Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Develops Massive, Bone-Exposing Bedsore Due to Montebello Hospital’s Negligence

Montebello, Calif. — Ramona Sanchez, an 88-year-old woman who had just undergone emergency gallbladder surgery, was admitted to Beverly Hospital for 24-hour acute care. In addition to her already compromised condition following the surgery, Sanchez was paralyzed on one side of her body and unable to speak due to a prior stroke. It’s alleged that while she was a patient, and directly because of the poor care she received from hospital nursing staff, Sanchez developed a pressure sore on her coccyx area that was not present upon her admission. The sore progressed into a massive Stage IV wound, which became infected and extended to the bone, causing Sanchez to undergo a painful skin debridement procedure.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Beverly Hospital for elder abuse.

“A Stage IV pressure sore is a condition that should never develop in an acute care hospital, if that hospital is following the law in applying fundamental nursing principles to its patient care,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Unfortunately, in Ramona’s case, it appears the basic care and principles that guide patient health and safety were ignored. It’s alleged the negligent treatment afforded to Ramona was a direct result of the chronic understaffing of the hospital—in both number of personnel and training—by hospital operators, as they sought to unlawfully increase their earnings at the expense of their elderly and infirm patients.”

Allegations and Background

On September 28, 2018, Sanchez was admitted to Beverly Hospital. The lawsuit alleges that upon Sanchez’s admission to the hospital, hospital staff knew about her medical history and knew she was gravely ill, and was thus dependent upon them for all the activities of daily living. This included turning and repositioning her body, transferring her in and out of her bed and wheelchair, and assisting her with dressing, grooming, bathing, hygiene, toileting and medication management. The suit further alleges that hospital staff knew that because of her advanced age, infirmities and associated special needs, Sanchez was particularly vulnerable to pressure sores and infections.

Sanchez’s high pressure sore risk upon her admission to the hospital was entirely manageable through the application of fundamental nursing principles and evidence-based guidelines, the suit alleges. Further, had Beverly Hospital implemented the precautions and safety measures well known to personnel working in long-term and acute care, and used in general acute care hospitals, Sanchez could have been protected from pressure sores and associated injuries. It was extremely important to Sanchez’s health and safety that these nursing principles were applied on an ongoing 24-hour basis. Unfortunately, the hospital failed Sanchez in this regard, the suit asserts.

On October 4, 2018, the hospital notified Sanchez’s family of changes to her skin that had not been present upon admission. Specifically, skin redness had developed around her buttocks/coccyx area. The hospital assured the family that the skin wound would be appropriately and promptly treated. These representations about the quality and quantity of Sanchez’s care were made by the hospital with full knowledge of their falsehood, the suit alleges.

On October 12, 2018, Sanchez was discharged from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility. When Sanchez arrived at the nursing home, staff determined she had a yeast infection that required isolating her to prevent a spread and outbreak of the infection.

On October 31, 2018, Sanchez underwent debridement of the coccyx wound at Beverly Hospital. By this time, the wound was a Stage IV sore, which is the most severe level. It extended to the bone and was infected.

The lawsuit alleges that over the course of Sanchez’s admission to the hospital, hospital staff consistently and systematically ignored her known custodial needs and pressure sore risk. By failing to use recognized standards of practice, the hospital negligently caused Sanchez’s injuries. This negligence was the result of the hospital’s plan to maximize profits by understaffing and underfunding the facility, according to the suit.