California Nursing Home Medical Error Lawsuits

Incidents in nursing homes are so complicated because their residents are usually suffering from numerous health problems. Nursing facilities are not only caretakers but medical providers as well. Thus, they have the potential to really injure residents if they make a medical error.

This is unfortunately what happens in many cases. Here we provide summaries of some California lawsuits that arose because the nursing home committed various medical mistakes and harmed their residents.

$10,200,000 VERDICT:

Orange County, California nursing home medical error case.

After this unfortunate series of events, a young boy died in the care of a nursing home and his family brought suit against the facility. He had been living there for at least 5 years prior to the incident and was dealing with a number childbirth injuries and issues including seizures and cerebral palsy. One early morning he suffered a seizure but the nursing home didn’t notice for a significant period of time.

Even when they did, they were slow to call for an ambulance. He ended up dying in the care of the hospital. His family thought it was the fault of the nursing home and they sued it for wrongful death and other damages.

The complaint stated that the defendant nursing home and its staff didn’t give the boy the medications he needed, didn’t train its staff in CPR and other necessary procedures, and didn’t properly alert the boy’s doctors or emergency services. The defendant stridently objected to these claims in its reply and the matter went to court.

A jury heard the case and returned a verdict in the amount of $10,200,000 for the plaintiffs including $4,500,000 for punitive damages and $5,700,000 for compensatory damages.

Here are some things that might have guided the jury’s decision-making process:

  • The boy didn’t have the medications he was supposed to in his system.
  • The plaintiffs exhibited that the defendants didn’t call 911 until over ten minutes had passed since they found the boy unconscious.
  • There was no other obvious sign of why the boy died except for a lack of medication or prompt emergency care.

$375,000 VERDICT:

Santa Cruz, California nursing home medical error case.

The nursing home victim in this controversy was an 87-year-old male resident. He was retired and suffering from a variety of health problems.

He claimed in a lawsuit that the defendant nursing facility gave him Risperdal, Ambien, Xanax, and Haldol improperly and without his informed consent.

As a result, he experienced paralysis for a month, delirium, and other complications that required a hospital stay of nearly a month. He sued the nursing home for the injuries and costs that resulted from this unconsented medical care, in his opinion.

The defendant nursing facility replied that everything they gave him was appropriate and with his permission. However, just before the case began in court, both sides settled for the amount of $375,000.

Here are some motivating factors that might explain this agreement:

  • The state of California investigated this incident and gave the nursing home a citation for not obtaining informed consent. This could have been used by the plaintiff to prove causation.
  • The plaintiff did not have any significant long-term pain, suffering, or change in life because of the accident.
  • However, the accidental medical care caused the plaintiff with a substantial amount of pain, suffering, and expenses in the short term (especially medical bills) that needed to be addressed in this lawsuit.

$100,000 SETTLEMENT:

Ventura County, California nursing home medical error case.

This lawsuit was brought by a family of a deceased woman after she passed away in a hospital after contracting an infection at a nearby nursing home. The complaint alleged that the defendant facility errored in keeping the woman’s living area free of bacteria and other infection-causing materials.

Due to this neglect, it stated that the woman caught an infection, lost almost 20 pounds in a few weeks, and suffered severe diarrhea. They sought damages for negligence and wrongful death.

The defendant nursing home vehemently denied all of these charges. It responded that there was nothing it could do to avoid this from happening and that the woman died from natural caused.

However, it still was convinced to enter into settlement negotiations with the family.

Both sides found common ground to settle for $100,000 most likely because of the following facts:

  • The woman’s health deteriorated so much, so quickly that some misconduct seemed likely to be to blame.
  • The woman undoubtedly died from the infection she contracted while living in the nursing home which was supposed to keep her from getting these things.
  • However, the woman was also in old age and suffering from numerous other conditions that could have contributed to her death. Therefore, determining how much the defendant nursing home was to blame would have been difficult.

$909,000 VERDICT:

Orange County, California nursing home medical error case.

This nursing home case actually went to trial which is unusual in medical error cases and suggests some amount of uncertainty at fault. In this particular dispute, an elderly woman claimed that the defendant nursing facility gave her excessive dosages of lithium beyond what her doctor had prescribed for her.

Also, she claimed that due to these improper dosages of lithium she suffered extensive brain damage. She sought compensation for the pain, suffering, and bills that resulted from these alleged errors.

The nursing home made its defense on the premise that the plaintiff had already suffered brain damage due to lithium prior to entering the facility and that everything they did was proper. Therefore, it became a factual matter for the jury to decide who was at fault.

They rendered a verdict for the plaintiff in the amount of $909,00 after a month-long trial.

They only deliberated for a few hours. Here are facts that could have persuaded the jury to make its decision:

  • A lot of the damage appeared to have occurred around the time she was residing the defendant’s facility.
  • Objectively, she was given more lithium that she needed while under the care of the defendant.
  • The woman needed tens of thousands of dollars worth of medical care due to her time in the defendant’s facility.

$613,000 VERDICT:

Los Angeles County, California nursing home medical error case.

This care involved a number of errors on behalf of the nursing home in question. The victim was a female resident in her late eighties. Prior to being admitted to the home, she was diagnosed and prescribed for various heart, eye, and brain conditions.

However, according to documents filed in court, she given the proper treatment or medications for them while she stayed there.

Also, her complaint alleged that the nursing home staff did not perform adequate testing or supervision to conclude that she should have been placed in a more advanced care facility. As a result, she was allowed to bathe by herself and sustained severe burns.

The result of these errors was that she had to stay in a hospital for several weeks to undergo various treatments such as skin grafting and other procedures. Her pain and severe were extraordinary; her hospital bills were astronomical; and her quality of life was changed forever.

She sued the nursing home for negligence.

The defendant facility replied that it did everything required under the law and that the visual surveys they performed on residents were sufficient for these circumstances. However, a jury sided with the woman and awarded her $613,000 for the damages that she suffered.

Here are some influential circumstances of this lawsuit:

  • The woman claimed to have suffered almost $400,000 in past and future medical expenses because of the incidents described in this case.
  • The state of California’s regulations demand a certain level of inspection and screening which was not performed in this instance. This would have been used by the plaintiff to show that the defendant’s per se negligence was the reason she sustained her injuries.

CALIFORNIA NURSING HOME MEDICAL ERROR CASE TAKEAWAYS

As convoluted and complicated as medical error incidents are, it’s critical to have some perspective when reviewing your case so that you can tell if you’ll be successful. Here are a few things to watch in nursing home cases with medical mistakes:

  1. How did the care deviate from what was expected or appropriate?
  2. Did the nursing home staff ignore or refuse what the victim’s doctor instructed them?
  3. What medical care was needed to correct the nursing home’s errors and how much did it cost?
  4. How did the medical errors change the victim’s life? For instance, did they add any disability or long-term pain and suffering?
  5. Did any of the victim’s pre-exist injuries exaggerate the effects of the errors made by the nursing home?

DID A CALIFORNIA NURSING HOME MAKE A MEDICAL ERROR AND HARM YOUR LOVED ONE?

If it did, then the attorneys at Nursing Home Law News can help you bring a case for damages. Plus, we won’t charge you for any cost of service unless you get the recovery that you need. Start the process today. Give us a call!

If you are looking for information on the laws and regulations that apply to nursing homes in California, look here.

For information on nursing facilities in specific California cities and for local attorneys, look at pages below:

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
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After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric