Wednesday, September 8, 1999
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today announced the filing of a civil lawsuit against Texas Diversicare, L.P., doing business as the Lampasas Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. In June of this year, Texas Department of Human Services (TDHS) investigators found several licensing violations which endangered the health and safety of the residents. In one instance, the violations resulted in the death of a resident.
"I have made it a priority to protect those who can not protect themselves. If you are responsible for the abuse and neglect of the elderly, you will be held accountable for your actions," Attorney General Cornyn said.
In one of the more serious violations, investigators found a ten year old volunteer was responsible for feeding a resident. The resident began choking and turning blue, but the nurse aides did not respond because they thought that the resident was only having a seizure. When the resident became unconscious and had no vital signs, the charge nurse finally went to help him. The resident had food--half the size of a tennis ball--pocketed in both cheeks, and food was also visible in the back of his throat. When the resident arrived at the hospital, he was not breathing and was purple in color and died nearly two hours later.
Investigators also discovered that another resident had removed her waist restraint and fell while trying to walk in the dining room. Those who witnessed the fall say the resident was unconscious for about a minute. The resident was eventually taken to the hospital and treated for a bruised shoulder, a cut elbow, and a closed head injury.
The Attorney General's lawsuit against the Lampasas Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, asks the court for a jury trial and for civil penalties to be assessed against the defendants up to the maximum of $20,000 per day of violation.
Since Attorney General Cornyn took office, fourteen lawsuits have been filed against twenty-six separate nursing homes. Sixteen other nursing homes cases have been settled. To date, the Attorney General's office has collected just over one million dollars in civil penalties and attorneys fees since Cornyn took office.
The lawsuit was filed in Lampasas County District Court. This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Nancy Shellhorse of the Attorney General's Elder Law and Public Health Division.
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