Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Dies Due to Negligence of Skilled Nursing Facility

Humboldt, Calif. – Ida Lou Branch, an 84-year-old woman, was admitted to Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness Center following leg surgery and being intubated for breathing assistance and aspiration prevention. Branch required extensive assistance with activities of daily living, as well as special attention and care planning in the form of interventions to prevent and manage her high aspiration risk. Within five days of her admission to the facility, Branch was found by her family barely alive with significant changes in her mental status and breathing. It’s alleged the facility did not provide Branch with the breathing tube requested by her family every day since admission, and as a result of the facility’s negligence, Branch’s condition continued to decline until she passed away that same evening.

Garcia, Artigliere & Medby filed a lawsuit against Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness Center for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“Ida Lou entered Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness Center with the promise she would be able to recover in a safe place and be provided with necessary treatment; however, it’s apparent the facility never intended to fulfill that promise,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Rather than ensuring there was sufficient staff on duty operating in compliance with California laws and regulations, the facility knowingly put Ida Lou in harm’s way, leading to further injuries and her unfortunate death. It’s alarming that facility management would place greater emphasis on its earnings before the health and safety of residents.”

Allegations and Background

On or about September 7, 2016, Branch was admitted to Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness Center after undergoing leg surgery necessitated by a fall at home. During the hospitalization, Branch was intubated for breathing assistance and aspiration prevention due to significant medical conditions and a long-standing history of smoking.

Within five days of her admission to the facility, it’s alleged Branch suffered entirely preventable aspiration that caused her to suffer pneumonia, respiratory failure and other injuries, which proximately caused her death on September 12, 2016.

The lawsuit states that the facility was well aware, through assessment information, family information, as well as physician notes and orders provided to the facility, that Branch suffered from significant breathing difficulties and a high aspiration risk. Therefore, she required special care and assistance, including 24-hour supervision and monitoring, assistance and monitoring with breathing and swallowing, the provision of safety and assistance devices to prevent accidents, immediate suctioning and lifesaving interventions such as intubation, assistance and monitoring with other activities of daily living, and the implementation of interventions to prevent further complications of aspiration.

Based on Branch’s rapid health decline following her admission, it’s evident the facility failed to create and implement proper care plans to prevent Branch from suffering further injuries, which led to her untimely death.