Empty WheelchairCases of elder abuse have increased significantly over the years, and with a rapidly aging generation of Baby Boomers expecting to rank by 2025 as the largest senior population in history, elder abuse could become an escalating problem that the legal system will need to address. Berkowitz and Hanna LLC knows that elder abuse has many guises: bruises and broken bones, malnutrition and/or dehydration, bedsores and ulcers, and—in its extreme form — wrongful death. In a hospital or nursing home scenario, attempts to cover up the abuse do not usually end well for the abuser(s), as evidenced by a recent wrongful death suit won by the family of an elderly San Diego woman who suffered and died, from a series of mishaps caused by negligent hospital staff.

The jury found that several incidents of negligence contributed to the death of 94-year-old Margaret Kasper, who had been hospitalized at the Vista Healthcare Center in San Diego and died on March 29, 2010, five days after a surgery.  The problems began when an oversized food cart, that was knowingly improperly manned, hit Mrs. Kasper. The patient broke her hip and had to undergo surgery. After the surgery, she fell out of bed. The promise of providing her with a bedside monitor (to alert the staff if she moved) was never fulfilled. In addition, her doctor neglected to conduct a follow-up physical—and medical staff later tried to cover this fact up in court, by signing her medical records.

Not only did the staff commit multiple acts of gross negligence, observes Berkowitz and Hanna LLC, but they also breached their fiduciary responsibility towards this vulnerable patient.  The jury found Vista liable for the woman’s death and awarded damages of $800,000.

Note: Berkowitz and Hanna LLC did not represent any of the parties in this case.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.