Stroke Victim Died After Much Neglect, Grieving Family Claims
6-28-2014 02:31:00

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) - Kaiser and a nursing home are responsible for a stroke victim’s bad medical care, his family claims in a Sacramento County Superior Court lawsuit.

     Edward William Kuntz’s widow and three grown children sued Oleander Holdings LLC, dba Sacramento Sub-Acute, Plum Healthcare Group Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospital and The Permanente Medical Group.
     The family accuses both Sacramento Sub-Acute and Kaiser of elder abuse and wrongful death. They also accuse Sacramento Sub-Acute of violating the Patients’ Bill of Rights and Kaiser of negligent infliction of emotional distress.
     Widow Edith Kuntz, sons Michael and Edward Wade Kuntz, and daughter Sheila Lewis claim Sacramento Sub-Acute left Edward William Kuntz lying in feces, botched two tracheostomies, and let him get a serious pressure sore, while he was recuperating there from a stroke.
     Kaiser, the family says, tried to hide the pressure sore from them and incorrectly inserted a stomach tube.
     Mr. Kuntz had a stroke in Oct. 2012 and spent just over a month at Kaiser before being transferred to Sacramento Sub-Acute, according to the complaint.
     The day he arrived, his daughter Sheila came to visit, and found him in bed wearing nothing but a partially-off adult diaper, according to the complaint. “His body was covered in feces and he was also lying in feces which was scattered throughout his bed,” the complaint states. Sheila went to find a nurse, who “casually responded that she would send someone to Mr. Kuntz’ room when a caregiver became available. Mr. Kuntz’ family waited in anguish for over twenty minutes while Mr. Kuntz lay in feces and in obvious distress,” it says.
     Mr. Kuntz was there 13 days, during which time he was hurt in a fall from his bed and had two tracheostomy tubes improperly placed, his family says. The first time the tube fell out and the second time staff “failed to monitor his ingestion of food and liquids. As a result, Mr. Kuntz vomited profusely out of his tracheostomy tube, spiked a fever, and thereafter was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia. Mr. Kuntz subsequently became more ill and ‘coded’ at Sacramento Sub-Acute on Dec. 10, 2012,” the complaint states. After that, he was re-admitted to Kaiser, it says.
     Because of his high risk of pressure sores, Sacramento Sub-Acute promised to give him a low air loss mattress but did not, the family says, “a failure that lay the initial foundation for the subsequent, horrific pressure sore that Mr. Kuntz suffered.”
     At Kaiser, doctors inserted a stomach tube, which they later discovered “was outside the stomach. As a result, fluid had been accumulating in that space for a matter of days,” the complaint states. Mr. Kuntz had surgery to suck out the fluid, it continues.
     The next day, the family learned about the pressure sore that had begun at Sacramento Sub-Acute and was now in full bloom, according to the complaint. “Michael Kuntz was visiting his dad when a large group came into the room and said they wanted to check on Mr. Kuntz. They closed the curtain and Michael asked why they would be closing the curtain given that Michael was his son. Michael said he wanted to know what was going on with his dad and had a right to know. The Kaiser nurses said Michael was ‘not allowed’ to see what they were looking at. Michael continued to listen and heard the Kaiser nurses talking about a wound on his father’s body. Michael then stood over their shoulder and saw for the first time a horrible wound on his dad’s bottom side,” the complaint states.
     Michael called his mother, Edith, and told her about the wound, the complaint continues.
     When Edith and Sheila came down to take a look, Kaiser nurses did not want to remove the bandage, but eventually gave in, it says. “Upon observing the wound, Edith nearly fainted,” the complaint states.
     The sore got worse and “Mr. Kuntz suffered immeasurable pain and suffering as a result of this massive to-the-bone Stage IV pressure ulcer and also relating to the treatments he received for it,” the complaint states.
     A month and a half later, on Feb. 1, Mr. Kuntz was transferred to non-party Kindred Healthcare, then back to Kaiser in March, then back to Sacramento Sub-Acute in late May, according to the complaint.
     At Sacramento Sub-Acute, there was a 12-hour delay in Mr. Kuntz' being able to take his regularly scheduled medications, according to the complaint.
     His first day there, “Mr. Kuntz was coughing up significant brown mucus and Sacramento Sub-Acute took no concrete action to address this change of condition,” it states.
     The next day, he fell again, and two days later Sacramento Sub-Acute found Mr. Kuntz without a pulse and called 911. He was taken to Mercy San Juan Hospital by ambulance, where he was resuscitated but then died a few days later, on June 4, 2013, according to the complaint.
     Mr. Kuntz’ family seeks general and special damages, attorneys’ fees, treble damages, punitive damages, disgorgement of benefits, return of profits and costs of suit. They are represented by Edward P. Dudensing of Sacramento.