Virginia Patient Suffers Early Death, Family Files Suit

Our client, a 91 yr old male, was transported to a Virginia hospital via ambulance from his residence in 2012 and admitted with the diagnosis of community-acquired pneumonia requiring hydration. Other symptomatology included months of increased weakness and “severe deconditioning.” His wife stated that he had lost 20 pounds over the last several months and that he would not eat anything after breakfast. A swallow evaluation was performed and it was determined that our client “may be inconsistently aspirating at times simply due to age or when respiratory/medical status is compromised.” Puréed/thin liquids were recommended and he was placed on aspiration precautions. Our client’s pertinent past medical history included diabetes, bilateral BKA for peripheral vascular disease, coronary artery disease with previous bypass grafting, blindness due to advanced diabetic retinopathy and DVT/PE with inferior vena cava placement. He was treated with IV antibiotics and discharged back to his residence on 5/8/12 with oral antibiotics. At this time, he was 6’3”, 150 lbs.

Upon admission to a Virginia nursing home, staff was made aware that our client had a PEG tube and that his primary reason for his transfer was because of his diagnosis of aspiration pneumonia. Against previous orders, our client received dinner and breakfast and that he likely aspirated during breakfast. He suffered severe respiratory distress, a Code Blue was called at 1:57 pm and he was intubated at 1:18 pm. He was hypotensive with a blood pressure of 70/30 and was transferred to the critical care unit. Our client’s sputum culture revealed MRSA. Our client passed away from complications days later. 

By failing to investigate whether our client was able to tolerate oral feedings even though a diet order appeared in the discharge summaries when they knew or should have known that failing to investigate, question, or call the hospital could lead to the possibility of his aspirating as a result of the administration of oral intake.  

By failing to recognize that our client was a serious aspiration risk based on sufficient documentation when they knew or should have known that feeding our client any amount of food could lead to aspiration of food and fluids leading to further respiratory compromise, low oxygenation levels as well as further complications, namely cardiac complications. As a result, he had been stable at the time of admission to the nursing home became febrile with severe respiratory compromise and required transfer to the hospital.

Our client’s family contacted us and were able to receive a fair settlement in the memory of their loved one.

Bob Square

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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