We often hear of a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility being sued because of the death of someone in their care. But a Bartow woman's daughter is now suing the Lakeland Regional Medical Center for doing what they thought they were supposed to do – trying to save her elderly mother's life.
90-year-old Marjorie Mangiaruca was admitted to LRMC in September 2011. He daughter instructed the medical staff that Ms. Mangiaruca did not wish to have her life extended by way of any resuscitation or other artificial medical treatment or procedure. At that time, Dr. Jose Reinoso signed a “do not resuscitate” order, or DNR. The daughter thought this was assurance that should her mother take a turn for the worse, her wishes would be honored, and Ms. Mangiaruca could end her life with the dignity and peace she requested.
But then Ms. Mangiaruca was transferred to a nursing home, Oakridge Healthcare Center – and that's when things took a turn for the worst. While at Oakridge, Ms. Mangiaruca suffered a heart attack, and staffers then transferred her back to LRMC by ambulance. Apparently, the ambulance crew was not aware of the existence of the DNR order, and attempted to resuscitate her and put her on breathing and feeding tubes on the way to the hospital.
Ms. Mangiaruca's daughter, who had legal power of attorney serving as her mother's medical surrogate, is now suing both LRMC and Oakridge Healthcare Center. She says the medical personnel, in their lack of not notifying the nursing home of her mother's wishes, violated the DNR order, forcing tubes into her mother through a hole cut in her neck, and trying to keep her alive by applying painful chest compressions.
But wait – it gets worse. Ms. Mangiaruca's daughter was now faced with the painful task of again instructing the medical staff to remove her mother from all life support apparatus, and to allow her to pass away. And in a case of adding insult to injury, LRMC sent the daughter a bill for doing the exact opposite of what the patient had officially requested – trying to keep her alive.
The lawsuit claims that Oakridge nursing home did not properly assess the patient to determine her end-of-life wishes. They never spoke to Ms. Mangiaruca's daughter, or LRMC. The suit goes on to say the personnel at both LRMC and the nursing facility were not properly trained in handling a patient's end-of-life documentation.
“Because Florida is home to such a large number of elderly residents, we always hear about nursing homes or hospitals being sued for negligent or abusive care”, says Port Charlotte personal injury attorney Raymond Racila. “This is an apparent example of extremely poor systems and communications that never should have occurred – every patient has the right to have their final wishes followed”.
When you or someone you love is in need of serious medical care or require the services of an elder care facility, one assumes that those types of licensed facilities are fully capable of administering the needs of the patient. But this is a tragic case of one hand not knowing what the other hand was doing, and the lawsuit is an effort to bring attention to the full responsibilities and duties of health care providers in order to keep this type of sad situation from happening again.
If you feel you have suffered an injury caused by the negligence or maltreatment of any type of healthcare provider, you should speak to a personal injury attorney immediately. It doesn't cost a thing to sit down with us and discuss the specifics of your case, and let us help you determine if you may have a legal right to financial compensation under the law. Call us at 239-461-5508 if we may ever be of service.