One case surrounding the sepsis death of a dementia patient in an assisted living facility is a reminder that people in facilities need to be monitored by family or friends. This is especially true for dementia patients. This case is also a reminder that sometimes you need to dig deeper for explanations when something goes wrong. There is no evidence whatsoever in this case that the man’s family did not visit and monitor his care.
Most assisted living facilities are quite competent and provide excellent care for residents. Occasionally, however, negligence by staff members can tarnish the reputation of a facility.
In 2013, a 92-year-old male patient (decedent/plaintiff) was admitted to an assisted living facility for care because of his advanced dementia. He was discharged from the facility six months later, on the day after an unannounced inspection by an investigator from the Department of Social Services. Upon discharge he was taken to a local hospital. At the time of his admission to the hospital, his records indicate that he was diagnosed with a stage IV sacral decubitus ulcer (bedsore) and was septic.
The man (decedent) died about one month after admission to the hospital. The death certificate listed dementia as the cause of death. However, an expert for the decedent was prepared to testify that the man died from sepsis caused by the decubitus ulcer. A negligence lawsuit was filed by the decedent’s family.
Among the key issues in this case were the following:
- The assisted living facility was licensed as a residential care facility for ambulatory patients.
- The plaintiff’s expert was expected to testify that the plaintiff required a higher level of care at the time of admission to the facility than the facility was licensed to provide.
- The facility was using a geriatric chair to restrain the man. This was also a violation of the facility’s licensing requirements.
- There was evidence that Neosporin had been applied to the man’s skin without a doctor’s order.
- Discrepancies in the plaintiff’s chart revealed that a signature was entered into the chart by the owner of the facility on a date when she was alleged to have been out of the country.
- The owner of the facility also made inconsistent claims about the decedent’s skin condition (bedsore) to the Department of Social Services’ Inspector.
The case was settled in mediation after the suit was filed and before the complaint was served. The plaintiff’s wife and four daughters received a settlement of $350,000.
When loved ones are placed in the care of a residential care facility, it is important that the loved ones monitor the care given to the patient and the patient’s condition. When the loved one has dementia, it is especially important to monitor care because of the diminished mental capacity of the patient. Visits to the patient should not always be made on a regular and predictable schedule. This prevents special actions and care by the facility in anticipation of a visit.
If your loved one is in an assisted living facility or a nursing home and has been harmed due to inadequate or improper care, you may have grounds to file suit for damages to your loved one. If you believe that your loved one has been harmed or neglected, call Altizer Law, P.C. We will schedule a meeting with Bettina Altizer for you to explain the situation and to determine if there appears to be the basis of a suit. Should you hire us at that point, our entire team of experienced experts will work to assess the nature of the facility’s failure to provide appropriate care and build your legal case. Bettina and her team are well known for thoroughness and aggressiveness in pursuing these cases. She will fight for your family until an appropriate settlement or jury award is concluded.