Nevada Nursing Home Lawsuit Settled

The Hearthstone of Northern Nevada nursing home just settled a <"">wrongful-death lawsuit that involved the death of Dorothy Schweitzer, 87, who died in March 2008 from severe dehydration, an infection, and other complications while she was a resident there, said the Reno Gazette Journal (RGJ).

The Nevada Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance’s investigation found that Hearthstone’s treatment of Schweitzer caused “actual harm” to her, said RGJ. Schwweitzer’s two daughters—Audry Noriega and Laura Stotts—sued Hearthstone. Of note, the facility could not supply documented proof that Schweitzer received nursing care from March 23, 2008 through March 27, 2008, when she was rushed to Northern Nevada Medical Center, wrote RGJ.

Documentation was ultimately provided by Hearthstone; however, the notes indicated that Schweitzer was visiting with guests at the same time that she was dying at the hospital; the notes also indicated that she was being turned in her bed every two hours when she was, in fact, at the hospital, on the day she died there, said RGJ.

In a prepared statement, Molly Larson, Hearthstone’s executive director, declined comment on the case but said that Hearthstone “is dedicated to providing our residents with high quality, compassionate care and to providing peace of mind to their families and caregivers.”

“My mother had been sent to the hospital before with bedsores that (Hearthstone) had insisted were just a rash from tape,” Stotts said. “We had already filed a complaint with the state, and we were planning on getting her out of Hearthstone. We were going out of town because of a death in the family, and I got a call (March 27) asking if they should make my mom comfortable. It took me a while to understand they were saying she was dying. We’ve been lied to. They killed our mother and tried to cover it up,” quoted RGJ.

Larson’s statement went on to say that the facility has “undertaken several significant quality and satisfaction initiatives during the past year … recent satisfaction surveys show that 98 percent of residents discharged would recommend the facility to friends or family.” The lawsuit—the amount remains confidential—was settled this summer; however, Schweitzer’s family did not accept a demand made by Hearthstone that the details of the case also be kept confidential, said RGJ.

“We found out (nursing home officials) lied to cover themselves, to cover up a death by neglect, but so what?” Noriega asked. “Yes, we settled the suit, but are civil suits the only recourse for families? The public should be able to see every violation and the nursing homes must be made accountable. There should be real consequences,” quoted RGJ.

Unfortunately, this is only one of the many cases on which we have long been writing concerning cases involving all manner of elder abuse in facilities all over the country.

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