Patient Suffers Serious Pressure Ulcers at the Hands of Chico Heights Care Centre

Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Chico Heights Rehabilitation & Wellness Centre located in Chico, California, accusing the facility of elder abuse, negligence, and negligent hiring and supervision. The facility allegedly neglected Donna Teel, one of their patients, causing her to sustain serious pressure ulcers as well as significant weight loss.

“The facility knew it lacked sufficient staff in both numbers and in training,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “Inevitably, their failure to appropriate the required care to Donna resulted in both physical and mental harm.”

On January 22, 2016, Ms. Teel was transferred to the facility for rehabilitation following surgery for a fractured femur that she had suffered during a recent fall. Upon Ms. Teel’s admission into the facility, the staff was advised about her history of osteoporosis, falls and an irregular heartbeat. Additionally, they were aware of her numerous other medical conditions and needs: blood thinning medication; pacemaker; medication for chronic pain, including 15 mg of morphine twice a day; a history of renal failure and assistance with all activities of daily living. The staff was also aware that Ms. Teel required timely attention and care to prevent the formation of pressure sores, which meant repositioning her at least every two hours to relieve pressure from her body.

While Ms. Teel was a resident at the facility, staff would drastically increase her pain medication from the usual 15 mg of morphine twice a day to 20 mg of methadone, which caused Ms. Teel to become extremely lethargic, confused and bedbound. On one occasion, Ms. Teel’s daughter visited the facility to find her mother’s body extremely swollen. Ms. Teel was also in pain, suffered from shortness of breath and was completely wiped out. When Ms. Teel’s daughter expressed these concerns to the staff, they assured her they would administer better care, and rather than continue administering the methadone, they would give Ms. Teel a fentanyl patch instead.

However, they did not improve the care they provided to Ms. Teel; instead, they continued to neglect her needs. As a result, she developed a severe and avoidable Stage II pressure ulcer on her buttocks; a Stage III pressure ulcer on her tailbone; swelling on her arm; loss of skin; sepsis; and incontinence of both bowel and bladder. She also experienced a significant weight loss of approximately 30 pounds in two months and was overmedicated.

On February 22, 2016, approximately one month after Ms. Teel’s admission to the facility, her daughter received a call from a staff member stating that they had accidentally administered methadone to Ms. Teel. Her physician had given express orders that she was no longer to receive it. Subsequently, Ms. Teel was emergently transferred to Enloe Medical Center. When she arrived, she could not communicate, was filthy and appeared to have not been bathed in four to five days. Enloe Medical Center contacted the police and the Department of Public Health regarding the deplorable condition in which Ms. Teel had arrived there.

As a result of the continued neglect she received at Chico Heights Rehabilitation & Wellness Centre, Ms. Teel suffers from excruciating pain, depression, a lack of appetite and weight loss.