Family Blames Former New Mexico Official’s Death on Nursing Home Negligence

Another case of nursing home abuse is making headlines, this time against a former official in New Mexico who died from complications associated with bedsores.

Robert Piñeda, former Santa Fe city manager and Santa Fe County manager, died in 2012 over bedsore complications that were the result of negligence at the hands of the Casa Real Healthcare Center, according to allegations his daughter made in a lawsuit she brought against the facility, said The New Mexican. Piñeda, who was 69 years old at the time of his death, was admitted to Casa Real in August 2012.

His stay was for the rehabilitation of a fractured left patella (knee cap); however, Casa Real did not have a plan in place to for pain management or for the prevention of skin breakdown or dehydration, the complaint indicated. The complaint also alleges that Casa Real neglected to follow doctors’ orders and provide medical equipment, such as a “bariatric bed,” which is meant to prevent a “‘shearing’ type pressure ulcer injury,” said The New Mexican. The air mattress on which Piñeda was placed deflated three days after he was admitted to the facility.

Two weeks after he was admitted, Piñeda was moved to Christus St. Vincent Medical Center. At the Center, he was diagnosed with a “massive sacral, gluteal decubitus ulcer, severe urinary tract, sepsis, cellulites, and acute renal failure”; he underwent surgery for his wounds, he underwent colostomy surgery, and he was placed on a ventilator, the complaint stated. Piñeda was then taken to Kindred Hospital in Albuquerque on September 17. There, he went into renal failure and was placed on dialysis. Piñeda died from his injuries on December 1, said The New Mexican.

Preferred Care Partnership of Plano, Texas purchased Casa Real in 2012 along with the Santa Fe Care Center and another 10 New Mexico nursing homes.

This wrongful-death lawsuit is not the first against Casa Real. Late last year a man sued Casa Real, charging that his mother died in 2010 from a bacterial infection, the result of bedsores developed at Casa Real. That case remains unresolved. In another lawsuit, filed in 2006, the family of a deceased woman charged that staff allowed her to fall from a wheelchair and develop a severe bedsore. That case was closed in 2007, said The Mexican.

We have long written about the growing issue of elder abuse in nursing homes. And, although news of such abuse routinely makes headlines, the deplorable practice continues. This is significant because the senior population is expanding and living longer and more and more, people find themselves faced with the challenging decision of placing older relatives and loved ones in nursing home care. Unfortunately, family and loved ones seeking care of their seniors are sometimes left with very limited options and loved ones often suffer devastating indignities that include a broad array of abuse and neglect.

Some 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease today and, by 2025, that number could reach 7.1 million, the Alzheimer’s Association reports, according to a recent The Pilot report. Meanwhile, a 2001 Congressional report revealed that nearly one out of every three United States nursing homes were cited for at least one abuse violation over a two-year period. “In over 1,600 of these nursing homes, the abuse violations were serious enough to cause actual harm to residents or to place the residents in immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury,” the report stated.

We have written about a number of nursing home neglect lawsuits that the national law firm, Parker Waichman LLP, has filed against a number of facilities on behalf of residents who have suffered severe, sometimes permanent, injuries. Parker Waichman has long been dedicated to protecting the rights of nursing home abuse and negligence victims and has, among other measures to protect this vulnerable demographic, prepared a number of video blogs, such as this one.

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