Two separate lawsuits filed in the last few months against Golden LivingCenter-West Shore accuse the facility of causing the deaths of two residents in 2014.
Families of two residents claim the management of the facility, in an effort to drive up profits, accepted too many residents in need of complex medical care while “recklessly” reducing staffing levels, which led to the deaths of their loved ones.
Golden LivingCenter has been under since the state Attorney General’s Office announced last year a lawsuit against 25 of its 36 facilities, including the West Shore location, for negligence that left residents thirsty, hungry and living in filth. Abc27 reported that there have been hundreds of complaints since the lawsuit was filed, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health late last year continued to find problems at the West Shore facility on Poplar Church Road in East Pennsboro Township.
The lawsuits filed in March and May this year pertain to the deaths of two residents in 2014. The law firm Wilkes & McHugh is representing both families. Wilkes & McHugh are nursing home abuse attorneys with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, as well as in Florida, Kentucky and Arizona.
One of the lawsuits, filed on March 24, alleges that there was negligent care of a woman who was at the West Shore facility from May 9, 2014 to June 9, 2014. The civil suit says that within four days of her residency, she was admitted to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with dehydration, pneumonia and hypokalemia, or low potassium in the bloodstream.
The resident was readmitted to the facility a few days after the trip to the hospital, and later that month she was found to be suffering from a C. diff bacterial infection. A day after that, she suffered a fall, the lawsuit said.
She was discharged to her daughter a little more than a week after that, and she later died on June 26, 2014.
The lawsuit in this case alleges that her chart had missing or incomplete documentation, and that Golden Living had deprived her of adequate care, treatment, food, water and medicine.
The other lawsuit, which was filed on May 31, covered another resident who was at the Golden LivingCenter-West Shore facility from July 28, 2014 until her death on Nov. 6, 2014.
The lawsuit alleges that the resident was admitted to the facility with the management knowing full well her serious risk for falls. However, she suffered six falls in August alone, as well as another fall in October at an eye doctor’s office.
In that October case, the lawsuit said Golden Living dropped the resident off at the curb instead of walking her in, and she was found in the bathroom, having fallen and soiled herself.
During the three months she was at Golden Living, the resident also was diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection, urinary tract infection and had lost 38 pounds, or about 24 percent of her body weight.
In September, she was hospitalized for dehydration and malnutrition, and on Nov. 6, she was found unresponsive in her room. The lawsuit said she was admitted to the hospital that day with acute renal failure and likely sepsis.
Both lawsuits claimed the negligence on the part of the staff and the physical and mental trauma that resulted accelerated the worsening condition of both women and ultimately led to their deaths.
Golden Living has not responded to the claims in either lawsuits but has requested the March suit be dropped in part because of an arbitration agreement signed by patients upon admission.
The agreement states that residents agree to resolve all disputes with Golden LivingCenter outside the court system through alternative dispute resolution like mediation and arbitration.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where an agreed upon third party attempts to negotiate a mutual agreement, according to Cornell University Law School.
Arbitration acts as a simplified trial outside the courtroom where an agreed upon person makes a decision about the dispute. The parties do not have to agree to the decision to be held responsible for it, according to Cornell University Law School.
Golden LivingCenter has also requested the courts strike “all references to recklessness” and dismiss “all claims for punitive damages” in the March case.