Kaiser Transferred Dying Man to Nursing Homes with No Treatment Advice, Daughters Claim
2-15-2013 18:23:00

San Mateo, Calif. (CN) – Two women claim a Kaiser Foundation emergency room discharged their father and sent him to a series of convalescent hospitals without informing anyone what needed rehabilitation.

Adelle DeMasi and Denise Swanson say in their San Mateo County wrongful death claim that on their father Joseph DeMasi's third trip to Kaiser Foundation's emergency room, he complained of excessive diarrhea persisting for two weeks continued neck pain from a fall - for which he had sought treatment a week prior.   

But Kaiser doctor Barbara Demas MD said CT scan results showed there was nothing wrong with DeMasi’s spine that would cause his neck pain, recommended a cervical soft collar and sent him to Carlmont Gardens, a skilled nursing center, "although Kaiser documents are not specific as to what condition exactly he was to be rehabilitating from," according to the complaint.

The daughters say that while at Carlmont Gardens, their father's diarrhea returned and he complained of increasing neck pain. However, someone - either his Kaiser doctors or Carlmont Gardens - ordered him sent to an assisted living facility.

After a fall at the assisted living facility, Kaiser doctors determined that DeMasi suffered from a severe case of cervical osteomyelitis, a bacterial infection of the vertebrae and bone marrow. Demasi's daughters claim doctors chose to treat their father with empirical antibiotics - and then transferred him to yet another nursing home.

While there, DeMasi complained to nurses that his pain was "1,000 out of 10 and unbearable," according to the complaint. The nursing home responded by increasing his dosage of morphine, the daughters say.

"On May 14, decedent's children arrived and were told that their father had not been eating for three days and had been screaming in pain for the last three days. He was found to be minimally responsive that morning and was transported by ambulance to Kaiser Redwood City. There he was found to be suffering from severe sepsis from an uncontrolled cervical spine infection, malnutrition and dehydration. He was pronounced dead later that same day with the principal cause of death being listed as sepsis," the women state in their complaint.

The daughters are represented by Carter M. Zinn of the Zinn Law Firm in San Francisco, Calif.