Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Dies Just Nine Days After Entering Napa Valley Care Center

Napa, Calif. – Caroline Johnson, an 82-year-old woman, was admitted to Napa Valley Care Center following hospitalization for severe breathing problems. She was entrusted to the facility for rehabilitation and assistance with daily living; however, the complaint alleges that the facility accepted responsibility for Johnson while knowing that they did not have the skilled staff or resources to provide her with proper care. As a result of Napa Valley Care Center’s alleged neglect of Johnson, her health quickly and progressively declined and she died only nine days after being admitted to the facility.

Garcia & Artigliere & Faulkner filed a lawsuit against Napa Valley Care Center for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“In spite of her medical conditions, Caroline was alert, energetic and enjoyed a good quality of life, all of which were taken from her because of Napa Valley Care Center’s inability to provide proper care,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia.  “It is our opinion that these horrific injuries to Caroline would not have occurred had Napa Valley Care Center adhered to applicable rules, laws and regulations, as well as the acceptable standard of practice governing the operation of a skilled nursing facility. Instead, as is so often the case where a business puts profits over people, further injury and even tragedy occurs. Caroline was left to deteriorate and she ultimately paid with her life.”

Allegations and Background

In May 2016, Johnson, who had a history of high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other serious medical conditions, was hospitalized because she was having trouble breathing. Johnson required the nightly use of a nebulizer to help her breathe.  She also had a long history of abnormal blood pressure levels. Upon being discharged from the hospital, Johnson was admitted to Napa Valley Care Center.

According to the lawsuit, on May 2, 2016, Johnson was taken to the hospital after experiencing difficulty breathing. She remained at the hospital for treatment for approximately two or three days. Following her release, she was transferred to Napa Valley Care Center for rehabilitation and assistance with daily living. The lawsuit alleges that when the facility admitted Johnson, who was confined to a wheelchair, suffered from dizziness and had a history of minor falls, the facility stated they was fully aware of her medical history and vulnerable condition, and were sufficiently staffed to manage her care.

However, the lawsuit alleges that the facility staff withheld Johnson’s nebulizer that had been prescribed by her doctor, leaving Johnson gasping for air for four to five nights. After Johnson informed her daughter about this withholding of care, her daughter investigated and found out that the facility had withheld the nebulizer treatments because of Johnson’s high blood pressure. The lawsuit states that Johnson was then examined by a doctor and prescribed the exact same nebulizer treatments as she had been previously prescribed.

The lawsuit also alleges that during her nine days at Napa Valley Care Center, Johnson was frequently served cold and inedible food.  Not surprisingly, Johnson lost ten pounds during her brief residency at Napa Valley Care Center.

Additionally, despite a care plan that called for physical therapy and exercise to prevent blood clots and bruising, Johnson only underwent two physical therapy sessions. Facility staff also allegedly misrepresented Johnson’s blood pressure readings in telephone calls from Johnson’s daughter.  As the lack of care continued and Johnson’s condition worsened, she allegedly developed a large purple and painful bruise on the top of her foot. Johnson’s daughter requested that a doctor look at the bruise because of her concern about blood clots, but the facility never made the arrangements.  The bruising and swelling worsened and Johnson ultimately suffered a severe stroke and never regained consciousness.

According to the lawsuit, the facility delayed medical treatment for the stroke and did not get Johnson to a hospital in time to render treatment to reverse the stroke. She died shortly after having the stroke, just nine days after her arrival at Napa Valley Care Center.