A Napa family is suing a local nursing home alleging that caregivers did not follow the care plan specified for the resident, which resulted in her death. According to an article in the Napa Valley Register, Eulalia Grimoldi died within a couple of months of being admitted to the Napa Nursing Center because of acute dehydration. Family members, who filed the wrongful death lawsuit, say they had specifically told the nursing home to “encourage Grimoldi to drink fluids.”
Grimoldi had been diagnosed with dementia when she was admitted into the nursing home in May 2006. In less than a month, nursing home staff had her admitted to a local hospital because they saw she had a “decreased level of consciousness.” However, hospital staff noted in their records that Grimoldi suffered from acute dehydration.
What is interesting is that the nursing home was fined $15,000 by the Department of Public Health “for failing to follow a care plan that called for staff to encourage Grimoldi to drink fluids.” According to the documents cited by the newspaper, health department officials had noted that this violation by the nursing home staff “presented imminent danger that death or serious harm would (or could) result.”
The hospice, where Grimoldi eventually passed away in July 2006, noted that she was refusing food and water and had very little will to live. But experts point out that even if one assumes that Grimoldi refused to drink fluids during her stay at the home, the nursing home had a further responsibility to continue to encourage her to drink. Given her dementia, it would be unethical for nursing home staff to give up on her, put the glass of water next to her and move on to the next patient!
Now, Grimoldi’s daughters are seeking unspecified damages for wrongful death, elder abuse, neglect, negligence and violation of rights. The nursing home had a responsibility to follow a care plan designed for a patient that specifically stated that she needed fluids. Families entrust loved ones to the care of nursing homes and pay thousands of dollars for that care (even if they cannot afford it) because they want their loved ones to receive the care they cannot get at home.
In this case, maybe the daughters had trouble getting mom to drink fluids at home. So they thought, ‘OK, let’s leave her in the hands of professionals.’ So apparently they picked this nursing home because it did have a good reputation. And they instructed the home that she MUST take water and that the staff MUST make sure she gets enough fluids. How disappointed the family must be!
Negligence and indifference are the most common forms of nursing home abuse. If nursing homes cannot follow the rules for whatever reason – understaffing, cost-cutting – they will break them or try to cut corners. The fines in California, after all, are not that high. A woman was in her death bed because of a clear violation and the state fined this nursing home only $15,000!
And it’s not easy for families to send their loved ones to nursing homes. For most children, putting their parent in a nursing home is probably one of the most difficult decisions they have to make in their lifetime. But they do their research and put their trust in the caregivers. Negligent nursing homes are violating that trust in the most horrible way.
Legal action is the only way left for families to find justice in these cases and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. We hope the family members in this case find peace and get the justice they deserve.