Lawsuit Filed: Paralyzed Woman Suffers Severe Stage III Bedsore Due to Long Beach Nursing Home’s Negligence

Long Beach, Calif. — Stephanie Richmond, a dependent adult woman who had recently suffered a debilitating stroke that left her paralyzed and unable to speak, was admitted to Pacific Palms Healthcare for skilled nursing care and rehabilitation. It’s alleged that while she was a resident from about June 28, 2018 to July 31, 2018, the facility failed to provide the basic care she needed to prevent injuries to her skin, which resulted in Richmond developing a horrific Stage III pressure sore. Compounding the facility’s negligence, facility staff allegedly attempted to hide the wound from Richmond’s family, delaying treatment and increasing the wound’s severity. According to the Complaint, the facility implemented cost limitations to maximize profits and as a result, failed to have the resources or staff on hand to properly manage the care of residents, including Richmond.

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Pacific Palms Healthcare for dependent adult abuse, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“When Stephanie entered Pacific Palms Healthcare, she was particularly vulnerable because of her medical conditions, and could not move or speak for herself. Sadly, it seems the facility took advantage of her inability to communicate and intentionally withheld the care and treatment she needed to reduce their own costs,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “This facility has repeatedly been issued deficiencies by the Department of Public Health for failing to provide required patient care and has knowingly signed plans of correction for each citation. Yet, instead of fixing the staffing issues and other serious violations, facility operators simply continue to warehouse residents for the sake of lining their own pockets.”

Allegations and Background

In April 2018, Richmond suffered a major stroke while undergoing brain surgery at Cedar Sinai Hospital. The stroke left her unable to move one side of her body and unable to speak.

Upon admission to Pacific Palms Healthcare for rehabilitation in June 2018, Richmond was unable to communicate her needs and was dependent for all activities of daily living (ADLs) including, but not limited to, turning and repositioning while lying in bed, transfers, hydration, dressing, grooming, bathing, hygiene, toileting assistance and medication management. Due to her immobility and dependence for basic needs, she required ongoing attention and care to her skin to address her increasingly high risk of developing pressure sores. The lawsuit alleges that Richmond’s condition and risk of developing sores were well known to the facility upon her admission, and in fact, receiving care to prevent this real and present danger was one of the primary reasons she was placed in the facility.

The suit alleges that after admission to the facility, Richmond was left lying in bed unturned in the same position, causing her skin to break down and a bedsore to develop on her coccyx. The neglect of her skin integrity continued and the coccyx pressure sore worsened.

The lawsuit further alleges that the facility sought to fraudulently conceal the entirely preventable injuries suffered by Richmond. The facility did not notify Richmond’s family about the development or worsening of the pressure sore, even though it was required to do so by law. Richmond’s family had no knowledge of the negligent care provided by the facility. Richmond was unable to communicate because of her condition, so the family unwittingly relied on the facility’s misrepresentations about her care.

On or about July 17, 2018, the pressure sore on Richmond’s coccyx was finally brought to light when her daughter made an unannounced visit and found her mother grimacing in pain while a facility staff member changed the diaper used to conceal the coccyx wound.  When confronted about the wound, facility staff attempted yet again to conceal the injury, the suit alleges. After further insistence by Richmond’s daughter, the facility nurse removed the diaper. The condition of the wound was the size of a grapefruit and was covered in dead tissue.

After discovery of the wound by her family, Richmond was transferred to Long Beach Memorial Hospital, where the coccyx pressure sore was noted to be Stage III+. After receiving care and treatment, Richmond was transferred to a different facility where she remains a resident as of this filing.

The lawsuit alleges that as a direct result of the chronic understaffing at the facility in both number and training, the facility failed to provide Richmond with adequate personal hygiene, failed to ensure that she received adequate hydration and nutrition to stave off infections and skin breakdown, and failed to react in a timely way to her emerging injuries, including the entirely preventable and treatable pressure sore and infection. Further, Richmond suffered these injuries because facility staff simply did not have adequate time or the inclination to provide her with the required care and to document and address her emergent conditions. These injuries were entirely preventable had there been sufficient staff on duty, in both number and competency, to actually implement the protections required by the facility’s own Plan of Care and physician orders and assessments, the suit further states.