Hospital negligence led to schizophrenic's assault: patient
|Failure to Diagnose, Medical Malpractice - Nurse, Medical Malpractice - Hospital|
|Andrew L. Gerard v. BHC Alhambra Hospital, Inc. and the Regents of the University of California, No. SC110387|
|Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA|
- Stephen Bernard; Bernard & Bernard; Los Angeles, CA, for Andrew L. Gerard
- Alena Klimianok; Bernard & Bernard; Los Angeles, CA, for Andrew L. Gerard
- Karen Luckett O.R.T., C.H.T., C.L.C.P.; Life Care Planning; Beverly Hills, CA called by: Stephen Bernard, Alena Klimianok
- Philip Cogen M.D., Ph.D.; Psychiatry; Los Angeles, CA called by: Stephen Bernard, Alena Klimianok
- H. Fisk M.D.; Neurology; Los Angeles, CA called by: Stephen Bernard, Alena Klimianok
- Deborah Budding Ph.D.; Neuropsychology; Manhattan Beach, CA called by: Stephen Bernard, Alena Klimianok
- David Fractor Ph.D.; Economics; Pasadena, CA called by: Stephen Bernard, Alena Klimianok
- F. Rudnick M.D.; Neuropsychiatry; Santa Monica, CA called by: Stephen Bernard, Alena Klimianok
- Nancy Henry R.N., Ph.D.; Psychiatric Nursing; Torrance, CA called by: Stephen Bernard, Alena Klimianok
- Louis R. DeStefano; Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith; Los Angeles, CA, for BHC Alhambra Hospital, Inc.
- Kevin J. Kuhn; Wheeler, Trigg & Kennedy; Denver, CO, for BHC Alhambra Hospital, Inc.
- Kara J. Rosenthal; Wheeler, Trigg & Kennedy; Denver, CO, for BHC Alhambra Hospital, Inc.
- None reported; null, null, for Regents of the University of California
- Daniel Auerbach M.D.; Psychiatry; Encino, CA called by: Louis DeStefano, Kevin Kuhn, Kara Rosenthal
- Kyle Boone Ph.D.; Neuropsychology; Los Angeles, CA called by: Louis DeStefano, Kevin Kuhn, Kara Rosenthal
- Ted Vavoulis M.S.; Economics; Los Angeles, CA called by: Louis DeStefano, Kevin Kuhn, Kara Rosenthal
- Edwin Amos, III M.D.; Neurology; Santa Monica, CA called by: Louis DeStefano, Kevin Kuhn, Kara Rosenthal
- Stacey Helvin B.S.N., R.N.; Life Care Planning; Yorba Linda, CA called by: Louis DeStefano, Kevin Kuhn, Kara Rosenthal
On July 30, 2010, plaintiff Andrew Gerard, 48, a private math tutor and math assistant at Santa Monica College, was admitted to BHC Alhambra Hospital, a private, locked psychiatric facility, for further evaluation and treatment of his depression and suicidal ideation. He was assessed and evaluated by Daisy Lao, R.N., a BHC charge nurse who was responsible that night for evaluating patient risk assessment factors to ensure patients' placements are appropriate for everyone's safety. Shortly thereafter, Gerard was placed on a 72-hour hold.
Prior to Gerard's admission to BHC, on July 29, 2010 at 5 p.m., Bobby Hurtado was brought by ambulance to Providence Holy Cross Hospital's Emergency Department and admitted with a diagnosis of a self-inflicted stab wound to his chest and acute psychosis. Hurtado had been previously diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and had been prescribed antipsychotic medication, which he had not been taking for several months. Thus, while at Providence, Hurtado suddenly jumped off a gurney, ripped out his IV catheter and ran into the hallway. It took several off-duty police officers to restrain him and place him back on the gurney. Hurtado was then placed in physical restraints, provided with a one-to-one sitter, given Haldol and Ativan medications, and had an Intensive-Care-Unit-level admission to the emergency room. In addition, a physician at Providence reported that, "[Hurtado] claims to be hearing voices, raising the specter of an acute psychosis." As a result, Hurtado was transferred to BHC Alhambra Hospital on July 30, 2010, for further psychiatric intervention and care.
While at BHC, Nurse Lao assessed and evaluated Hurtado. She stated that during the 30-minute interview, the patient appeared to be calm and cooperative. As a result, Lao designated him a low risk on the assault/violence risk scale. Thus, Hurtado and Gerard were placed in the same room following Lao's evaluation of both of them.
In the early morning hours of July 31, 2012, BHC staff found Gerard lying on the floor, face down, and bleeding from a head wound with Hurtado was standing over him. Based on an investigation that followed, Gerard had offered to share some food with Hurtado, who struck Gerard because, "[Gerard] got in [Hurtado's] face."
Gerard sued BHC Alhambra Hospital Inc. and the Regents of the University of California, as Gerard was originally admitted to UCLA. However, Regents was later dismissed from the case prior to trial. The matter subsequently proceeded to trial against BHC Alhambra on the claims of medical negligence and dependent adult abuse/neglect.
Gerard's counsel contended that Lao was negligent in her risk-violence assessment of Hurtado, in that she chose to ignore Hurtado's recent history of behaviors at Providence, directly resulting in his placement in the same room with Gerard.
The Chief Executive Officer of BHC testified at trial that it was the policy of the hospital to assess a patient based on their current condition. Thus, defense counsel contended that Lao and BHC's conduct was within the standard of care, and that Hurtado's conduct was a superseding cause.
As a result of the assault, Gerard sustained multiple skull and facial fractures and major intracranial damage, and was assessed as having lost consciousness and being sluggish and responsive only nonverbally. He was subsequently placed on life-support and spent 28 days at the USC Hospital following a prolonged convalescence period. Gerard was diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury manifesting in the extensive loss of brain matter and frontal lobe syndrome. Additionally, substance in the anterior right frontal lobe was associated with diffuse problems in both the front and back parts of the brain. Gerard's jaw was fractured in two places, and he sustained a complete hearing loss in his left ear. In addition, Gerard contracted pneumonia while at the hospital.
Gerard claimed that he is currently having multiple problems in all aspects of his life, including, but not limited to, severe personality and executive function deficits. He alleged that his ability to control behavioral impulsivity and determine appropriateness of certainly behaviors has sharply diminished. He also alleged that he experiences severe headaches and dizziness, and is light sensitive.
As a result of his injuries, Gerard claimed he will need medical care and home assistance for at least five hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, he contended that he was going to be able to return to work as a private math tutor with a 57-percent reduction in income, but that he would not be able to regain his math assistant position, or like employment, at Santa Monica College, which he lost due to his injuries.
Defense counsel argued that Gerard did not suffer any cognitive function deficits, and that all of the deficits and personality disorders were, at least in part, a result of his pre-existing psychiatric condition.
Defense counsel contended that by March 2013, after completing three to four months of recommended cognitive therapy, Gerard should be able to get back to work as both a private math tutor and a math assistant at Santa Monica College, or its equivalent, without any further reduction in income.
The parties entered into a $2,000,250/$250,000 high/low agreement prior to jury deliberations.
The jury determined that BHC Alhambra Hospital was liable for Gerard injuries, finding that Lao was negligent for admitting Hurtado as patient and failing to consider his recent medical records. It also found that the hospital CEO ratified Lao's conduct and that the conduct was reckless under the dependent adult abuse statute. The jury further determined that Gerard's damages amounted to $5,990,769. Thus, Gerard recovered the high/low agreement's $2,000,250 maximum amount.
Andrew L. Gerard
$3,000,000 Personal Injury: pain and suffering
$2,990,769 Personal Injury: economic damages
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's and defense counsel.