Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Fractures Hip & Requires Total Hip Replacement Due to Los Angeles Nursing Facility’s Negligence

Los Angeles, Calif. — Sharmilla Hatharasinghe, an 86-year-old woman with a history of falling and other medical conditions, was admitted to Sharon Care Center for rehabilitation and care following surgery to relieve a fall-related blood clot on her brain. It’s alleged that while she was a resident, Hatharasinghe suffered several near-miss falls that were ignored by facility staff, before finally falling and fracturing her hip. She required a total hip replacement, and her physical and mental health have continued to decline leaving her to suffer unnecessary pain. According to the lawsuit, Hatharasinghe’s substandard care was due to management maximizing profits from the operation of Sharon Care Center by underfunding and understaffing the facility.

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

“The precise reason Sharmilla was admitted to Sharon Care Center was for rehabilitation and protection from additional falls, but instead of providing the 24-hour skilled care she desperately needed, it’s evident the facility chose to deny this care and violate the law,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Further, through systematic cost limitations, it’s alleged the facility failed to have the resources or staff on hand to manage the care of residents like Sharmilla. As a result, Sharon Care Center has been repeatedly issued deficiencies by the Department of Public Health for failure to provide the patient care they promised and are required to perform as a licensed healthcare facility.”

Allegations and Background

On or about May 26, 2018, Hatharasinghe was admitted to Sharon Care Center for skilled nursing and custodial care after a hospitalization at Cedars-Sinai hospital where she had undergone surgery for a fall-related blood clot on her brain.

The lawsuit alleges that when Hatharasinghe was admitted to the facility, it was well-known to staff through assessment information, family information and physician notes and orders that she had a history of recent falls and was a high risk for falls. Further, the staff knew the reason Hatharasinghe was admitted to the facility was for rehabilitation from a fall-related brain surgery. The surgery had caused further mental decline, including making her increasingly forgetful and confused, to the point where she could not identify her own family and had a propensity to try and transfer to and from her wheelchair without assistance. It is alleged the staff knew of her cognitive decline because they used chemical restraints to control Hatharasinghe’s sleeping difficulties and her combative and agitated behaviors, including trying to remove her IV.

Additionally, the suit alleges the staff was well aware that Hatharasinghe was completely dependent on them for toileting, feeding, dressing, grooming, transferring, bathing and walking and needed 24-hour supervision and monitoring, and safety and assistance devices to prevent accidents. The staff also knew Hatharasinghe suffered from medical conditions including diabetes requiring insulin and high blood pressure.

The suit states after several weeks of near miss falls that were allegedly ignored by facility staff, Hatharasinghe was again left in the care of an inadequately trained facility caregiver who was responsible for far more residents than was possible. Then on July 4, Hatharasinghe’s family received a call that she had fallen out of her wheelchair and was complaining about her hip. X-rays revealed a hip displacement. Hatharasinghe was transferred to Cedars-Sinai hospital where further tests revealed a hip fracture. Days later, it was recommended that Hatharasinghe undergo a total hip replacement.

On or about July 6, Hatharasinghe underwent hip replacement surgery. It was planned she would return to the facility once she was stable.

The lawsuit asserts that the facility had a practice and pattern of staffing with an insufficient number of service personnel, many of whom were not properly trained or qualified to care for the elders and/or dependent adults, whose lives were entrusted to them. Further, the facility fraudulently concealed the Statement of Deficiencies and misrepresented to the general public and to Hatharasinghe, that the facility was sufficiently staffed so as to be able tend to her needs, and the facility operated in compliance with all applicable rules, laws and regulations governing the operation of skilled nursing facilities in the State of California.