Failure to Treat Digestive Disorders Such as Diverticulitis in Nursing Home Residents -- Sample Complaint in Maryland Nursing Home Neglect Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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Nursing home residents may be at risk for digestive disease.  Diverticulitis is a fairly common disease found in the colon (large intestine) which occurs when protruding pouches coming out of the wall of the colon become inflamed or infected.  Patients suffering from diverticulitis may experience the following symptoms:  (1) lower abdominal pain; (2) diarrhea; (3) constipation; (4) fever; (5) bleeding from rectum; and/or (6) nausea/vomiting.

Fortunately, this condition can oftentimes be treated with antibiotics and dietary measures so long as it is timely diagnosed. 

The nursing home staff must alert the patient's treating physician if the resident experiences symptoms of digestive disease including diverticulitis.  The failure to do so can have fatal consequences.  For instance, the patient may develop peritonitis or intestinal obstruction requiring emergency surgery and treatment.  Sadly, under these circumstances, the nursing home's failure to timely alert the physician and/or transfer the patient to the hospital may result in serious medical complications or even death. 

A sample Maryland Wrongful Death/Survivorship Complaint involving claims of negligence relating to nursing home failures to make arrangements for the patient to receive necessary medical evaluations and treatment for diverticulitis follows:

COMPLAINT

Plaintiffs, [insert names of Plaintiffs], by their attorneys, hereby file this Complaint against Defendants, [insert names of Defendants], and in support thereof state as follows:

PARTIES AND JURISDICTION

1.   At all times material to this case, Plaintiffs have been citizens and residents of the State of Maryland.  Plaintiffs [insert names] are the surviving children of the decedent, [insert name].  [Insert name of wrongful death beneficiaries] are wrongful death beneficiaries in this action pursuant to Section 3-904(a) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
2. [Insert name] is the duly appointed Personal Representative of the Estate of [insert name].  The Register of Wills for Baltimore City issued Letters of Administration to [insert name] on [insert date].  The Estate of [insert name] is bringing this survival action pursuant to Section 7-401(x) of the Estates and Trusts Article of the Maryland Code.
3. At all times material to this case, [insert names of Defendants] have been operating nursing homes and engaging in the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services in Baltimore City and throughout Maryland, acting through actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees.
4. The venue for this claim is proper in Baltimore City, Maryland.  The amount in controversy exceeds Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00).

FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

5. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, [insert names of Defendants] have been licensed by the State of Maryland to own and operate nursing homes iand assisted living facilities in Maryland and have held itself and its agents, servants and employees out to the general public as experienced, competent and capable providers of nursing home, assisted living, and medical and rehabilitation services, and in such capacity owed a duty to [insert name of Plaintiff] and the Plaintiffs to render that degree of medical care and skill which is ordinarily rendered by those who devote special study and attention to the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services.
6. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, all individuals at [insert name of nursing home] who participated in the care provided to [insert name] were acting on behalf of [insert names of Defendants] and within the scope of their employment and/or agency with [insert names of Defendants].
7. On or about [insert date], [insert name] was admitted to [insert name of nursing home].  
8. According to the medical records, on or about [insert date], [insert name of Plaintiff] complained to the nursing home staff of diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps, and back pain.  Subsequent care notes failed to document that the staff had assessed [insert name]'s abdomen or monitored her condition for improvement or worsening of the diarrhea.
9. A care note dated [insert date] documented that [insert name] continued to complain of nausea.   Once again, however, the care note failed to document any assessment of [insert name]'s abdomen or bowel function.
10. A care noted dated [insert date] documented that [insert name] was continuing to complain of nausea and diarrhea.  The note further documented that [insert name]'s abdomen was distended and tender to the touch, and that there was a foul BM (bowel movement) odor in [insert name]'s room.   Despite these findings, the nursing home staff failed to obtain necessary medical assistance for [insert name].
11. On [insert date], [insert name] continued to complain of nausea and abdominal pain.   [Insert name]'s physician was finally notified and [inset name] was transported to the emergency room at [insert name of hospital].
12. Doctors at [insert name of hospital] ran preliminary tests and determined that [insert name] was severely dehydrated and anemic.  After admitting [insert name] to the hospital and running additional tests, doctors determined that [insert name] had an acute sigmoid diverticulitis that had produced multiple large pelvic abscesses.  Doctors initially attempted to drain the abscesses but were unsuccessful.   [Insert name] subsequently underwent a major abdominal surgery and colon resection.  By this point, however, [insert name] had developed peritonitis and acute renal failure.  [Insert name] died on [insert date].  The Death Certificate lists the primary cause of death as sepsis related to perforated diverticular disease.

COUNT I (Professional Negligence)

13. The Plaintiffs incorporate all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
14. Defendants, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, owed [insert name] a duty to exercise reasonable care in their treatment of her.
15. Defendants, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, breached the above-described duty of care to [insert name], thereby deviating from the applicable standards of care, and were otherwise negligent, careless and reckless in that they, among other things:

a. failed to appropriately monitor and evaluate [insert name]'s ongoing medical condition;
b. failed to timely and properly diagnose [insert name]'s diverticulitis;
c. failed to make arrangements for [insert name] to receive necessary medical evaluations and treatment for her diverticulitis, which resulted in [insert name] developing large pelvic abscesses, peritonitis and renal failure, conditions that ultimately caused her death; and
d. were otherwise negligent and violated the applicable standards of care.

16. As a direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendants, [insert name] was caused to sustain serious, painful and permanent injuries to her body, including great physical and mental pain and suffering, and, ultimately, death.
17. As a further direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendants, [insert name], among other things, was compelled to undergo medical procedures and treatment and, as a result, was obliged to expend sums of money for medical care and was precluded from engaging in her normal pursuits and activities, among other injuries and damages.
18. Had Defendants followed the appropriate and applicable standards of care, [insert name] would not have suffered the above-identified injuries, damages and death.
19. The injuries herein complained of were directly and proximately caused by the negligence and want of care of Defendants, with no negligence on the part of [insert name] contributing thereto.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request that a judgment be entered against the Defendants for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds them entitled.

COUNT II (Wrongful Death)

20. The Plaintiffs incorporate all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.

21. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants' above-described negligence in causing the death of [insert name], [insert names of wrongful death beneficiaries] have sustained, among other things, pecuniary loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, loss of companionship, loss of comfort, loss of protection, loss of parental care, loss of filial care, loss of attention, loss of advice, loss of counsel, loss of guidance and loss of education. 

WHEREFORE, the Plaintiffs request that a judgment be entered against the Defendants for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds them entitled.

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Please feel free to contact the nursing home neglect lawyers at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury or wrongful death as a result of failure to diagnose and/or treat digestive disease such as diverticulitis, bed sores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), nursing home falls, dehydration/malnutrition, medication administration error/prescription mistake, elder abuse or elder neglect.

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