Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Suffers Traumatic Brain Injury & Fractured Leg Due to La Habra Heights Nursing Facility’s Negligence

La Habra Heights, Calif. — Joseph Sanchez, an 87-year-old man who used breathing and feeding tubes and was unable to speak, resided at Caremeridian, LLC for long-term care.  It’s alleged that during his residency, he suffered an entirely preventable fall that resulted in a traumatic brain injury and a fractured femur, which facility staff subsequently tried to cover up. The lawsuit states that the injuries were left untreated and were the result of insufficient staff in number and training. As a result of this alleged wrongful withholding of care, Sanchez continues to endure needless pain and suffering.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Caremeridian, LLC, for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“Over the course of Joseph’s residency at Caremeridian, LLC, the facility owed him a duty of ordinary care and breached this duty by failing to provide basic care, such as following physician’s orders, protecting him from fall accidents, creating and implementing plans of care to meet his needs, and other necessary care and services,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “The facility’s systematic failures have been documented by the Department of Public Health and demonstrate that management has been explicitly aware of the ongoing dysfunction at the facility. Despite the promise to remedy these serious issues each time they occur, the facility simply moves forward with its alleged scheme to warehouse as many residents as possible for the sake of maximizing profit with zero regard for the health and safety of its residents.”

Allegations and Background

Sanchez was first admitted to Caremeridian, LLC, a congregate living health facility, for long-term care in 1996. He was then 65 years old.

Congregate living health facilities have a maximum of 18 beds, and provide care and services to people with at least one of the following conditions: people who are mentally alert but physically disabled, and who are possibly dependent on ventilators; people who have life-threatening or terminal illnesses; and people who are catastrophically and severely disabled.

The lawsuit alleges that Sanchez’s health conditions were well known to the facility, and specifically from September 15, 2016 to the present time, the facility was fully aware through assessment information, family information and physician notes and orders that Sanchez was a frail and bedbound elderly man who was unable to speak and make his needs known. Therefore, he was at high risk for falls and resulting injuries.

The suit further alleges that the facility and its staff knew that by 2017, Sanchez had a breathing tube and feeding tube in place and was unable to speak or make his needs known, putting him at high risk for aspiration. By 2018, he was dependent upon staff for all the activities of daily living, including turning and repositioning, transferring into and out of bed and wheelchair, dressing, grooming, bathing, hygiene, toileting assistance and medication management. He also required fall-safety interventions including mechanical lifting devices and other approved handling devices for transfers.

In spite of their knowledge of his condition and the assistance he required, the facility knowingly disregarded the risk to Sanchez and wrongfully withheld this care, according to the suit.

Predictably, on August 23, 2018, Sanchez suffered a fall out of bed while nursing staff members attempted to move him from his bed to his chair. The facility asserted that Sanchez somehow slipped out of the sling being used to perform the transfer. The lawsuit alleges that either the improperly trained nursing staff misused the sling, or there were not two persons present at the transfer as required by the operational standards and protocols. As a result of the fall, Sanchez suffered a fractured femur and traumatic brain injury.

After the fall, Sanchez was transferred to St. Jude Hospital for treatment of a head laceration that required seven staples. He was placed in the Intensive Care Unit for further testing. The only transfer information provided by the facility to St. Jude was that Sanchez had suffered a head injury. The suit alleges that staff members at the facility failed to fully assess Sanchez’s injuries and did not advise the hospital about the orthopedic injury, which the hospital later discovered.

On or about August 29, six days after the accident, Sanchez was returned to the facility. His fractured femur was still undiscovered. On August 30, significant swelling and bruising to Sanchez’s leg was discovered. Further evaluation revealed a fracture and his leg was placed in a splint by St. Jude.

The suit alleges that Sanchez suffered this entirely preventable fall because facility staff was unable and incapable of providing him with the required attention, care and services he needed. The facility was also unable to appropriately and promptly respond to the fall injuries due to insufficient staffing in terms of number, training and competence. The suit further alleges that facility operators were fully aware that the staff was unfit to do their jobs and that the injuries to Sanchez were a direct result of the financial limitations forced upon the facility by its operators as they sought to reduce costs.