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Nursing home in Orange sued over man's death


Original source:
http://www.ocregister.com/news/shrock-243236-center-lawsuit.html

Orange County Register
By RACHANEE SRISAVASDI
April 8, 2010

SANTA ANA - Two daughters of a 77-year-old man whose death at a skilled nursing facility drew criticism and an $85,000 penalty from the state filed a wrongful death lawsuit this week, alleging caretakers failed to keep their ailing father safe.

The July 18, 2009, death of Oliver J. Shrock - four days after he suffered a fall and fatal head injuries - at the then-Kindred Healthcare Center of Orange was labeled by the state as an "AA" citation - the worst violation that the state can issue against a skilled nursing facility.

The state determined that the center disregarded Shrock's safety by not listening to the family's warnings, and not implementing safety measures, such as the use of a bed alarm, on the day of the fatal fall, according to the citation issued in February.

Shrock's daughters, Kathleen S. Sakoguchi and Deborah Anne Whitman, sued the center and its former owner, Kentucky-based Kindred Healthcare Operating Inc., Monday in Orange County Superior Court. The lawsuit, which has been assigned to Superior Court Judge Gregory Munoz, seeks unspecified damages.

Shrock lived at the center from May 10 to July 14, 2009, and was admitted with several chronic conditions, including coronary artery disease, hypertension and diabetes, according to the lawsuit. Shrock's family told the center that Shrock - who was dependent on staff for most needs - was at high risk for falls, according to the lawsuit.

He fell shortly after arriving at the center, but wasn't injured significantly, the lawsuit said. The center installed a bed alarm to help prevent future falls and placed mats on the floor to limit possible injuries, according to the claim.

But these measures weren't always in place when Sakoguchi visited her father, and she repeatedly had to tell staff to attach the bed alarm, according to the lawsuit.

The fall that caused his death happened on July 14, when Shrock was preparing to go home, the lawsuit said.

"A nurse assistant discovered Shrock on the floor bleeding from his head and she did not know how long he had been lying on the floor,'' according to the suit.

Shrock was taken to a hospital, and died four days later.

The daughters' lawyer, Anthony Lanzone, said Thursday that the daughters filed the litigation to hold the facility accountable.

"Their only goal in fling this lawsuit is to bring to light what goes on in some long-term care facilities,'' Lanzone said. "If they take people in, these centers are obligated to keep them safe."

Kindred Healthcare no longer owns the facility, which has been re-named Orange Healthcare and Wellness Center. A spokesperson for Kindred did not return a call seeking comment.

Contact the writer: 714-834-3773 or rsrisavasdi@ocregister.com