Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Woman Suffers Traumatic Brain Injury Due to Los Angeles Nursing Facility’s Negligence

Los Angeles, Calif. — Sharmilla Hatharasinghe, an elderly woman, was admitted to Guardian Rehabilitation Hospital for post-operative care and rehabilitation following knee replacement surgery. It’s alleged that while she was a resident, Hatharasinghe fell out of bed due to the negligence of facility staff, suffering a traumatic brain injury that included bleeding in her brain. According to the Complaint, after Hatharasinghe’s fall, the facility did not treat the brain injury, leading to a blood clot and requiring her to undergo a medical procedure to relieve pressure on her brain. Hatharasinghe now requires long-term care. Hatharasinghe’s alleged substandard care was the direct result of the financial limitations and procedures forced upon the facility by its operators as they sought to maximize profits.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Guardian Rehabilitation Hospital for elder abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“Through assessment information, family information as well as physician notes and orders provided to the facility, facility staff knew that Sharmilla was a high risk for falls, but they failed to provide proper supervision or put other safeguards in place to protect her,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Even more disturbing, once she inevitably fell, facility staff did not seem to recognize or care that she had suffered a severe brain injury. In the interest of personal profits over patients, facility management allegedly made a conscious choice to wrongfully deny needed medical care. The facility’s unfitness of staff in capacity and competency has been well-documented in deficiencies issued by the State of California’s Department of Public Health.”

Allegations and Background

On or about March 23, 2018, Hatharasinghe was admitted to Guardian Rehabilitation Hospital after undergoing knee replacement surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and was expected to return home following rehabilitation. The day after she entered the facility, Hatharasinghe was diagnosed with a high fever. On March 26, she was taken back to Cedars-Sinai hospital after facility staff were unable to wake her. She was returned to Guardian Rehabilitation Hospital on March 30.

The lawsuit alleges that upon Hatharasinghe’s readmission to the facility, facility staff were fully aware she was at high risk for falls, and that she had been admitted to the facility for rehabilitation from knee surgery and required protection from falls. Additionally, the facility knew Hatharasinghe was dependent on facility staff for activities of daily living, including toileting, feeding, dressing, grooming, transferring, bathing and walking. Facility staff were also aware that she suffered from preexisting conditions including hypertension and diabetes. The lawsuit alleges that despite this knowledge, the facility disregarded Hatharasinghe’s fall risk and withheld required care, including 24-hour supervision and monitoring, and assistance with activities of daily living.

The Complaint states that after several weeks of near miss falls that were ignored, Hatharasinghe suffered a fall out of bed on or about April 23, 2018. The facility staff had not put a bed alarm in place despite her documented risk of falling. At approximately 3 a.m., she was found on the floor beside her bed. Facility staff did not notify Hatharasinghe’s family about the fall until 10 a.m. that morning and they denied that she had suffered head trauma. That evening, when Hatharasinghe called her family, she was confused and delirious, and her family could not understand what she was saying.

Shortly after the call, Hatharasinghe’s son Victor visited her. According to Victor, Hatharasinghe’s mental status was noticeably altered and she struggled to recognize her family. In the following days, her mental and physical state continued to progressively decline. When confronted by her family, the facility continued to deny any head trauma.

On April 29, Hatharasinghe’s family made another visit. They found Hatharasinghe to be disoriented and incoherent. On May 1, the family visited again. Hatharasinghe’s memory and cognition had grown even worse, yet the facility made no attempt to transfer her to a hospital.

On or about May 4, Hatharasinghe began to experience loss of consciousness while sitting up.  Her son called 911 and arranged a neurology evaluation by Dr. Padini Gunter. The doctor ordered that Hatharasinghe be immediately transferred to Cedars-Sinai hospital. Once in the emergency room, assessments showed she was dehydrated and an MRI scan showed a blood clot on her brain. It was determined she would need to undergo a “burr hole” procedure to relieve the pressure on her brain.

By May 10, 2018 when her family visited her at the hospital, Hatharasinghe did not recognize them. She was barely able to speak and had completely lost her ability to speak English.

On May 14, Hatharasinghe underwent the burr hole procedure. On May 26, she was transferred from Cedars-Sinai hospital to a different skilled nursing facility. To date, she continues to suffer from unresolved cognitive issues associated with her fall from bed and now requires long-term care.

It’s alleged that Hatharasinghe’s injuries were the direct result of the facility’s insufficiency of staff in number, training and competency.