Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Develops Severe Infection Due to Huntington Beach Nursing Facility’s Negligence and Dies in Hospital Days Later

Huntington Beach, Calif. — Gloria Gordon, a 91-year-old woman recovering from surgery after suffering from a fall that broke her hip, was admitted to Huntington Valley Healthcare Center for rehabilitative care. It’s alleged that while she was a resident, Gordon developed a preventable infection that became progressively worse due to the substandard care she received at the facility.  According to the Complaint, facility staff did not inform Gordon’s physician about the infection and downplayed its severity to her family. Shockingly, even after Gordon was found unconscious at the facility, it’s alleged staff did not call 911—merely requesting a non-emergency ambulance transport service instead. Sadly, Gordon died two days later in the hospital.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Huntington Valley Healthcare Center for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“As stated in the Complaint, the facility knew that Gloria required an extremely high level of care and represented to her family that they could adequately meet her total nursing needs. Instead, Gloria suffered avoidable injuries and rapid deterioration caused by the alleged persistent and recurrent failure of the facility to provide necessary care and services,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “The lawsuit alleges the facility was knowingly understaffed and limited resources to residents to maximize its profits. The facility’s apparent focus on financial gains over patient care placed Gloria in grave peril and, unfortunately, she paid the ultimate price.”

Allegations and Background

On or about July 3, 2017, Gordon was admitted to Huntington Valley Healthcare Center from Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, after undergoing surgery to repair a hip fracture caused by a fall at her home. Two days after her admittance, Gordon was transferred back to the medical center for treatment of pneumonia and congestive heart failure.

On July 8, 2017, Gordon returned to the facility for two weeks and was then released to go home. Two days after her discharge, she suffered another fall at home. She was rushed to Orange Coast hospital where she was diagnosed with a left femur fracture that required surgical repair. However, she was deemed unsuitable for surgery at that time and was readmitted to the Huntington Valley Healthcare Center on July 27, 2017.

The lawsuit alleges that at the time Gordon was readmitted to the facility, its staff knew that because of her advanced age, frailty, history of falls and medical conditions, she needed maximum assistance with all activities of daily living. These activities included turning and repositioning, transferring into and out of her bed and wheelchair, dressing, grooming, bathing and personal hygiene, toileting assistance and medication management. She also required special care to prevent infections.

The suit alleges that in spite of this knowledge, the facility failed to provide Gordon with the medical and custodial care and services that she required. The facility failed to adhere to physician’s order relating to food intake and stool monitoring to detect infection at an early stage. Gordon was also allegedly left in her own waste for extended periods of time and she was not provided with adequate personal hygiene.

On July 30, 2017, three days after readmission, Gordon began experiencing abdominal pain and loss of appetite. The lawsuit alleges that the change and consequent deterioration in her condition was ignored by facility staff and not reported to her physician or family, in violation of state law.

On July 31, 2017, Gordon began suffering from diarrhea, which was also ignored and unreported by facility staff, the suit alleges. As a result, her appetite declined. By August 2, 2017, her diarrhea had grown worse; she had no appetite; and she had grown increasingly feverish. The facility still had not notified her doctor about these changes in her condition.

The suit alleges that Gordon’s daughter repeatedly voiced concern about Gordon’s deteriorating condition and facility staff falsely reported Gordon as stable, and that there was no need for concern. As Gordon’s daughter’s concerns increased, staff promised to perform further stool testing the following morning. However, Gordon’s condition deteriorated and her daughter demanded that facility staff attend to her mother immediately. After finally coming to examine Gordon, the staff transferred her to a quarantined room.

The lawsuit alleges that despite knowing Gordon was suffering from infections, the facility still delayed reporting her deteriorating condition, in willful disregard of her health, safety and well-being.

Unsurprisingly, on August 4, 2017, Gordon was found unresponsive and staff called an emergency code blue. However, instead of then calling 911, facility staff merely called a third-party ambulance transport company, which arrived forty-five minutes later. As stated in the Complaint, upon arrival, the emergency medical technicians scolded facility staff for allowing Gordon to reach such a dire state and not calling 911. Gordon was taken to Orange Coast Hospital where she was diagnosed with a C. difficile infection and septic shock.

Gordon never recovered from her injuries and passed away two days later on August 6, 2017.