Nursing Home Charged in Burn Patient Death

What does required care for a nursing home patient with burn injuries look like? Patients who suffer from substantial burn injuries and are residing in nursing homes in Southern California must receive a certain level of care in order to be safe from additional injuries. However, according to a recent article from the Los Angeles Daily News, a Montrose skilled nursing home and two of its staff have been charged in relation to the death of a burn patient. According to the newspaper, the charges indicate that the facility and staff members failed “to provide required care to a resident who was a burn victim.” When does negligence rise to the level or nursing home abuse or neglect?2222910959_90b0c86fa5

Nursing Home Neglect

The nursing home, Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Center LLC, is alleged to have been “grossly negligent” in its care of a burn victim who previously resided at the facility. The patient had burns on 90 percent of his body, injuries that resulted from an arson fire that occurred about 20 years ago. According to the complaint, which was filed by Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, the nursing home did not provide proper care to the patient, and because of its negligence, the patient died.

The Attorney General explained her reasoning for filing the complaint: “Families who entrust loved ones to the care of a nursing home rightfully expect residents will receive the care and attention they need and that nursing homes have a legal duty to provide.” However, Harris’s complaint alleges that “Verdugo Valley and its employees violated that trust and their legal duties in a way that resulted in a senseless, tragic, and unnecessary death.”

The patient resided at Verdugo Valley for 14 months. During that time, the Attorney General’s office indicated that the patient was linked to 80 change of condition forms, but none of them had a treating physician’s signature, which was required. The patient is alleged to have suffered from “severe weight loss, sepsis, and pneumonia.” He died on August 30, 2014 of “multiple system failure due to sepsis,” at which time the patient had “infections throughout his body.”

Alleged Gross Negligence in Patient’s Death

The two staff members charged in the death include the director of nursing at Verdugo Valley, as well as the supervising nurse. In addition to the serious issues noted above, the charges also allege that the staff members:

  •      Failed to call 911 in a timely manner;
  •      Failed to properly document changes in the patient’s condition; and
  •      Made false entries in the patient’s medical records.

What is gross negligence, and how does it different from a more common negligence or neglect allegation? According to regulations posted by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and Board of Registered Nursing, gross negligence is defined as

“an extreme departure from the standard of care which, under similar circumstances, would have ordinarily been exercised.”

What is an extreme departure from the ordinary standard of care? The definition goes on to explain that an extreme departure “means the repeated failure to provide nursing care as required or failure to provide care or to exercise ordinary precaution in a single situation which the nurse knew, or should have known, could have jeopardized the client’s health or life.”

Nursing home neglect occurs much too often, and it is preventable. If you have concerns about a loved one’s safety in a nursing home or assisted-living facility, it is never too early to discuss those concerns with an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse attorney. We are here to help. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more.

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