed himself and is wheelchair bound. His dementia has rapidly worsened and he has swallowing difficulties that required placement of a feeding tube.
Compounding matters, Chapman Global Medical Center had concealed the fall and falsely accused Butch of causing the painful injury. The hospital’s effort to fraudulently cover up their neglect of Butch did not end there, the suit alleges.
According to Hoag Hospital, there was no hole or bone cancer as represented by hospital staff. When the Hoag Hospital case manager attempted to get further information from the hospital regarding the fracture, hospital staff denied that there was a fall or hip fracture. Remarkably, the hospital staff pointed to their own incomplete documentation on Butch as proof that there was no fall or fracture.