Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Suffers Brain Damage and Dies as a Result of Downey Hospital’s Negligence

Downey, Calif. — Paula Del Rio, a 70-year-old blind woman, was admitted to PIH Hospital – Downey (PIH Hospital) in July 2017 for gallbladder removal and released several weeks later. In the month following her release, Del Rio was readmitted to PIH Hospital due to a significant deterioration in her condition, leaving her dependent on the assistance of a ventilator. Unfortunately, rather than providing Del Rio with the care she required, PIH Hospital substantively ignored Del Rio’s needs and allowed her to suffer a severe, painful and preventable pressure sore on her tailbone. Worse yet, facility staff ineptly addressed the ventilator tube of Mrs. Del Rio causing her to literally choke herself off from oxygen and suffer brain damage. As a result of the hospital’s alleged failure to provide proper care, Del Rio passed away from her injuries on September 20, 2017.

Garcia, Artigliere & Medby filed a lawsuit against PIH Hospital for elder abuse.

“PIH Hospital and its staff were well aware that if they failed to provide Paula with the required care, supervision and monitoring necessary, there was a high probability she could suffer an injury just like those she ultimately suffered,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Despite the hospital’s knowledge of Paula’s condition, she did not receive sufficient care and monitoring, resulting in a severe injury that eventually caused her death. The Code Blue episode allegedly suffered by Paula at the hands of PIH Hospital is yet another example of the inherently dangerous, yet all too common practice of understaffing and underfunding at a medical facility. As a result of the hospital’s profit-driven plan, Paula lost her life. Unfortunately, it appears that the hospital’s staff sees this all as the price of doing business with the acceptable loss of death to its residents.”

Allegations and Background

According to the lawsuit, Del Rio was admitted to PIH Hospital in July 2017 for gallbladder removal and was released several weeks later. The lawsuit states that Del Rio was readmitted to PIH Hospital in August 2017 due to a significant deterioration in her condition, leaving her dependent on the use of a ventilator.

Through family information, physician’s notes and the hospital’s own assessment, PIH Hospital was fully aware upon Del Rio’s readmission that she was at high risk for pressure sores. Despite this knowledge, the lawsuit states that Del Rio didn’t receive the required care to reposition her every two hours, make sure she was clean and dry and free from feces and urine at all times and ensure she was properly hydrated.

Shortly after her readmission, it’s alleged that Del Rio suffered a Code Blue episode after a hospital employee tampered with her ventilator tube. The lawsuit alleges that as a result of the hospital’s negligence, Del Rio suffered brain damage and was transferred to PIH Whitter Hospital, where Del Rio’s family discovered a Stage IV pressure sore on her coccyx and gruesome accumulations of pus retained by fistulas throughout her body. It was determined that Del Rio was not suitable for surgery.

As stated in the lawsuit, Del Rio passed away on September 20, 2017 as a result of the wrongful withholding of care by PIH Hospital.