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Family Sues Nursing Center after Mother Dies from Dehydration Complications


Posted on Dec 12, 2007

A month after being cited by the California Department of Public Health for failing to encourage a resident with dementia to drink fluids, a nursing center is being sued by the family after its loved one died, according to the Napa Valley Register.

The Napa Nursing Center was fined $15,000 in May for not aiding Eulalia Grimoldi to drink. In June, the was transferred to the Queen of the Valley Medical Center and then to Choctaw House hospice care, where she died in July.

Grimoldi’s family is suing Napa Nursing Center, claiming staff ignored its mother’s health-care plan, which led to acute dehydration. Grimoldi's daughters seek unspecified damages for wrongful death, elder abuse, neglect, negligence and violation of rights.

Linda Lutz, director of legal affairs for Napa Nursing Center's corporate parent, said the company had not yet been served with the lawsuit and could not comment.

The state’s May citation against Napa Nursing Center read, “The violation of this regulation ... presented imminent danger that death or serious harm would result or a substantial probability that death or serious harm would result."

But a medical discharge notice to Choctaw House noted Grimoldi’s "debility and decline/failure to thrive.”

Was Resident Uncooperative with Staff?

The Queen of the Valley Medical Center report said, "During the patient's hospital stay, she began refusing food, hydration and medication. It became clear the patient seemed to not have much will to live.”

The medical center conferred with the patient's daughter, Virginia Loeffler, who held power of attorney for health care. It was decided her mother should be discharged to hospice care.

Elizabeth Mautner, Napa County Long-Term Care Ombudsman, said even if Grimoldi refused help with drinking fluids, the state citation showed the home had an added responsibility. "They could also be cited for forcing her to drink against her will, but they at least have to encourage her to drink. They can't just leave her alone and expect her to pick up the glass and drink," Mautner said.

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