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Part 5 of 5 – Staff Advised Wrongly

Second, Defendant’s staff advised the paramedics that Plaintiff was vomiting “light brown/clear” fluid with “no blood”, when in fact she had been vomiting dark brown fluid with blood, which was witnessed not only by Plaintiff’s son, but also by another family member. Also, according to the hospital’s infectious disease consult dated 7/16/11, Plaintiff was having “pretty severe hematemesis” (vomiting of bright red blood). Third, Defendant’s staff advised the paramedics that Plaintiff had been having “normal bowel movements,” when in fact both Plaintiff herself and her son had repeatedly advised Defendant’s staff that she was continually constipated. In fact, according to the hospital’s radiology report dated 7/16/11, Plaintiff had a “collapsed colon.”

When Defendant’s staff finally acknowledged the seriousness of Plaintiff’s bowel obstruction symptoms, they notified her doctor, who immediately ordered Plaintiff transferred to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. However, by that time it was too late. According to a hospital consult dated 7/17/11, Plaintiff’s abdomen was “markedly” distended and “guarded all over with rigidity,” and her pain level on a scale of 1-10 was a 10. She was also severely dehydrated, presumably from all the vomiting. Plaintiff’s symptoms of bowel obstruction continued at the hospital.An x-ray revealed a large abdominal mass, and Plaintiff was quickly diagnosed with a small bowel obstruction. Significantly, the hospital records also document a previous history of a large abdominal mass that was diagnosed in 2005. However in 2005, Plaintiff’s abdominal mass was timely diagnosed and treated, and she had abdominal surgery to remove the mass. The surgery was successful and Plaintiff went on to live another six years. However this time surgery was not a viable option because of the untimely diagnosis, due to Defendant’s failure to timely act on the Plaintiff’s obvious symptoms of bowel obstruction. Had Defendant’s staff adequately monitored Plaintiff’s condition and timely and properly reported her bowel obstruction symptoms, Plaintiff’s abdominal mass could have been surgically removed just as it was in 2005 and her small bowel obstruction avoided and her untimely death prevented.

The care and treatment that Plaintiff received while residing at Defendant’s facility fell well below the prevailing standard of care, and also constituted a violation of her statutory nursing home residents’ rights, including but not limited to, the right to receive adequate and appropriate healthcare, the right to be free from abuse, and the right to be treated fairly and with the fullest measure of dignity. The facility’s own documentation clearly shows that Defendant’s staff was negligent in its care and treatment of Plaintiff during her stay there. Further, the staff’s repeated failure to properly address Plaintiff’s fall risk, and more importantly, the staff’s failure to timely address Plaintiff’s obvious bowel obstruction symptoms, was so wanting in care that it constituted a conscious disregard or indifference to the Plaintiff’s rights and safety, entitling her to punitive damages.